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Health care represents approximately 20% of the US economy with $3.5 trillion in spending annually.1 For many key health-related quality measures, the United States lags behind other developed countries. The intersection of access to health care, quality, and cost is a complex tangle of urgent issues that are vitally important to the health of patients. And a fundamental question—is health care a right or privilege?—remains unanswered. While many in the United States receive exceptional care and about 20 million fewer individuals are uninsured2 following enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the number of uninsured is again increasing, now close to an estimated 27.5 million or 8.5% of the US population.3 Financial support for health and health care is also a growing challenge for low-, middle-, and high-income countries around the world.
JAMA and the JAMA Network journals increasingly publish research articles and commentaries related to health care policy, strategy, delivery, and economics, and our editorial ambition is to use the Network platform to provide high-quality content to inform the debate about the future of health care in the United States and globally. In service of that mission, we are launching a new channel of information—JAMA Health Forum—to assemble and highlight health policy content from across the JAMA Network with interpretive commentary and analysis. John Z. Ayanian, MD, MPP, Alice Hamilton Distinguished University Professor of Medicine and Healthcare Policy and director of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan, will serve as Editor of this new channel. Melinda B. Buntin, PhD, Mike Curb Professor and Chair, Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, will be Deputy Editor.
This channel will gather health policy articles and multimedia, including podcasts and videos, from across the JAMA Network on a single website (ie, channel) and will feature additional brief assessments written by Drs Ayanian and Buntin and others. The JAMA Forum, an ongoing collection of opinion posts from leading health care strategists, will move to the channel. Additional commentary—blog posts—will be sought from experts on current events, important developments, and controversial issues; and brief news summaries will cover major reports from national and international foundations, and governmental and nongovernmental agencies.
Why launch this channel now? The public consistently ranks health care as a major concern in the United States and many other countries, and health care will again figure prominently in the upcoming US presidential election. The provision of health insurance frames the health care debate, from private insurance to the future of the ACA to Medicare for All, centering on whether and how to change health care delivery so that more individuals are insured, quality improves, and costs are contained. The cost of drugs continues to be actively covered by the media, along with other key issues, such as out-of-network billing, surprise billing, and high-deductible health plans. A recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that annual premiums for US employer-sponsored health insurance reached $20?576 for family coverage in 2019, with employees contributing $6015, an increase of 25% since 2014.4 When the US national economy is less robust and state tax revenues flatten or decline, the debate over rationing of services and the cost of Medicaid, a shared federal-state partnership, will once again become intense. We share the same sense of urgency for progress that physicians, other clinicians, health policy experts, policy makers, and most importantly the public have about these issues.
Our expectation is that this channel will ultimately become a stand-alone, authoritative, and influential journal (like our other specialty journals, such as JAMA Internal Medicine and JAMA Oncology) and will be devoted to publishing original research and commentary on health care policy, strategy, delivery, and economics throughout the world. JAMA Health Forum lays the foundation for that transition and will provide a dynamic channel that features content from across the JAMA Network, publishes editorial comment and expert analysis and opinion, and serves readers and the public with an authoritative source of information on timely and important topics related to health care policies, strategies, and systems.
Additional information about the JAMA Health Forum is available at https://jamahealthforum.com, and interested readers can sign up for alerts about new health care policy content published from the JAMA Network.
Corresponding Author: Howard Bauchner, MD (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: December 12, 2019. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.19691
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
Bauchner H, Easley TJ. JAMA Health Forum—A New Channel of Information. JAMA. 2020;323(4):318. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.19691
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