Health Insurance Expansion, Higher Health Care Spending Linked
The expansion of health insurance has contributed significantly to increased health care spending in the U.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Amy Finkelstein said on Monday at a forum sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, CQ HealthBeat reports. In an April paper distributed at the forum, Finkelstein wrote that the expansion of health insurance might account for as much as half of the six-fold increase in inflation-adjusted per capita health care spending between 1950 and 1990.
An analysis of a RAND study conducted between 1974 and 1982 indicated that expansion of health insurance had a small effect on the increase in health care spending during that period.
Finkelstein wrote in the paper that "her findings are not inconsistent with the conventional wisdom that technological change is the primary cause of the rapid rise in health expenditures."
According to CQ HealthBeat, "Finkelstein's comments came amid intensifying concern about rising health care costs and a growing sense of urgency about identifying and addressing their causes" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 7/17).
In related news, a Health Affairs study published in the July/August issue finds that electronic health records likely will not reduce health care costs, CQ HealthBeat reports. According to the study -- led by Jaan Sidorov, medical director of the Geisinger Health Plan Care Coordination Department -- EHRs often lead to higher billings and lower provider productivity, with no changes in provider-to-patient ratios.
In addition, EHRs do not consistently reduce medical errors and have not led to reduced medical malpractice insurance premiums, the study finds (CQ HealthBeat, 7/17).