October 8, 2009 Leave a comment
Can't have a day without any health care blogging. Kevin Drum nicely summarizes this report on health care costs in America:
Bob Somerby wants to know why the media isn't a wee bit more interested in why the United States pays far more per person for medical care than other rich countries. Here's the rough answer:
- We pay our doctors about 50% more than most comparable countries.
- We pay more than twice as much for prescription drugs, despite the fact that we use less of them than most other countries.
- Administration costs are about 7x what most countries pay.
- We perform about 50% more diagnostic procedures than other countries and we pay as much as 5x more per procedure.
This analysis full of awesome charts is so cool, but probably for true wonks only. Of course, the problem is that all these people making excess money like it that way, as Drum summarizes:
Underlying all this is the largely private, profit-driven nature of
American medicine, but regardless of how you feel about that, the main
lesson here is how hard it would be to seriously bring these costs
down. We can jabber all we want about incentives and greed and
systemic waste, but the bottom line is that if we want to do anything
more than nip around the edges, we'd have to pay doctors and nurses
less, pay pharmaceutical companies less, pay insurance companies less
(or get rid of them entirely), pay hospitals less, and pay device
makers less. That's a lot of very rich and powerful interests who will fight to the death to prevent any serious cost cutting, and
it's why Obama and the Democrats in Congress have largely chosen to buy
them off instead.
This is why we are having important improvements, but not all that much genuine reform. With real reform a lot more entrenched interests are going to feel pain, and you cannot get that without true bipartisanship, which the Republicans clearly have absolutely no interest in these days.