Every American should have access to high quality, affordable healthcare. The US spends nearly double the average of other comparable nations yet has among the shortest life expectancies of those same comparable countries.
Healthcare premiums for the average American family with employer-sponsored insurance is around $20,000 per year, $14,000 paid by the employer and $5,500 by the worker. That cost is more than a third of the U.S. median household income and is nearly 40% of median household income in Kentucky.
According to the Wall Street Journal, these rising healthcare costs have caused 95% of the wage stagnation over the last two decades as businesses and workers have absorbed more and more healthcare expenses. Increasing resources going to healthcare strain government, businesses and individuals’ budgets.
Unfortunately, paying more for care does not mean we get better or safer care or are healthier as a result. In fact, sometimes the most expensive treatments are not the best. In many cases, they are unnecessary and could even be harmful to patients. Paying less for care that is not high quality also does not drive better value and often results in more spending.
Employers are the sleeping giants in controlling healthcare costs, and often feel at a loss for how to control their rising healthcare costs year after year. It is critical to activate all size purchasers of healthcare to drive an accountable, high value healthcare system. The KHC works collaboratively with multiple healthcare stakeholders to improve health, price, and waste and move toward a more affordable, value-based healthcare delivery system that does not incent volume over value.
The KHC’s key initiatives to drive healthcare affordability include:
Participating in National Hospital Price Transparency Study
Advancing price transparency through purchaser engagement
U.S. employers spend billions of dollars on health care services. However, a lack of information limits the ability of employers to monitor the prices negotiated on their behalf, to implement innovative insurance benefit designs, and to ensre insurers are negotiating favorable prices. If employers have access to the information on prices needed to be better-informed customers, they can do a better job shopping for healthcare on behalf of their employees.
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Dr. J’Aime Jennings is an Associate Professor at the University of Louisville, School of Public Health & Information Sciences and has been a member of the KHC for 3 years.
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