It was therefore encouraging that the recently passed $787 billion stimulus package included $1.1 billion for funding comparative research into the relative efficiency of different drugs, medical devices, or surgical procedures for treating the same specific condition. The aim is to steer healthcare expenditures toward the most cost-effective treatment methods. This type of comparative analysis is often revealing.
However, given the scale of the cost challenges facing the healthcare system, the scope of the comparative cost analysis program in the stimulus package was strikingly timid. A far more informative comparative analysis would focus on contrasting the costs of different healthcare systems rather than just treatment options; in other words between the levels of total healthcare spending versus outcomes in different countries.
Not only is the US system seemingly inefficient in a static sense, the problems are expected to get worse over time. The CBO projects massive growth in federal spending for medicare and medicaid: Note that this is largely due to "excess cost growth" - that is, health care costs continuing to increase faster than inflation; the aging of the population makes a relatively minor contribution. While the CBO's projection is for the federal programs, rising costs will only make things worse for the employer-based private system as well.
Therefore, its good that the administration is taking the issue on, once more.... Matthew Yglesias says a political compromise might resemble the Swiss model.