NU Online News Service, May 21, 2003, 12:03 p.m. EDT – Health policy researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change, Washington, say efforts to control U.S. health care cost increases seem to have broken down.
Most U.S. employers have given up on using health plans to hold down costs and improve the quality of care, and doctors and hospitals are rushing to add expensive services of questionable value, the researchers conclude in a report on trips to four major health care markets.
The health systems center sends researchers to look at 12 markets every two years. The latest round of community visits included Cleveland, Indianapolis, Seattle and northern New Jersey.
Some employers have been trying to hold down cost increases by adopting a “defined contribution” approach and agreeing to pay only a fixed amount for health coverage for each employee. Other employers have simply increased the premium contributions and out-of-pocket costs employees must pay to get traditional health coverage.