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Bringing down the cost of healthcare in the U.S.




Dr. Jason Greenspan (L) and emergency room nurse Junizar Manansala care for a patient in the ER of Mission Community Hospital where doctors held a press conference outside on a class action lawsuit against the state of California by a coalition of emergency room physicians claiming that without additional funding, the entire emergency healthcare system is on the verge of collapse on January 28, 2009 in Panorama City, California.
Dr. Jason Greenspan (L) and emergency room nurse Junizar Manansala care for a patient in the ER of Mission Community Hospital where doctors held a press conference outside on a class action lawsuit against the state of California by a coalition of emergency room physicians claiming that without additional funding, the entire emergency healthcare system is on the verge of collapse on January 28, 2009 in Panorama City, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

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The United States spends nearly $4 trillion a year on healthcare. To put that into perspective, that’s over one-sixth of the entire national debt. Healthcare prices in the U.S. for things like pharmaceuticals, healthcare policies, diagnostic procedures, and hospital care are some of the highest in the world, and are all major factors in the rising cost of healthcare in the U.S.

There’s no question that something needs to be done to bring these costs down, but there are plenty of questions to be asked about how this should be done. Is it a matter of reducing the amount of wasteful healthcare spending, or money spent on care that does not ultimately benefit the patient? Are unit prices too high? Are there too many frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits? Is the Affordable Care Act driving spending through the roof? Should we be spending less on end of life care for the elderly, many of whom would rather die at home than in an ICU? AirTalk has assembled a panel of healthcare experts from several fields to discuss why healthcare costs are so high in the U.S. and what can be done to bring those costs to a lower level that’s closer to what other countries are spending on healthcare.

Guests:

Dylan Roby, assistant professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute

Dr. Arnie Milstein, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Clinical Research Excellence at Stanford University