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Bending the cost curve vital to building sustainable health care system

updated April 2013

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides a foundation for changing our health care delivery system, it is not a perfect solution. There is still hard work ahead as consumers, medical providers, health plans and elected officials must come together to find ways to bend the cost curve.

If we are truly interested in slowing the growth of health insurance premiums, we must find ways to address the primary cost drivers of our current system: the number of services that Americans require and the cost of those medical services. This will require cultural changes; we'll need to move away from a system built on paying for sick care to one that focuses on wellness and quality of care.

Each of us will need to commit to living healthier lives and striving to avoid the chronic health conditions that are costly to treat, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obesity-related conditions. We need to eat healthier, build 30 minutes of moderate activity into our daily schedule and quit smoking.

In addition, we must create an alternative payment model that moves away from fee-for-service – paying a doctor or hospital based on the number of services they provide – to one that rewards for quality. There are many possible approaches to a new reimbursement system that need to be thoroughly discussed and understood so the best solution can be determined.