HEALTHCARE POLICY EXPERT: These are the 2 things I wish more people understood about their healthcare

Sherry Glied, Dean of New York University’s Robert F Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and former assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services, reveals the two things she wishes more people understood about their healthcare. Following is a transcript of the video.

DR. SHERRY GLIED: There’s two things about the healthcare system that people don’t appreciate enough. One of them is how extremely concentrated healthcare costs are.

If I take any random group of 100 people, the hundred people you work with, the hundred people you go to school with, one of those people in any given year is going to account for 25% of the costs of the whole group. Half of those people are going to account for 3% of the costs of the whole group.

If you’re an insurance company, and you can insure the half that’s only going to cost 3%, you’re doing a lot better than the insurance company that just happens to be unlucky enough to get that one person who turns out to be sick.

That makes healthcare really hard to deal with because it’s like playing hot potato. Who’s going to be stuck with the person who’s really sick at the end of the day? And there’s a lot of waste in the system that consists of just moving that person around.

And there’s a lot of waste in the system that consists of just moving that person around.
The second thing I wish people understood is that the reason healthcare costs get higher and higher every year — and this is different from why US healthcare costs are higher than other countries, this is a problem that’s true everywhere in the world — is that we are able to do so much more for people than we were able to in the past.

People are living longer lives, they’re on the whole, living healthier lives. We see older people playing tennis. We see all kinds of extraordinary innovations in healthcare.

People with Hepatitis C who had a death sentence just five or eight years ago and now can just finish their drugs and walk away with it. People surviving cancer — that all costs an awful lot of money, and it’s money we didn’t have to spend 50 years ago ’cause we didn’t know how to do any of those things and those people just died or suffered.

So, we get a lot for our dollar and that’s part of what makes this so hard too. We’re taking away something that’s really valuable and important to people.