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Health Care Expenditures Reexamined

Victor R. Fuchs, PhD, MA
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

From Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.

Acknowledgments: The author thanks Ezekiel Emanuel and Alan Garber for helpful comments.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: Dr. Fuchs has received honoraria for speeches given to medical, hospital, and other health organizations.

Current Author Address: Victor R. Fuchs, PhD, MA, 30 Alta Road, Stanford, CA 94305; e-mail, fuchs@newage3.stanford.edu.

Ann Intern Med. 2005;143(1):76-78. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-143-1-200507050-00012
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Concern about health care expenditures is not a new phenomenon. Seventy-five years ago, President Herbert Hoover appointed a committee to investigate the cost of medical care under the chairmanship of Ray Lyman Wilbur, MD, president of Stanford University (1). Thirty-eight years ago, John Gardner, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, convened a national conference on medical care costs (2). Since then, not a year has passed without professional and lay periodicals addressing this subject. Most recently, Annals has published 4 articles by Thomas Bodenheimer on health care costs, the last of which, coauthored by Alicia Fernandez, appears in this issue (36). These articles provide valuable background material and address several key questions about expenditures from many different perspectives. Possible approaches to cost containment are discussed, with special emphasis on the potential role of physicians and with the caveat that this is “an overview of a complex topic, written by a noneconomist for noneconomists” (3).

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