The cost of healthcare in the United States has been steadily rising for decades. Americans now pay more per capita for healthcare than any other developed country in the world.
There is no single, simple solution to the problem. Reining in healthcare spending will require a concerted, collaborative effort between policymakers, healthcare organizations, and society as a whole.
But by implementing the right strategies, we can start to bend the cost curve while still providing quality care to all who need it.
Ways You Can Curb Healthcare Expenses
Here are five ways we can begin lowering healthcare expenses:
1. Streamline Medical Supplies and Equipment
One significant yet often overlooked area where healthcare providers can curb expenses is optimizing the use of medical supplies and equipment.
Too often, redundant supplies are ordered, leading to waste when they go unused and expire. Or nurses spend an inordinate amount of time locating needed items spread across various storage closets.
Implementing standardized pieces of equipment like Pace procedure carts can vastly improve the efficiency and organization of medical supplies.
These customizable carts consolidate all the necessary supplies and medications for specific procedures into one well-organized mobile unit.
With everything in one place, nurses no longer have to scramble to fetch individual items from multiple locations. This saves substantial time and frustration. It also prevents wasteful scenarios where opened supplies go unused and then expire because they can’t be easily found when needed again.
The improved workflow and inventory management of implementing such organized equipment enable hospitals and clinics to deliver streamlined care while optimizing the use of resources – a winning combination for curbing excessive healthcare expenses.
2. Invest in Preventative Care and Health Education
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This old adage rings especially true when it comes to healthcare spending. It’s far cheaper to prevent diseases than to treat them after the fact.
Boosting investments in preventative medicine and health education can lower healthcare costs in the short and long run. Basic preventative care like immunizations, cancer screenings, and annual check-ups helps catch issues in the early stages when they’re most treatable.
Health and wellness programs also equip people with the knowledge to make choices that will keep them healthier and out of the hospital.
For prevention efforts to make a real dent, they must be made affordable and accessible to all. That means providing health insurance that fully covers recommended preventative services.
It also means expanding health education through trusted community organizations and meeting people where they are with tailored messaging. An emphasis on prevention improves community health outcomes and pays dividends down the road.
3. Increase Use of Generic Prescription Drugs
The high prices of brand-name drugs are a major driver of rising healthcare premiums. While new drug development can have benefits, brand-name drugs are often exorbitantly expensive without justification for the extra cost.
We can reduce spending by making it easier for doctors and patients to choose equivalent generic drug options.
Generic drugs provide the same active ingredients as brand-name versions but at a fraction of the price. On average, generics cost 30 to 80% less. By making generics more widely accessible and affordable, we can save billions in medication expenses each year.
Insurance companies and government health programs should have incentives or requirements in place for pharmacies to substitute generics whenever available. Drug manufacturers should also face stricter guidelines on which drugs qualify for patents and brand-name markup.
Promoting the use of quality, affordable generic prescriptions lowers costs across the entire healthcare system.
Patients benefit from cheaper medication, insurers save on claims, and drug manufacturers maintain healthy competition. It’s one simple strategy with the potential for big savings.
4. Reduce Administrative Waste
Studies estimate that 15-25% or more of total US healthcare spending goes toward administrative overhead rather than direct care. This includes costs like billing, reporting requirements, and insurance claims processing.
Excess administrative costs burden patients, providers, and insurers without improving health outcomes. By streamlining bureaucracies in our healthcare system, we can divert billions from needless paperwork toward actually providing care.
Strategies like adopting electronic health records, consolidating redundant procedures, simplifying billing systems, and reducing complexity in health insurance plans can help cut down on administrative waste. Government action can also help reduce spending on paperwork.
While some administrative functions are necessary, a leaner, simplified system translates to lower healthcare costs overall. Doing away with red tape and inefficiency allows more resources to go toward the fundamentals of making people well.
5. Provide More Care in Community-Based Settings
Hospitals play an indispensable role in healthcare, but they also top the list of costly care settings. We can reduce expenses by transitioning some services to more affordable community-based locations when appropriate.
These alternative settings, like clinics, free-standing surgery centers, and telehealth programs, provide safe, high-quality care at a fraction of the price.
Shifting care to settings like these when feasible keeps costs manageable while still providing needed services.
Patients can get the right care at the right place and at the right price. Investing more in community care infrastructure and delivery models gives people options that save money while maintaining health.
Rising healthcare spending in America is clearly unsustainable. But by implementing smart reforms that realign incentives and eliminate inefficiency, we can successfully stabilize costs. The suggestions above offer starting points for lowering expenses while maintaining access to quality care.