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Bringing down the cost of healthcare in the U.S.

PANORAMA CITY, CA - JANUARY 28:  Dr. Jason Greenspan (L) and emergency room nurse Junizar Manansala care for a patient in the ER of Mission Community Hospital where doctors held a press conference outside on a class action lawsuit against the state of California by a coalition of emergency room physicians claiming that without additional funding, the entire emergency healthcare system is on the verge of collapse on January 28, 2009 in Panorama City, California. According to the coalition, the cost of providing emergency room treatment has nearly doubled over the past decade and patient load increased by more than 28 percent while Medi-Cal reimbursements have remained largely unchanged. During that time, 85 California hospitals in California have closed and an additional 55 facilities have shut down their emergency rooms.  California now reportedly ranks worst in the nation for access emergency care and last in emergency rooms per capita. California has seven emergency rooms per million people while the national average is 20 emergency rooms per million people.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Junizar Manansala;Jason Greenspan
David McNew/Getty Images
Dr. Jason Greenspan (L) and emergency room nurse Junizar Manansala care for a patient in the ER of Mission Community Hospital where doctors held a press conference outside on a class action lawsuit against the state of California by a coalition of emergency room physicians claiming that without additional funding, the entire emergency healthcare system is on the verge of collapse on January 28, 2009 in Panorama City, California.

The United States spends nearly $4 trillion a year on healthcare.

The United States spends nearly $4 trillion a year on healthcare. To put that into perspective, that’s over one-sixth of the entire national debt. Healthcare prices in the U.S. for things like pharmaceuticals, healthcare policies, diagnostic procedures, and hospital care are some of the highest in the world, and are all major factors in the rising cost of healthcare in the U.S.

There’s no question that something needs to be done to bring these costs down, but there are plenty of questions to be asked about how this should be done. Is it a matter of reducing the amount of wasteful healthcare spending, or money spent on care that does not ultimately benefit the patient? Are unit prices too high? Are there too many frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits? Is the Affordable Care Act driving spending through the roof? Should we be spending less on end of life care for the elderly, many of whom would rather die at home than in an ICU? AirTalk has assembled a panel of healthcare experts from several fields to discuss why healthcare costs are so high in the U.S. and what can be done to bring those costs to a lower level that’s closer to what other countries are spending on healthcare.

Guests:

Dylan Roby, assistant professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute

Dr. Arnie Milstein, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Clinical Research Excellence at Stanford University

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