Health care cost-control efforts in the United States can often be described simply as “changing incentives.” The focus on incentives can be traced to two main circumstances:
1) The majority of politicians have opposed efforts to reduce costs simply through government price-setting, a mechanism widely used around the world to control costs.
2) The incentives in the U.S. health care system have been severely misaligned for decades, with all the actors -- from consumers to employers to insurance companies to physicians and hospitals -- having incentives to increase spending.
The most notable cost-related health care system changes of the past decade have attacked some of this misalignment and those efforts have contributed to historically slow growth rates for health care costs over the last five years.
The one area primarily untouched by those changes, prescription drug costs, is also the one area where inflation is growing rapidly, with 12.2 percent growth in 2014. Yet there appears to be an effort in the House and Senate...