Why are Healthcare Prices So High, and What can be Done about Them?

An archived webcast of this forum is now available at www.healthsystemtracker.org .

Nearly a fifth of the United States’ economy goes to healthcare spending – a far larger share than in any other large, wealthy country in the world. Research suggests that price, rather than the volume of services, is the main driver of this disparity, and price is also a primary factor in pushing up the nation’s health spending over time.

On May 9, 2018, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Peterson Center on Healthcare held a forum focused on healthcare prices (a video of the forum will be posted soon). Experts in healthcare economics, delivery, and policy examined reasons behind high prices and variation, how other countries address healthcare prices, and practical strategies in the U.S. At the forum, two new analyses were released examining healthcare prices and utilization in the U.S. compared to other countries, and variations in prices in employer plans over time and by geography.

KFF Senior Vice President for Health Reform Larry Levitt moderated, and Peterson Center on Healthcare Executive Director Jay Want, MD, and KFF Vice President Gary Claxton provided opening and framing remarks. Additional participants: 

  • Gerard Anderson, Professor of Health Policy and Management and Professor of International Health, Johns Hopkins University
  • Lawrence Brown, Professor of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University
  • Jenny Bryant, Senior Vice President of Policy and Research, PhRMA
  • James C. Capretta, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
  • Cynthia Cox, Director of the Program for the Study of Health Reform and Private Insurance, KFF
  • Patricia Danzon, Professor of Health Care Management, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Martin S. Gaynor, Professor of Economics and Health Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Kris Haltmeyer, Vice President for Health Policy and Analysis, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
  • Melinda Hatton, General Counsel, American Hospital Association
  • Robert Murray, former Executive Director of the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission
  • Robin Osborn, Vice President and Director of the International Program in Health Policy and Practice Innovations, Commonwealth Fund


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