Strong opinions, weakly held

Health care costs in the United States

Here’s the bottom line:

If you leave everything else the same — the volume of procedures, the days we spend in the hospital, the number of surgeries we need — but plug in the prices Canadians pay, our health-care spending falls by about 50 percent.


  1. I’m beginning to think that this health insurance “reform” is really nothing more than a power grab by the Democrats. If it were about health care reform, there would be discussions going on about how to address the cost of health care at a fundamental level as your linked post discusses.

    If health care is expensive, insurance (whether private or public option) will be equally as expensive. Trying to get insurance companies to bully health care providers into reducing costs is going to fail spectacularly. If that’s what democrats think will happen, they certainly aren’t advertising how the “cost curve” will bend other than by magic?

  2. The truth is that the more liberal Democrats want to create a public option that reimburses at Medicare rates (or Medicare rates plus 5 percent) but the “moderates” won’t go along with it. So we’re stuck with reform that will not address the cost issues at their source. The reform will still greatly expand access to health care, which I’d be happy about, but the same people who profess to be most concerned about controlling costs are also adamantly opposed to any measure which will effectively bend the cost curve. This is a huge problem.

    The bottom line is that strong steps toward controlling costs will piss off doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and so on. It’s hard enough to pass reform over the protests of insurance companies, if you add all of those other groups to the “against” column would scuttle the possibility of reform entirely.

    If anything, what the reform process has really shown is that meaningful change is nearly impossible to achieve with the system of government we have. Conservatives should probably take some comfort in that.

  3. Beyond health care reform, someone needs to speak plainly about the perverse incentives in the US food industry (diabetes, cardiovascular issues) and plain inefficiencies in insurance administration.

  4. I would encourage you to look up ‘DRG’ in wikipedia if you are concerned that universal insurance coverage is unrelated to managing costs.

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