Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation has published a column that points out the stark differences between what experts believe and what the public believes about some of the key issues in health reform.
Using data collected from numerous Kaiser polls, Altman points out that there is a wide gulf on basic beliefs about what is behind the problems in the health care system and key elements of reform, especially delivery reform.
For example, experts believe the health care system is full of unnecessary care and troubling variations in care, and they are committed to the long-term reform of the health care delivery system to make it more efficient, smooth out variations and produce greater value for the health care dollar. On the other hand, the polls show that the public has a very different world view: People think that underservice is a bigger problem than overservice.
Altman’s article includes a chart that shows a number of the areas where the experts and the public are at odds on basic beliefs about underlying problems, delivery reform, and health care costs.
Starting with “Basic Beliefs,” the chart compares the thinking of experts with that of the public on the issue of why healthcare costs so much. The experts say it is because of costly advances in medical technology, and that consumers do not have enough “skin in the game.” The public, however blame the drug and insurance companies for making too much money. As for having more skin in the game, they say they are already paying too much.
Altman’s concludes is that more needs to be done to educate the public about why health costs are rising as fast as they are in the U.S. “As long as people think we can solve the problem of rising health care costs simply by eliminating waste, fraud and profiteering, the hard choices they hear experts and leaders talking about will not make much sense to them,” he writes.
But, Altman admits that this educational process will not be easy, saying that we probably need to produce Ross Perot-like charts and graphs, with basic facts about why we have the problems we do in the health care system.
I wouldn’t mind seeing some of those charts myself.