A two-thirds majority of U.S. economists queried in a recent survey said fundamental changes are needed to the U.S. healthcare delivery and financing system, with another 14% saying the system needed rebuilding from the ground up.
The same economists favored market approaches to the problem over government intervention. They cited the spread of consumer-directed health insurance as a key measure to improve the costs, access or quality of the healthcare system.
Of the 194 economists surveyed, 30% ranked consumer-directed healthcare as extremely important, giving it a 5 on a 1-to-5 scale with 5 being "extremely important" and 1 being "not at all important." Another 38% of the economists polled gave consumer-directed healthcare a 4 ranking.
A majority, 51%, also said capping the level of liability claims against insurance companies and doctors was in the upper two quintiles of importance.
On the other hand, the economists expressed low opinions of government intervention as a means to improve the healthcare system, including government regulation of insurance premiums and drug prices and nationalizing the healthcare system (73% rated it a 1 or a 2) and mandating businesses to offer private insurance (53%).
But the economists also gave the same low marks (70% scored 1 or 2) for eliminating employer-provided insurance.
The survey was conducted by the 3,000-member National Association for Business Economics, a not-for-profit organization with offices in Dallas and Washington, D.C., whose past presidents have included several Federal Reserve Board members including fed chairman Alan Greenspan.
Thirty-one percent of the economists surveyed said escalating healthcare costs will have a very significant impact on a company's profit margin over the next two years while another 61% said it will have a somewhat significant impact
Also, asked which of the two was the more pressing concerns, 57% of the economists surveyed said "high and rising healthcare costs" was a more serious problem, compared with 42% who said "an increasing number of uninsured Americans" was of greater concern.