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Social Security Advisory Board Warns of Consequences of Unsustainable Growth in The Cost of Health Care

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the nation considers ways to reform our health care system the Social Security Advisory Board released a report today calling on policymakers to find lasting solutions to the long-term problem of escalating health care costs.

The report, The Unsustainable Cost of Health Care, details how health care costs are rising faster than the incomes of workers, retirees, and governments. If unaddressed, the Advisory Board warns, this trend will undermine the economic security of workers and retirees and place enormous strain on government budgets. Retirees will have less of their relatively fixed incomes to spend on anything other than health care. As employer's costs rise, workers will see their wages grow more slowly or even fall at exactly the same time as their need to save more for their own retirement and health care is increasing.

Making our health care delivery system more efficient, the Advisory Board stated, is the key to reducing costs over the long run. "As we developed our report, we saw widespread variations in medical practices with commensurate variations in the costs of services delivered but virtually no evidence that high-cost treatment patterns were delivering superior outcomes," noted Board Chairman, Sylvester J. Schieber. The report draws on findings from the success of several institutions, such as Intermountain Healthcare in Utah. Through the use of evidence-based coordinated clinical processes Intermountain has clearly demonstrated that it is possible to deliver higher quality care at lower costs.

Changing how we pay for health care can play an important role in slowing cost growth over time. Policymakers should be aware that the current fee-for-service model creates incentives for health care providers to give more, but not necessarily better care. Devising payment methods that encourage health care providers to place greater emphasis on effective and efficient care can encourage both cost and quality goals. Consumers need better incentives to seek out the best value care when making decisions that are in the best interest of their health.

Congress created the independent, bipartisan Social Security Advisory Board to advise the President, the Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters related to the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs. Appointments to the Board are made by the President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President pro tempore of the Senate.

SOURCE Social Security Advisory Board
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