Health care continues to be an intense battleground for debate in America, characterized by polarizing partisan arguments. While both ordinary citizens and experts struggle with fears of ever-increasing costs of health care and higher premiums, we must also consider another issue within the U.S. health care system: many common medical treatments are not based on sound science. According to Eric Patashnik and others in a recent book, part of this problem stems from a political unwillingness to embrace evidence-based medicine. This often results in patients undergoing too many procedures, too few of which actually work.
On Wednesday, October 4, Brookings hosted a group of panelists to discuss why the government’s response to these problems has been inadequate, and what can be done to ground health care in firm, reliable science. What political incentives are in place that undercut proper testing protocols for new medicines and procedures? And more importantly, what can be done to improve both health care and politics to ensure that quality care can be delivered to all Americans?
The forum began with an opening presentation, followed by a panel discussion. After the session, speakers took questions from the audience.
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Health insurance is just a financial instrument...It’s going to be as valuable to the client, or the patient, as the care that it can buy. [Rising demand for treatment] is just going to lead to all kinds of cost escalation...That is the nature of an insurance-driven market. Neither the caregiver — the doctor — nor the patient has any incentives to reduce costs.