Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fireside Chat #1: Case Materials and References!

Our last fireside chat was a great success thanks to all the members who came to the event and the hard work of our amazing exec members!

I thought I'd include the Case Summary here for your reference. Ramya Parthasarathy, Preety Bhardwaj and Kristofer Carta worked hard on this case presentation - with a bit of editing on my side:


In 2007, the U.S. spent $2.26 trillion on health care or $7,439 per person, up from $2.1 trillion, or $7,026 per capita, the previous year. Currently, health care spending in the United States accounts for approximately 16% of its GDP, and is expected to continue its growth, reaching 19.5% of GDP by 2017. Of each dollar spent on health care in the Unites States, 31% goes to hospital care, 21% goes to physician services, 10% pharmaceuticals, 8% to nursing homes, 7% to administrative cost, and 23% to all other categories including diagnostic services, pharmacies, and medical device manufacturers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) ranked the health care system as the highest in cost, first in responsiveness, 37th in overall performance, and 72nd by the overall level of health, among 191 member nations in the study. A 2008 report by Commonwealth Fund ranked United States last in the quality of health care among the 19 compared countries. The U.S. has a higher rate of infant mortality and lower life expectancy than other developed countries. The United States is presently the only industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage. Furthermore, medical debt is classified as the primary cause of bankruptcy among all Americans.

As such, an estimated total of 100,000 individuals die each year because of lack of medical care. Some examples of government-funded specialty centers are hospice services, dysplasia clinics, and gynecological clinics.

Health care has been the topic of discussion for decades and is currently at the forefront of President Obama’s agenda. The bringing of health care reform brings into question the right to health care, access, fairness, value, cost, and quality. The recent discourse on health care has evoked strong sentiments on both the left and right wing parties.

The introduction of the H.R. 3200 bill calls upon central means of improving the quality of health care and reducing the growth in the overall health care expenditures. The inclusion of the government-run health care plan has been proposed as solution to insure the 48 million uninsured Americans, but has stirred passionate sentiments, mostly from the right wing politicians.

Liberals perceive that government-run health care service will reduce the large number of uninsured Americans and will extend coverage to all, thus lowering costs and enhancing quality. They believe that the sharing of costs between all Americans is morally and economically justifiable. The proposition of universal health care offers for increased affordability, and reduces the barrier to deny access to health care based on ability to pay.

Conservatives, on the other hand, oppose government mandates or programs for the establishment of universal health care as an effort to reduce health care cost. They believe that the government should not socialize medicine. In addition, the intrusion of government in health care is suggested to result in loss of individual freedom and does not fall in line with the free market system.


ELECTRONIC HEALTHCARE: Promote e-mails between physicians and patients for basic informational advice that can avoid unnecessary appointment requests and increase attention for more patients seeking medical advice. This can also aid the elderly and disabled who might find it difficult to find such information using resources like the internet. Foreseeable obstacles are Operating costs and quantifying the resulting benefits to fit the "quantity served" versus the "quality of service" model in treatments.

EMPHASIS ON PREVENTIVE HEALTHCARE: We discussed how in countries like the U.K. there exists an incentivized system which promotes preventive measures for avoiding health problems. For example: citizens actually receive money incentives to quit smoking! Replicating this system here in the U.S. would take tangible efforts at promoting healthier lifestyles.

Taking all these statistics and perspectives into consideration,

What are your ideas for reducing cost and enhancing quality in the U.S. health care system?