In Senate Testimony, Fund's Schoen Recommends Learning from Health Reforms in Other Nations

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<p>Virtually all advanced countries other than the U.S. have health insurance systems that guarantee coverage for all, access to care, and financial protection—and they do so while spending far less on health care than the U.S. So what's their secret? </p>
<p>In <a href="/publications/publication/2009/oct/testimony-us-health-reforms-improve-access-outcomes-and-value">invited testimony</a> yesterday before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Cathy Schoen, The Commonwealth Fund’s senior vice president for research and evaluation, described strategies and some innovative policies enacted by other nations to improve performance, enhance value, and harness markets and competition in the public interest.</p><p></p>Schoen told the committee that several core strategies span diverse nations, although approaches vary. These include:<br />
<ul class="">
<li>Health insurance coverage for everyone, and value-based insurance benefit designs that emphasize access, financial protection, and effective care </li>
<li>Payment policies that stress value, not volume, and use group-purchasing power, with a focus on promoting primary care, prevention, and effective management of chronic disease </li>
<li>System reforms that harness markets and competition in the public interest and generate and use information to spur improved performance and innovation </li>
<li>Strong leadership, goals, and targets—including coordinated efforts by multiple payers to achieve those targets. </li>
<p class="">Although reform was a difficult process in many of these countries, "national governments responded to the needs of their populations at historic moments and took action," Schoen said. "By covering everyone and incorporating incentives and reforms that focus on value, other countries have continued to invest and innovate to provide access to high-quality, innovative care systems with an emphasis on patient-centered, effective, and efficient care."</p>