Newswise — Wake Forest economist Michael Lawlor is an expert on the economics of health and medicine. A professor of economics and health policy, he is also director of the University's health policy and administration minor.
Are we getting what we pay for in the U.S.? "Average life expectancy is one way to measure outcomes. According to most recent data, life expectancy in Germany is 80.5 years, Japan is 83 years and the U.S. is 78.7 years. The cost of health care services is extremely high in the United States and average American consumers, even if covered, do not get a greater quantity of health care services or even more convenience for the high cost they pay for health care compared to the average developed country. They simply pay more for each unit of that quantity.
How fast are healthcare costs rising in the U.S.? "Medical inflation tends to slow in recessions. And this is the case now. But health care prices, in recent years, have still managed to rise faster than the average prices of other items. An ever-increasing portion of the average households' budget is devoted to medical care."
How does the increase compare with the rate of increase experienced in other developed nations? "Health care expenditures in the U.S. have long been the highest and most rapidly advancing of any nation."
Will the Affordable Health Care Act help curb these costs? "The Affordable Health Care Act includes some minor provisions to control escalating medical costs, though the legislation is mostly designed to widen health care access not control costs."
Michael Lawlor is available to respond by email to a broad range of questions related to health care economics in the U.S.