I believe our healthcare system and its challenges need to be addressed in a new way that empowers our strongest asset in controlling the spiraling cost of healthcare: the U.S. consumer.
As you know, healthcare costs in the U.S. are increasing more than 30% faster than the rest of the economy and will consume 17% of our gross domestic product by 2011. (The U.S. spends less than 4% of its GDP to provide for the national security of our great nation.) This level of spending and inflation makes our current system unsustainable and real reforms are going to be necessary as our population ages.
Since World War II, when health coverage became a more widely offered employee benefit, healthcare spending has increased from 5% of our economy to 16% today. Systematically, the eye of the healthcare consumer has been removed from the marketplace. Whether it is employers offering a single insurance option or the government making healthcare choices on behalf of the elderly and the poor, consumers have been increasingly distanced from the decisionmakingparticularly those decisions based on costs and quality. The result has been a system with costs increasing at rates that are neither sustainable nor practical.
The solution is freedom for the consumer to pursue his or her own healthcare choices. Therefore, I propose three major reforms that would bring the consumer back into the healthcare equation: