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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Expanding Primary Care Network Can Slow Growth Rate in Health Spending

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I’m Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

A recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that health spending has slowed significantly since 2009. The study projects that 2013 will be the fourth year in a row of relatively flat growth in health spending.

Medical cost containment strategies, the sluggish economy, and efforts by employers contributed to hold down health spending. Even with the flat growth, more than half of the 1,400 employers surveyed said they are considering increasing the share of health benefit costs paid by their employees.

The survey also cited new methods of primary care delivery as one factor that could hold down cost. For example, lower-cost primary care options such as workplace clinics are making an impact. Both employers and consumers see them as a convenient and cost-effective way to hold down cost.

As the economy strengthens, it is likely consumers will increase use of health services. That means we will need expanded access to primary care providers in convenient, cost-effective settings.

Texas Health is collaborating with physicians, employers and insurance companies to expand the primary care network and hold down cost. Together, we’re developing models of accountable care that offer physicians the tools and the support they need to manage their patient populations across the continuum of care.

For our faith-based health system — Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Arlington Memorial — I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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