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November 21, 2017

Challenges in Measuring the Affordability of US Health Care

Author Affiliations
  • 1American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC
JAMA. 2017;318(19):1871-1872. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.16188

In this issue of JAMA, Emanuel and colleagues1 propose an Affordability Index to measure the ability of the average US household to pay for its medical expenses. As the authors point out, standard economic measures used to track health spending do not adequately represent the effect of rising costs on families.

Emanuel and colleagues1 correctly observe that aggregated measures of health spending in the United States are not helpful to most people. Their intent is to create a measure using readily accessible data that is intuitive and easy for the average person to understand. Such an index, if widely adopted, might help galvanize public support for efforts to bring more cost discipline to the provision of medical care.