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Letter: Changes in U.S. health care are on the horizon

At last week’s CPBJ Health Symposium, keynote speaker Jeff Goldsmith had many timely observations about the future of health care in the United States and in Pennsylvania. He indicated in his keynote address that utilization trends in various medical service segments are reversing.

In his keynote address, “The Future of Health Care,” he noted that service volume has flattened or even decreased within the last few years. Slides from Goldsmith’s presentation showed physician visits, most types of imaging tests and other types of health care services have not continued the upward trend of using more services.

It’s not too surprising. Only the previous week, economic analysts on business television stations had been reporting the same. Health care sector analysts had been lukewarm about this sector of the economy, noting that health care expenditures were becoming similar to other types of discretionary spending, with consumers cutting back on health care services.

This is the result of more and more cost shifting to the patient. Discussions with hospital leaders indicate hospital co-pays are down, and prescriptions are not being filled.

As patients and consumers begin to incur more out-of-pocket costs for services, the amount of medical services purchased and the types of insurance coverage being bought will almost certainly be changing.

—Brian Ricco,

Reading

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