American healthcare: more for less?

A new trend in healthcare is underway in America, writes Vox's Sarah Kliff in her latest analysis. She's calling it "the get more, pay less" era.

This shift, according to Kliff, is the mixture of two elements: more people are gaining healthcare coverage, and there is growing evidence it will cost less over the long haul.

"We are seeing historic moderation in costs now over a considerable period of time," said Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman, notes in the article. KFF recently released data showing slow growth of employer-sponsored coverage. 

This is all fine and good, but what does this mean for the insurance industry?

An interesting observation, is the slow growth isn't limited to one particular insurance plan or program, Kliff writes. The changes are industry-wide.

With regard to private health insurance: the Kaiser Family Foundation recently published research finding the average benchmark price of Affordable Care Act insurance will fall slightly in 2015. Lower premiums and narrower networks are both evidence of get more, pay less, the Vox article says. Over the past few years--and especially under ACA--insurers have gravitated towards cheaper premium plans to offer access to a smaller number of doctors.

These plans' more limited doctor choice can have a big impact on spending. Research from economists Jon Gruber and Robin McKnight found that, in one example, switching enrollees to these plans cut overall spending by one third. And while patients had access to fewer hospitals, the hospitals that were in network were of equally good quality.

Indeed, the Vox story falls in line with what others are writing. Earlier this year, Small Business Trends suggested providers should keep an eye out for key trends in the second quarter of this year that will lower healthcare costs. These trends include: greater emphasis on cost-control accountability, increased use of private insurance exchanges; and adapting to the needs of younger generations, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the Vox article

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