In this issue of JAMA, Emanuel and colleagues propose an Affordability Index to measure the ability of the average US household to pay for its medical expenses. As the authors point out, standard economic measures used to track health spending do not adequately represent the effect of rising costs on families.
Emanuel and colleagues correctly observe that aggregated measures of health spending in the United States are not helpful to most people. Their intent is to create a measure using readily accessible data that is intuitive and easy for the average person to understand. Such an index, if widely adopted, might help galvanize public support for efforts to bring more cost discipline to the provision of medical care.
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