Speech addresses problem of rising health care costs

Damaris Kremidas

With managed health care pervading national debates, one thing policy makers agree on is the need for cost effective, quality health care.
The School of Public Health addressed this issue Wednesday at a seminar that included a speech by Dr. David Kindig, director of the Wisconsin Network for Health Policy Research.
In his speech, Kindig explained that one of the biggest problems facing the health care industry is cost effectiveness. Kindig said that corporations purchasing health care plans should be “purchasing for value.”
“There’s no correlation between health expenditure and health outcomes. You have to ask, ‘Are we hooking up our expenditure with our outcome?'” said Kindig.
While showing a chart explaining that the varying range of health care expenditures in America ranges from $1,600 to $3,200 per capita annually, he explained the inconsistency between cost and quality of health care.
“The trends (in research) recently have been oriented towards the costs of health care,” said John Kralewski, director of the Division of Health Services and Policy.
Kralewski said there is a growing interest in health research to find ways of measuring the contributions of the health service industry to its clients’ actual physical health.
During his speech, Kindig explained data showing how health care systems are failing to take into consideration all the variants in the population.
“The question I have to pose is do any of our private or public payment systems take this data into account when they make investments?” Kindig said. “And the answer is no.”
Associate Professor in the Division of Health Services Research and Policy Mike Finch said that Kindig’s research is part of an attempt to measure quality assurance mechanisms to help guide corporations’ health care system choices.
“I think Kindig is leading a very important movement. Whether it will succeed or not depends on factors not dealt with,” said Finch, who added that the main problem is knowing how to implement researchers’ ideas for improvement.
“Kindig’s speech lays out a research agenda to make it work, and provides things to focus on to make research,” said Kralewski.
Kindig’s presentation circulated around the tenant that most causes of death in America are preventable and that health reform should be based on a technical rather than a political process.
Finch said that the main concern in health care policies is to prevent illnesses by keeping populations healthy.