We have had over 20 years of health care costs going up more than inflation – every year. That is an amazing (and horrifyingly bad) record. We need very strong evidence to conclude we can even just reduce the increase in damage done year after year by the broken health care system.
Getting to the point where we actually start reducing the increased damage done each year is a big leap from where we are (reducing the acceleration of damage [reducing from hugely above inflation to largely above inflation is better than not doing that but hardly a good sign – it is still worse than the year before, just the increase in badness is less than the increase in badness from the previous year).
Health care is so bad I often see people try to look at data and see that the rate of getting worse is declining and seeing that as a positive sign. Things are still getting worse. And they are already extremely bad. I really can’t see arguing for things getting worse more slowly as being something we should be happy with. Even just making tiny improvements (given how bad we have let things get over the decades is not good enough). We need to actually reduce spending on health care. Certainly, the absolutely least we can expect is increasing less than inflation (that is an extremely low expectation – though one the health care system has failed at for decades). We shouldn’t accept such horrible performance.
Once we actually can start making things better year after year (not just reducing the acceleration of badness) we likely have decades before we can reduce the enormous drain the USA health care system puts on all of us living here to a level that is just average for rich countries.
There are pockets of good things being done in health care but so so so much more is needed.
Some other positive results in 2010:
• Emergency room visits were 71 per 1000 lives, or 38% of average. Serigraph people use the ER room only in a real emergency.
• Inpatient surgeries were 51 vs. 80 average per 1000.
• Radiology scans totaled 775 vs. 1300.
• Claims related to poor lifestyle choices were only 3% of our total claims, versus 7.7% for our peers.
These strikingly positive numbers are a testimonial to the engagement of the Serigraph workforce in reforming how care is delivered in this country. They are helping to mange this complex issue.
Reforms such as a consumer-driven plan, on-site primary care, finding the best centers of value and transparency on prices and quality are making a difference, a huge difference.
We still have a lot of innovation to do. For instance, we decided recently to go after depression, the second most costly chronic disease in the work place. Few companies, if any, have an enlightened managerial effort on that front.
Great work by Serigraph.