We’ve become accustomed of late to stories telling us we get too much healthcare. We get too much of the Three Ts—treatments, tests, and technology—which has become the dominant narrative in the ongoing tale of US healthcare spending. So it’s refreshing when a story comes along like the one last week from Remapping Debate that reported on those who get too little care. It’s been as if the media forgot about the great paradox of US healthcare: overtreatment and undertreatment exist side by side.
This story shows that the goals of the Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration might be a tad more complicated than the policy wonks and the press led the public to believe. Reporter Mike Alberti points out that “some of President Obama’s advisers have framed the goals of healthcare reform exclusively from the perspective of the need to cut costs, as opposed to the need to increase access of quality of care.” For an example, he quotes one member of the healthcare cognoscenti, Harvard professor David Cutler, who has written that “the ‘true measure of healthcare reform’s success is whether it drives down medical costs over the long term.’”