A comprehensive set of insurance, payment, and system reforms could guarantee affordable health insurance coverage, improve health outcomes, and slow the growth of health spending by $3 trillion by the end of the next decade, according to a new report released today by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System. The report, The Path to a High Performance U.S. Health System: A 2020 Vision and the Policies to Pave the Way, details the Commission’s recommendations for an integrated set of policies and assesses the impacts of specific policy actions from 2010 to 2020, compared to the status quo.
The report lays out strategic reforms that simultaneously aim to improve access, enhance quality, and control costs. Many of these reforms will be politically difficult – but are necessary to put the U.S. health system on a different path. Ensuring coverage and improving quality, while also achieving savings can be accomplished in large part because of payment changes that reward efficiency and penalize waste. Although spending slows as a result of reforms, it would still increase each year.
A central recommendation is to create a national insurance exchange that would offer a choice of private plans and a new public plan, coupled with insurance reforms that would make coverage affordable, ensure access, and lower administrative costs. Building on this foundation, the report recommends policies that would change the way the nation pays for care, invest in information systems to improve quality and safety, and promote health.
(SOURCES: The Commonwealth Fund, http://commonwealthfund.org, February 19, 2009)