Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Reasons Health Care Costs Keep Rising

This American Life had a fascinating program today why the costs of health care are so high and keep rising. The show was divided into three stories: doctors, patients and insurance companies.

The answer? All three. Doctors, who are paid by the procedure, perform too many. Patients are convinced that more care is better care and don't want to pass up a test or treatment (such as prostate cancer screening). And then there are insurance companies, which try to control costs to remain profitable.

What I came away with was confirmation of my earlier opinion that Americans want the best care for nothing. They want to go to the doctors they want and the hospitals they want, regardless of whether those things are most cost effective and provide the best care for any particular patient.

As the program noted, doctors use this emotional attachment patients have to doctors and facilities against insurance companies, forcing them to pay for unnecessary treatments and tests just to satisfy the customers. Regardless of what health care system we have, this will be a continuing problem because health care is treated in emotional terms (tear-jerk anecdotes), and it is difficult to break through that with practical and logical rhetoric.