A Cancer on the American Dream

A recently released report with the stunning but purposeful title “Healthcare USA: A Cancer on the American Dream” details the degree to which our health care market lacks any reasonable level of reciprocal value for American consumers. Issued by Willis Towers Watson in collaboration with the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, the report shows how premium escalation for most American workers is edging out salary increases and denying middle and lower-middle-class families their shot at the American dream. And it contains this critical admonition…
“If we continue ignoring the reasons for our out-of-control health care spending, the deleterious effects on workers will exact an ever-higher claim on the American Dream of the economic program for all those willing to work for it.”
There are, of course, any number of reasons for this “out-of-control” spending, but we should be clear about two reasons that are NOT driving it. Higher utilization and higher quality. Americans use about the same or even less health care than countries that spend far less than we do. And the US ranks 13th of the 13th largest OECD countries in terms of good outcomes according to the Commonwealth Fund. It is the decreasing affordability of health care – driven largely what appear to be unjustifiable prices and profit taking by for-profit and non-profit players alike – that is hurting us all.
While there may be many reasons why our health market lacks reciprocity and while it would only be fair to say that we all contribute to them to some degree – providers, purchasers, and consumers alike – one clear and distinct fact precipitates out when we boil down the solutions for what must be done: only employers have both the means and the incentive to improve a value proposition in the health market that is so completely skewed toward the sellers and away from the buyers. Transforming how we purchase care will be the sine qua non for transforming value.