As a member of the media, people always ask me what I think the big trends are at the shows I attend. At the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) imaging conference in December the economy was not the big discussion in sessions or in vendor booths, but it seemed to be the only thing I overheard in hundreds of conversations as I walked through the halls. At ACC, concern over the economy was put front and center as part of the event's opening remarks by ACC President Douglas Weaver and healthcare economist Uwe Reinhardt, Ph.D. Reinhardt gave a step-by-step tutorial for attendees on how the economic crisis developed and how it will likely impact healthcare not just this year, but well into the future.
Reinhardt said healthcare costs are also rising at an unsustainable rate that is beginning to price the lower half of the economy out of healthcare insurance. At current rates of growth healthcare costs could make up as much as 50 percent of people’s payroll deductions by 2018. However, he said this is unlikely, as most companies would likely dump their employee insurance coverage before rates reached that level, leaving many uninsured. He pointed to healthcare plans being mulled over in Washington as possible solutions, such as a major expansion of Medicare to help cover Americans under the age of 65. But, he warns with any type of government expansion into healthcare would likely come a strong federal mandate to reduce costs.
As Reinhardt reflected on the economic crisis he pointed out the Chinese word for “crisis” is made up of the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” He said this should be kept in mind as physicians and manufacturers plan for the future.
Despite questions about the future, companies exhibiting at ACC continue to churn out new product releases. For more information on news from ACC and other products being shown at the event visit our dedicated ACC FastPass Web site (www.accfastpass.com/acc).
Contact Dave Fornell at [email protected]