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In an opinion piece published in the December edition of the American Journal of Public Health, Frederick Zimmerman, UCLA FSPH professor of health policy and management, shares his perspective on the "Inverse U" of medical spending and health in the United States.
The United States has struggled for decades to provide its citizens appropriate and affordable medical care. To improve the efficiency and net efficacy of medical care, the first task is simply to recognize that more spending on care is not always better.
Physicians know that patients do best when they get the right care at the right time. Too little medical care can lead to poor outcomes, and in some cases even death. Too much medical care can also lead to poor outcomes, and in some cases also death.
What is true at the individual level is equally true for the population. A society in which no resources at all are spent on medical care will have very poor health; yet a society in which all resources are spent on medical care will also have low life expectancy, as needs for food and shelter go unmet.