The spreading obesity epidemic, greater intensity of medical care and greater prevalence of chronic disease contributed the most to health spending growth during the better part of the last quarter century, according to new research released this week.
As policymakers debate how best to slow health spending that is straining the federal budget, the results suggested cost containment efforts could fail unless they target health promotion and efficient chronic-disease management, wrote Kenneth Thorpe, a health policy and management professor in the Emory University School of Public Health, in the journal Health Affairs.
More efficient and effective chronic-disease management has emerged as a key strategy for controlling costs at accountable care organizations, one of the organizational and payment models being tested by Medicare under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The ACO model still isn't widespread among U.S. healthcare delivery organizations.
It appears to be working in some of the hospital systems where it is being tried. Banner Health, one of the first Medicare ACOs, has reduced hospital admissions and repeat hospital visits with more aggressive care coordination.