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Invited Commentary
December 9/23, 2013

Going After the Money: Curbing the Rapid Growth in Medicare Expenditures for Medical Services More Than 30 Days After Hospital Admission

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(22):2061-2062. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.7081

Willie Sutton, the infamous bank robber, was once asked why he robbed banks. He retorted, “That’s where the money is.” Sutton’s response holds an obvious but critical lesson for policy makers, who are struggling with the rising costs of health care in the United States. Most people in the United States agree that high health care costs are a major threat, but these costs are not the biggest problem. The larger challenge is that the growth in health care spending continues to outstrip inflation and even economic activity. The United States is able to spend nearly 18% of national income on health care1 by cutting back on other spending, such as that for infrastructure and education. Over time, if health care spending continues to grow at a rate faster than the economy, we will be forced to make even bigger cuts to spending on roads, bridges, medical research, teachers, and other social goods.

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