Economic Perspective: Is There Hope for Controlling Health Care Costs?

NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences professor Dr. Mike Walden working in a recording studio.

MARY WALDEN:

“Today’s program asks if there is hope for controlling health care costs. Mike, there’s an old saying in sports about superb players. “You can’t stop them. You just want to control them.” We could say the same thing today about health care costs. We can’t stop them from rising. Instead, we just want to control the rise. Is there any hope in accomplishing this?”

MIKE WALDEN:

“And of course this has been a question for decades, and it’s becoming more and more of question because of the aging population. That aging population is using health care more, and we have the ability to do more in health care. I think the answer about controlling health care costs is going to rely on two things: technology and nutrition.”

“There are some exciting things that could be taking place in technology regarding health care. For example, having people set up to where their vital signs are taken every day, and that’s communicated to their doctors so that the doctors can get a headstart on assessing problems. And if you can get those problems dealt with early you can save a lot of money.”

“Also remote medical procedures may be something in the future where people will avoid costly trips to doctors and hospitals. Maybe a lot of procedures actually could be done in a person’s home using technology.”

“And then nutrition. I think there’s a great awareness today about how nutrition is so important to our life, in particular regarding health care, and I think there’s more of a focus in matching nutrition with health care and trying to deliver foods that are fun to eat, that are enjoyable to eat, but are nutritious and help put off or reduce health problems. So I think that’s another area where we have hope that combining technology and nutrition can help control those health care costs.”

Mike Walden is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Extension Economist in
the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University who
teaches and writes on personal finance, economic outlook and public policy.

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