TREATMENT COSTS: Consumers Should Face Facts, Says CEO
Americans should be willing to accept responsibility for the hefty R&D price tag accompanying advances in fertility treatments, innovations for heart transplants and drugs to relieve hypertension and arthritis, says HealthPartners CEO George Halvorson. Writing in yesterday's Minneapolis Star Tribune, Halvorson asserts that "American consumers feel contractually entitled to each new technology, drug or medical procedure -- regardless of the cost to the payer, their employer or their health plan -- if the drug or technology" promises better care. But, he says, "Shouldn't American health care consumers all be entitled to the best drugs, the best technologies and the best care? Does anyone believe that the 'R' word (rationing) should be introduced?" Calling the answer "clear," he notes that the 'R' approach has few supporters. "We, as a nation, have made an absolute and unwavering commitment to the most expensive care -- and we have even passed dozens of 'benefit mandate' laws requiring that care if anyone seems to be reluctant to provide it." As technology continues to improve, he writes, "costs will go up. If we froze care at today's levels, we could easily freeze costs. But we can't, won't -- and shouldn't -- freeze care. So we, as a society, need to face facts and pay the costs" (12/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.