Data & Research

Despite a wealth of perspectives in the health care spending conversation, there remain significant gaps in research that looks at how—and how well—society invests health care dollars. Without this evidence, stakeholders capable of implementing real change will not be able to meaningfully discuss how to prioritize health care spending.

Through partnerships with several health research organizations, the Going Below the Surface initiative will pursue research that investigates a number of important topics related to health care spending with the goal of enabling a more informed and action-oriented conversation.

Among the initial research topics that being explored as part of Going Below the Surface are:

  1. International comparison of health care spending:  Although the United States invests more in health care than other developed countries, this doesn’t always translate into better outcomes for all conditions. What accounts for this?  The headlines here are often simplistic, and teasing out exactly how we pay for each element of health care can help us avoid misguided solutions that are nonetheless simple and attractive.
  2. Lessons learned from health care allocation efforts outside the United States:  The United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia and other countries have employed methods to limit health care spending and allocate health care resources.  An understanding of those efforts can provide lessons learned, what to avoid and whether those approaches can be applied in the United States’ pluralistic health care environment.
  3. Framework for discussing tradeoffs:  Ethical and economic considerations underpin the issues of allocation and tradeoffs. Enumerating and understanding them can make a productive dialogue more likely.
  4. Assessing willingness to pay:  Consumers, patients, employers and health plans likely differ in how much they might be willing to pay for improving health.  Survey data can ground future discussions.
  5. Understanding why efforts to reduce low value care been generally unsuccessful:  If low-value-care dollars are to be harnessed, an understanding of what has hampered prior efforts may yield answers for greater future success.