Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform

Bending the Curve: Effective Steps to Address Long-Term Health Care Spending Growth

With the President, members of Congress, and key stakeholders seeking aggressive reforms to slow spending growth while improving value, a group of 10 health care policy experts today released a set of concrete, feasible steps that could achieve this goal. The plan, “Bending the Curve: Effective Steps to Address Long-Term Health Care Spending Growth,” focuses on reducing the growth of health care spending, while also improving quality.

The proposal starts from the conclusion that the standard short-term measures to address rising costs, like reducing prices, are not sufficient to succeed. Instead, legislation must support necessary changes and improvements in health care by reforming payment systems, regulations, and institutions that currently prevent patients from consistently getting the best quality care at the lowest cost.

This strategy consists of four interrelated pillars. First, as a foundation for improving value, all stakeholders in the system need better information and tools to be more effective. Second, provider payments should be redirected toward rewarding improvements in quality and reductions in cost growth, providing support for health care delivery reforms that save money while emphasizing disease prevention and better coordination of care. Third, health insurance markets should be reformed and government subsidies restructured to create competition and improve incentives around value improvement rather than risk selection. This step requires near-universal participation in insurance markets to succeed. Finally, individual patients should be given greater support for improving their health and lowering overall health care costs, including incentives for achieving measurable health goals.