Health Care Cost Misperceptions Contribute to Problems, Hubbard Says
Allan Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council, on Tuesday said that the largest factor behind increased health care costs is the public "perception that health care is free," CQ HealthBeat reports. At a breakfast with reporters, Hubbard said that U.S. residents overuse health care services because health insurance covers most of the cost.
He added that a proposal by President Bush to expand health savings accounts, which seek to make individuals more responsible for their health care spending, would help reduce costs. Hubbard did not estimate the amount of the savings that would result from the proposal, which would cost $29 billion over five years, but said, "We'll know its working when growth starts to slow."
According to CQ HealthBeat, the "idea is that once patients are forced to pay more costs out-of-pocket, they will begin to comparison shop and request quality data, eventually driving down the costs of health care." Hubbard also addressed concerns that only higher-income individuals will enroll in HSAs. Hubbard said the high-deductible health plans associated with HSAs are less expensive than traditional health insurance.
About three million U.S. residents have enrolled in HSAs, and the Bush proposal would increase enrollment to 21 million by 2010, Hubbard said (Schuler, CQ HealthBeat, 2/14).
Hubbard on Tuesday answered questions about HSAs in an "Ask the White House" online chat. The complete transcript is available online.
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Wednesday reported on the Bush health care agenda. The segment includes comments from Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation; HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt; and Theodore Marmor, a public policy professor at Yale University (Rovner, "Morning Edition," NPR, 2/15).
The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.