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Urban Institute Examines Policy Choices on Rising Health Costs

DECEMBER 19, 2005 -- A new report released by the Urban Institute, a liberal think tank, argues that the distribution of health expenditures is skewed, with the minority of high-cost patients accounting for the majority of health care expenditures.

The report describes a shift from insurance-covered costs to individual out-of-pocket payments, in a move to reduce medical expenditures and encourage consumer cost-consciousness.

The report examines two policy approaches to the problem. In the first, high-risk individuals could apply for random assignment to a private insurance carrier and pay income-related premiums with the government paying the balance.

In the second approach, states would identify a high-risk pool of individuals and the benefit costs in excess of premiums would be financed by the federal government or jointly by the federal government and the states.

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