The Primary Solution:
Mending Texas’ Fractured Health Care System
Leading up to the 81st Texas Legislature in 2009, TAFP and its partners in the Primary Care Coalition researched the causes of the health care crisis facing Texas and developed recommendations to lay the foundation for an efficient, high-quality health care delivery system. With another session since passed, the facts of the document still stand.
The Problem: Texas’ Health Care System is Broken
In the absence of a health care delivery system that supports cost-effective, coordinated, high-quality care for patients, a fractured system has evolved that provides inefficient and expensive care to those who can afford it and allows those less fortunate to fall through the cracks.
- The cost of health care continues to outpace inflation, putting needed care out of reach for many Texans.
- Double-digit increases in insurance premiums drive a growing percentage of employers to shift health care costs to their employees, to limit options or to stop providing health insurance altogether. Yet the insurance market fails to provide accessible or affordable coverage for those in need.
- Texas currently faces a severe shortage of primary care physicians, which will only worsen as the population swells in coming years. However, the number of students choosing to specialize in primary care has fallen dramatically over the last decade.
- Patients without access to basic primary care fall victim to a fragmented system that doesn’t provide preventive, ongoing management of their health in a cost-effective and efficient manner. These patients tend to see multiple specialists for different problems, few of whom are aware of the full range of treatments their patients are receiving. This fragmentation leads to increased hospitalizations, poor-quality care and increased expense.
Past legislative action has addressed symptoms of the disease, but Texas as well as the nation needs a remedy that cures the disease itself. System-wide reform is the only option that offers a real solution. The Texas Legislature cannot cure this disease by itself, but if Texas doesn’t begin to build the foundation for an efficient, high-quality health care system, health care costs will continue to consume a growing portion of the state’s economy while the health of Texans suffers.