It’s no secret that health care costs in the U.S. are rising at a record pace. We read about it in the papers, hear pundits arguing about solutions and we certainly feel it paying medical bills. What might not be so obvious, though, is that continuing down the same path is not just a bad idea, it’s not possible.

Health care spending at the current rate is simply unsustainable. The total US health expenditures in 2013 reached $2.9 trillion, and another $1.5 trillion will likely be added in the next 7 years.

Unfortunately, Minnesota’s future doesn’t look any brighter. General fund spending on health programs in Minnesota has doubled in the last 25 years. It’s increased so much that health programs and K-12 education now represent about 2/3rds of ALL the state’s general fund spending. That doesn’t leave much room for the rest of Minnesota’s important priorities like transportation, housing and preservation.

Knowing that this rate of spending is not sustainable, experts are looking for solutions and changes are happening. All too often though, those changes only shift costs from one payer to another. We need solutions that will actually reduce the rising costs of health care.

Minnesota HealthBasics was created to help identify potential common-ground solutions. It may well be that meaningful health reform will not come from government, but from consumers, providers, insurers and employers. Minnesota HealthBasics hopes to create the conversations that will lead to smart solutions.

Here are some of the good ideas we’ve heard talking to Minnesotans around the state:

  • Prevention –While HealthBasics research shows that a majority of Minnesotans don’t believe in punishing those who don’t take care of themselves, they do support incentives for people who do. And, Minnesotans in the forums reinforce the notion that improving the health of others benefits everyone.
  • New care models –An integrated care system that includes alternative care—homeopathic, chiropractic and acupuncture, for example—into existing primary clinics.
  • More information – More information — More accessible information on quality and cost would be useful, especially if it came from sources people trust. While many people in forums talked about a “Consumer Reports” – type source, there is little consensus on specific examples of organizations that earn broad trust on the issues of health cost and quality.
  • Research –Minnesotans are tired of political rhetoric. Health policy and health care should be based on what works and what is most effective.
  • Look ahead – Minnesota’s population is changing which impacts health care. Find solutions that will continue to work into the future and work for a more diverse and aging population.

Do you agree with these priorities? We want to hear your ideas. Join us on Facebook, Twitter or host a forum to really dive into the issues. Not sure how to get started? Email mnhealthbasics@gmail.com with thoughts, questions and as always, your good ideas.