September 2014

The Value of Our Care

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 3The Wharton School, Department of Health Care Management, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(9):935-936. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.690

The significance of the study by Kirby et al1 is its attention to costs. As physicians, we are often so preoccupied with treating patients and focusing on diseases that we do not consider the costs that we are incurring and therefore the value of our care. Health care spending in the United States was approximately 17.9% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 and has been on the rise for many years.2 The per-capita health expenditures grew 3.2% in 2012.3 Although health care expenditures have slowed in recent years owing to the recession, health care spending in the most recent quarter (the first quarter of 2014) hit its highest rate of growth (5.6%) in 10 years, boosting the nation’s GDP by 1.1% in the first quarter of 2014.4,5 Moreover, over the past decades, health care spending has continued to outpace increases in our GDP. Continued spending increases that exceed GDP growth means that the US health care system will be increasingly funded by debt. Continuing on this path will lead to economic instability in the United States, making the role of cost containment a critical part of health care reform.

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