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Report – Confronting Costs: Stabilizing U.S. Health Spending While Moving Toward a High Performance Health Care System

“Health spending as a share of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) has climbed steadily over the past half-century. Today, it constitutes 18 percent of GDP, up from 14 percent in 2000 and 5 percent in 1960, and we are well on our way to 21 percent by 2023, based on current projections. This increased dedication of economic resources to the health sector, however, is not yielding commensurate value in terms of improving population health or patients’ experiences with care. On average, the U.S. spends twice as much on health care per capita, and 50 percent more as a share of GDP, as other industrialized nations do. And yet we fail to reap the benefits of longer lives, lower infant mortality, universal access, and quality of care realized by many other high-income countries. There is broad evidence, as well, that much of that excess spending is wasteful. Stabilizing health spending and targeting it in ways that ensure access to care and improve health outcomes would free up billions of dollars annually for critically needed economic and social investments—both public and private—as well as higher wages for workers. In this report, The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System endorses the goal of holding future growth in total health spending to a rate no greater than that of long-term growth in GDP, while simultaneously moving toward a high performance health care system. This is an ambitious goal, to be sure, particularly given our aging population and the commitment to access for all. But with such a high proportion of our economic resources already devoted to health care, and with abundant evidence that we can do better, such a target should be achievable. It is also a key to enabling broader economic growth and a more affordable health care system for businesses, families, and federal, state, and local governments.”

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