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October 23/30, 2013

The Elusive Path to Health Care Sustainability

Author Affiliations
  • 1National Coalition on Health Care, Washington, DC
  • 2National Academy of Social Insurance, Washington, DC
JAMA. 2013;310(16):1669-1670. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280147

Despite the recent slowdown in health care inflation, particularly in Medicare and Medicaid, increases in health care costs threaten to exceed the nation’s capacity to pay. Medicare’s accountable care, medical home, and bundled payment initiatives, along with parallel private marketplace innovations, could help curb costs over time. However, it is uncertain which models will prove effective, and their effect will be limited until the most successful efforts are identified and scaled nationally. Even if per-capita health spending slows to the same rate as overall economic growth, increasing numbers of aging beneficiaries will alone double Medicare spending in 10 years while increasing private sector prices increase the burden on businesses and families.