When it comes to reining in healthcare costs, we're doing it all wrong. That's the conclusion of a new Cato Institute study which examines whether some of the underlying premises behind Obamacare actually hold up. Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies for Cato, says they don't. "Giving people health insurance does not reduce emergency room use, and diverting people to primary care settings rather than the emergency room does not reduce spending," he tells KTRH. "So that's two broken Obamacare promises."
The study used groups of low-income uninsured patients and gave them various cash incentives for using a Primary Care Physician (PCP) while still having the option of using the emergency room. "This study shows that even if people use primary care rather than go to the emergency room, it does not reduce health spending," says Cannon. "Yes, that initial primary care visit costs less than the emergency room visit, but (those patients) end up using so many more subsequent services that it cancels out any savings."
The researchers ultimately conclude that Obamacare was built on faulty premises, which explains why healthcare costs have continued to increase since its implementation. "What this study tells us is that Obamacare, as it goes forward, is going to keep increasing healthcare spending, not reducing it," says Cannon.
Cannon believes the real solution lies in a more patient-centered approach. "I think we need to turn around and follow a different path, one that puts consumers in control of their healthcare dollars and decisions," he says.