Americans spend huge amounts of money for ineffective care, declining life expectancy.
Radical change is needed to improve America’s failing health system, according to a new analysis published by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).
The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light a broader American health crisis in which life expectancy has been going down since 2014, said “Valuing America’s Health: Aligning Financing to Reward Better Health and Well-Being,” published this summer by NAM. Compared to other developed nations, the United States is suffering from chronic diseases, a mental health crisis, and rampant opioid overdoses, while spending $4.1 trillion a year on health care.
“Unfortunately, the United States faces a crisis in our collective health and well-being: declining life expectancy driven by long-standing and deepening inequities, a global pandemic, and the persistent inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and high cost of the nation’s health and health care system,” said the preface by J. Michael McGinnis, MD, MPP, NAM’s Leonard D. Schaeffer executive officer, and report steering group Chair Hoangmai Pham, MD, MPH.
They and coauthors called for a new focus on whole person health, “a person’s ability to thrive and attain their full, optimized potential for health and well-being.”
The committee set goals to reach by 2030 if critical stakeholders start taking action now.
The report included suggested action steps for patients, families, and communities; local, state, and federal legislators and policy makers; care delivery organizations and health systems; payers; employers; and the financial sector.
The NAM steering committee used business and government response to climate change as a model for how conditions can change for better across the globe in a relatively short period of time.
“The time for incrementalism is over,” the report said. “Americans must act quickly and collectively to appropriately value our health and change how we conceive of health and well-being going forward and shape the conditions that promote it. The urgency that has propelled change in responding to the climate crisis must now fuel how health and health care leaders consider our nation’s health.”