August 10, 2011

The Role of Physicians in Controlling Medical Care Costs and Reducing Waste

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: RAND Corporation and David Geffen University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, Santa Monica.

JAMA. 2011;306(6):650-651. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1136

The looming US budget crisis figures prominently in daily news. The amount of money spent on medical care is increasing faster than the gross domestic product (GDP), and the federal deficit is increasing. Budget experts believe that the deficit cannot be reduced unless medical spending can be controlled. What role will physicians play in controlling health care cost growth? Are physicians even willing to play a role?

Realistically, physicians face 3 scenarios in controlling health care costs. In the first scenario, physicians do nothing. Cost increases continue unabated and the proportion of GDP spent on health care continues to increase. But sooner or later, with or without the help of physicians, the cost crisis will have to be confronted. In a crisis mode, the solution to the spending problem may not be what physicians, or their patients, want.

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