The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services today published its annual National Health Expenditure data, and not surprisingly, health care spending has continued to grow, reaching $3.6 trillion in 2018, or $11,172 per person. The data, published in Health Affairs, showed that while health care spending increased, it comprised a slightly smaller share of the economy (17.7%) than in previous years, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP).

While it’s clear that health care comprises a significant portion of our GDP, we need to dig deeper on the why and what behind this spending. Are we spending too much on low value care or administrative waste, or are we spending too little on preventive care? How should we be allocating our health care dollars? What can we do to improve how we spend our scarce health care resources and ensure we are delivering quality care and improving patients’ lives?

Rather than sitting idly by, last year the Going Below The Surface Forum was convened to tackle health spending issues and consider these tough questions through an informed, sustained and action-oriented dialogue. The GBTS Forum, representing patient groups, providers, payers, employers and life science organizations, already has kicked off a series of programs, including:

  • An initiative to address low-value, or unnecessary care, which costs the U.S. health system $340 billion annually for treatments or services that don’t offer real value for patients. The Forum will share further details about this effort during a Jan. 15 webinar – stay tuned for additional information about how to participate in this event.
  • Engaging community health care leaders at the state and local level through town hall meetings to call attention to health spending topics and potential solutions. To date, the Forum has hosted four meetings, with additional meetings planned for Manchester, N.H.; Richmond, Va.; Las Vegas; and Miami in 2020.
  • Publishing a monthly e-newsletter dedicated to exploring new research and insights into health spending questions.

We recognize that no one entity – government or otherwise – can reduce health care spending overnight, not to mention that such a draconian approach would likely leave patients less well off. Instead, we’re committed to working on impactful, evidence-based solutions with partners across the health care sector so that we can keep the growth in health care spending in check. We hope you’ll join us in these efforts — follow us on social media using #GoingBelowTheSurface or send us an email at