BILL SIMPSON: Let's figure out how to trim health costs
February 09, 2014 2:00 AM

Our expenditures on health care in the United States were $8,508 person in 2011, according to an article in September’s “Industry Week.” That is more than twice what the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries of Europe are spending. We may get better medical care in some respects, but the OECD population is living 18 months longer on average than U.S. citizens.

I don’t know why the OECD population is living longer than we are and spending about $3,400 per person on health care to achieve that, but I think it is worth investigating.

I’m sure there are economic, cultural, organizational and governmental differences that contribute to their lower health care costs.

But if the U.S. could save $5,000 per person per year on health care ($1.4 trillion overall for a population of 280 million), we should be finding out how!

I have worked in manufacturing all of my adult life. Private companies have to be competitive or they will eventually die. One thing companies do to stay competitive is called benchmarking. They look at other companies and products to see how they do things and at what cost. They look for new methods, which help them provide a better product or service for the same or lower price. What manufacturing firm can stay in business with a product cost that is more than twice that of a competitor.? (Think U.S. health care cost vs. OECD health cost.)

This is the area where I think the federal government should do some investigation. No politics, just facts. Hire a consultant (independent and unbiased) to analyze why other countries are able to provide health care for 40 percent of what we’re spending.

Additional facts to consider: The USA has 20 percent fewer physicians per capita and 35 percent fewer hospital rooms per capita than the OECD average. How do more doctors and more hospital rooms result in lower expense?

If our elected officials would work on ways to reduce the health care costs of all our citizens, we could all benefit.

That approach makes a lot more sense than shifting costs from old to young, poor to wealthy, unhealthy to healthy, uninsured to insured, etc. Cost shifting and subsidies ignore the potential for real savings. Let’s solve the problem instead of forcing someone else to pay for it.

Bill Simpson

Indiana

P.S. I think benchmarking would also help reduce the costs in education

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