Health care policy reform is a process that advances, at best, by two steps forward for every step back. In the March issue of the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, Dr. Joe K. Gerald, associate professor of public health policy and management at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, presents 10 principles to guide upcoming efforts at revising U.S. federal health policy.
[Photo: Dr. Joe K. Gerald]
In the article Dr. Gerald discusses how the health care system can be made more efficient and equitable by incentivizing consumers and providers to utilize high-value care and avoid low-value care.
“To accomplish this, we must understand the determinants of consumer and provider behavior and implement policies that encourage, but do not force, optimal decision-making,” said Dr. Gerald. “Although distinguishing between low- and high-value treatments will invariably threaten established interests, we must expand our capacity to make such judgements.”
Although realigning incentives to promote high-value care will improve efficiency, it is unlikely to control increasing medical expenditures because they are not primarily caused by inefficiency. Rather, rising medical expenditures are driven by medical innovation made possible by increasing incomes and expanding health insurance coverage.
“Failure to recognize these linkages risks adopting indiscriminate policies that will reduce spending but slow innovation and impair access to needed care,” said Dr. Gerald.
Ten Principles to Guide Health Reform
Annals of the American Thoracic Society, published March 1.