Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hold On To Your Wallet

Health-care spending in the U.S. is projected to hit $4.3 trillion by 2017, nearly double the current $2.3 trillion. Medicare spending will reach more than $2 trillion consuming nearly 20% of America's total Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Much of this change is driven by the aging Baby Boomer population but the failures of the current medical system must also be faced. The current system of private insurance means that every doctor is faced with multiple forms with different rules and criteria in a system of denial management by insurance companies. It's estimated that this factor alone amounts to 1/3 of the total health care cost today.

Unnecessary medical tests and procedures driven in part by liability lawsuits and partly by our top-heavy ratio of specialists to general practitioners means that perhaps as much as another 1/3 of total costs could be reduced by adopting a different medical approach. The majority of other industrialized countries employ a majority of general practitioners to prevent health problems, an approach that produces lower costs and higher world rankings. (America ranks #40 in longevity today.)

Developing a new, affordable health care system is past urgent, it's now critical. Health-care spending is projected to grow on average 6.7% each year in the next decade, far greater than the 1.9% growth in the general economy.

Adding complementary and alternative medicine into the mix is one ingredient in the new recipe for better health and lower costs, as it is in other countries.

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