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Private and public insurance choices could help pay for national health care reform
Date:7/16/2009

ed a choice of private plans only would increase administrative costs by $32 billion over the same period.

Savings from the mixed private-public reform approach would be realized through less marketing and underwriting, reduced costs of claims administration, less time spent negotiating provider payment rates, and fewer or standardized commissions to insurance brokers.

"A public plan would create an incentive for competitive private plan premiums with streamlined operations," said Davis. "Savings from these new efficiencies can be used to extend health insurance to people who can't afford it and to improve benefits."

The United States leads all other industrialized countries in the share of national health care expenditures devoted to administration. The cost of administering the U.S. health care system totaled nearly $156 billion in 2007, and that figure is expected to doublereaching $315 billionby 2018. In addition, costs incurred by physicians in their transactions with health plans are estimated to be as high as $31 billion a year.

About 12.4 percentor $96 billionof the $775 billion in privately insured health care spending went for administrative costs in 2007. That $96 billionrepresenting what insurance companies received in premiums, minus what was paid in medical claimsincluded claims processing, advertising, sales commissions, underwriting, and other administrative functions; net additions to reserves; rate credits and dividends; premium taxes; and profits. By contrast about 6.1 percentor $60 billionof the $974 billion in public program health care spending went for administrative costs in 2007. That includes federal, state, and local governments' administrative costs for public health programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Medicare prescription drug coverage, provided by private plans, has high administrative costs but is included in public program administration figure
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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