With almost one-fifth of the nation’s GDP being composed of health care expenditures, there is no doubt that the health care system and the economy are connected. With renewed discussion about the legality and true economic benefit of the Affordable Care Act, it is time to reconsider how changes to the health care system will affect the Ohio economy.
Due to the role of health care in the economy it is clear that any waste generated by the system will have an effect on the economy. Waste can come from a variety of sources, be it inefficiencies within the insurance system or extraneous procedures that show no benefit in outcomes. For example, the United States conducts more coronary revascularization surgeries than most other developed nations, yet more people die from heart-related disease in the US than die in many other developed nations. Thus, many of these very expensive procedures are being wasted, creating an unnecessary economic burden that could save huge amounts of money.
Another component of waste is avoidable hospital use and the associated costs. The financial burden associated with this type waste is especially relevant to Ohioans as Ohio currently ranks 34th in Avoidable Hospital Use and Cost. If solutions were proposed, such as improved follow up care following procedures and better palliative care, to decrease the avoidable use of hospitals enormous amounts of money would be saved from wasted procedures. In fact, across the nation it has been estimated that almost 30 billion dollars a year are spent on preventable hospitalizations. With so much money at stake it is a wonder steps in the Affordable Care Act do not adequately address this waste of resources.
Solutions to the health care and economic crisis have been to add additional people to an already bloated and inefficient system. Nobody will argue that the system in place needs reforming, but the way to accomplish economic and health improvements is first shoring up leaks in the system in place. If we fail to do this as a nation we run the risk of creating a highly inefficient and poorly run system for all; if we fail to do this as Ohioans we run the risk of continuing to throw precious financial resources into an abyss while not increasing beneficial outcomes for anybody.