Three ways countries can reduce healthcare costs for businesses and consumers

Managing health care costs and promoting mental health benefits will be a top priority for U.S. employers over the next two years, according to a March 2022 survey Of more than 600 companies employ 10 million workers. The result is not surprising: health care costs have been a huge expense for employers for many years.

With federal mandates on what health insurance can and cannot look like, there’s not much states can do to reverse these trends. But there are policies countries can follow that will save money and increase access to health practitioners without the need for mandates or price caps.

The past two years have highlighted health care delivery and access. Countries have responded to the pandemic by relaxing regulations that have been restricting access to both services and service providers. These actions likely saved lives. Countries can and should promote policies that expand patient choices, increase competition, and stimulate innovation. By making these changes permanent, it will potentially help companies and individuals save money on their health care costs.

First, states must repeal laws that prevent nurse practitioners from working to the fullest extent of their education, training, and certifications. Just last month, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, signed a law Passed by the Republican-controlled legislature that allows nurse practitioners to practice independently without the supervision of a physician. There are now 26 states including Washington, D.C. and two US territories that allow for full independent exercise authority.

People are familiar with nurse practitioners and often see them when they are sick. It’s also the reason 81% of registered voters We believe that healthcare providers should be allowed to provide services in line with the full scope of their education and training. After all, nurse practitioners receive master’s or doctoral degrees, clinical training, and perform a wide range of physical and behavioral health care services. Research has shown Practicing nurses can manage 80-90 percent of the care provided by primary care physicians. This frees clinicians to focus on the 10-20 percent of patients with more complex problems.

Another opportunity to address health care costs, including mental health care, is to expand telehealth across state lines. Countries should allow patients to see the doctors of their choice wherever they are. Almost all states require health providers to obtain a license in the state where their patients are located, although education and training for these providers is standardized across the country.

Millions of Americans have enjoyed the benefits and cost savings of telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found that nearly all employers expect to provide virtual care to meet the demand for medical and behavioral health services. It saves both direct costs related to the visit and indirect costs related to time, travel and work leave.

Finally, 38 states restrict much-needed competition of health care services and facilities. These restrictions – called Certificate of Need (CON) laws – reduce competition and limit access to new technologies, providers, facilities, and services. Decades of research on CON laws have proven that they increase costs and reduce access but do not increase the quality of services. In a rare measure, the federal government revoked its mandate and funding for statewide CON laws in 1987, and Washington continues to encourage states to get rid of these laws because of their anti-competitive nature.

Companies may not specifically know the laws of CON, but are concerned about their implications. The March survey He says 73 percent of employers cited provider consolidation as a challenge to effectively deliver health care.

Anti-competitive measures — such as scope of practice restrictions, bans on the use of cell phones to see a doctor from anywhere, and CON laws — mean less competition. Lack of competition encourages standardization, stifles innovation, and increases prices. Countries should help companies manage the costs of health care benefits, especially as the pandemic subsides and the economy stabilizes on what appears to be a bumpy road.

Greg George is Director of Legislative Affairs at The Mackinac Center for Public PolicyIt is a research and educational institute located in Midland, Michigan.