Tool kit for talking health care

John Taylor: May 09, 20070 Comments

I'm always on the lookout for soundbites conveying the complexities of health care without causing MEGO. Here are some handy sniglets, gathered by the Tennessee Hospital Association from a variety of sources.

  • Paperwork: Every hour of patient care in the emergency department creates one hour of paperwork. Also, there are at least 36 different reports that measure hospital quality.

  • Hospital prices: Costs of goods and services purchased by hospitals have outpaced general inflation by 2 to 1.  (And since hospitals use energy 24/7, imagine what that would do to your PG&E bill.) 

  • Information technology: To create a workable national health IT system in five years would require hospitals to invest nearly $51 billion in capital and nearly $13 billion in annual operating costs.

  • Getting old: Nearly half of U.S. hospitals are aging and need to be replaced or massively overhauled. Between now and 2050, the percent of the Baby Boomer population (folks 65 and older) will grow from 12% currently to 21%.

  • Sick, getting sicker: People with chronic medical conditions account for 83% of all U.S. health care spending.  Nearly 30% of adults say they or someone in their household skipped medical care, cut pills into smaller sizes or didn't fill prescriptions over the last year because of the cost.

Lastly, the rules and instructions for Medicare and Medicaid cover more than 130,000 pages -- three times the size of the IRS code and its federal tax regs.