Public Meeting 9: The Healthcare Imperative: Lowering Costs and Improving Outcomes, Understanding the Targets

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Health costs in the United States this year will be about $2.5 trillion; nearly 17% of the economy. It is well known that the United States spends far more on health care than any other nation, 50% more than the 2nd highest spender and about twice as high as the average for other developed countries. At the same time, overall health outcomes in the United States lag behind those achieved in other countries. Consistent with the per capita figures, many researchers studying the nature of U.S. health expenditures feel that 30% to 50% of our expenditures do not contribute to better health. This discrepancy between healthcare expenditures and health outcomes prompts discussion centering on understanding of specific and best opportunities for real cost reduction while maintaining the commitment to improved health status and innovation in health care. The Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine will convene three meetings to consider inefficiency in the health care system, methods to improve efficiency within the control of the health care system, and public policies that would mobilize these methods. The motivating question to be explored is how U.S. per capita health spending might be lowered by 10% within 10 years. The first of the series of three workshops was held on May 21-22, 2009 at the Keck Center of the National Academies.

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