Yesterday I wrote,
Information must be combined with the incentive to purchase high-value medical care … a decision that involves both the medical benefit of the treatment and the financial cost.
The Administration’s proposals on health information technology, electronic medical records, and medical outcomes research may improve health, but they will have little effect on slowing the growth of health care spending for those with low-deductible, low-copayment private health insurance.
The Administration is giving an incomplete answer. They need to explain not just how much they will spend on health information technology, electronic medical records, and medical outcomes research, but how that information will be used to reduce cost growth, and by whom.
In December the Congressional Budget Office wrote,
Other approaches – such as the wider adoption of health information technology or greater use of preventive medical care – could improve people’s health but would probably generate either modest reductions in the overall costs of health care or increases in such spending within a 10-year budgetary time frame.
In many cases, the current health care system does not give doctors, hospitals, and other providers of health care incentives to control costs. Significantly reducing the level or slowing the growth of health care spending would require substantial changes in those incentives.
I am glad that I am in the same place as CBO on this point. Please consider this an ex-post footnote to yesterday’s post.