Cost Cutting America: from the blue collar trenches to the corporate world

The venerable Reader’s Digest took a shot at health care cost cutting a few months back.  They have some good ideas (although mostly what we’ve all heard before, still worth the read): manage chronic conditions, improve quality, e-prescribe, collaborate more often, etc.

RD also takes aim at individual behavior (personal responsibility!!): pay workers for healthy habits, use retail clinics for the small stuff, set health goals and make them public, visit physicians virtually, …

The best, though, is the magazine’s plan for making thinking healthy a habit: our schools.  RD says we need to reward healthy eating, rescue recess, and expand gym class.  They very correctly note that today’s generation of children has a real risk of living shorter lives than its parents. There is plenty of room for local health care organization community involvement at school.

It is striking to listen to/read the number of pundits (professional or not) suggest ways to start fixing health care…and yet we lack widespread concentrated efforts on taking action.  Maybe we need a national agenda with a health care czar (it’s a nation of czars, now) to spur the movement (the proverbial nudge) and incent action.

On a related note, The McKinsey Quarterly reports (free reg. req.) that we (USA) overspend on health care by $650 billion annually.  The biggest culprits: outpatient care ($326 billion), pharmaceuticals ($98 billion), and administration ($91 billion).  Again, nothing Earth shattering but plenty of opportunity for transformation.