Why is American Health Care So Expensive?


In the May 5, 2013, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat “What Health Insurance Doesn’t Do”, discusses a recent Oregon Medicaid experiment which shows that the Medicaid program improves health outcomes only slightly even though it does help people avoid huge medical bills.  As Mr. Douthat goes on to explain, the Oregon result offers a valuable suggestion for how to make American health care overall much more efficient and less costly.
The problem is that our health insurance system does not function like any other type of insurance.  All other types of insurance such as for house or car protect only against actual disasters like a house burning down and not routine maintenance repairs which affect all of us on a regular basis.  In other words, health insurance could and should be restricted to very expensive treatments such as for cancer, for example.  Routine health problems, which affect everyone over a lifetime, even including end of life care, can and should be paid for with mechanisms such as health savings accounts, which can be rolled over from one year to the next.
A more elaborate discussion of the inefficiency of American health insurance, and how to fix it, is provided by David Goldhill in the NYT on February 17, 2013 “The Health Benefits that Cut Your Pay”, and also in his new book on health care referenced therein.
Clearly the cost of health care is a huge fiscal and economic issue for our country.  Health care entitlements, such as Medicare and Medicaid, are the main drivers of the national debt.  The rapidly growing cost of Medicaid is also a huge problem at the state level because it is crowding out support for other essential major programs such as education and infrastructure improvements.  The cost of private health care paid by employers holds back wage gains and is a major factor in the growing income inequality in American society.
It is time for Americans to demand action on health care costs from our national political leaders.  It is a problem which affects almost all of us and therefore should be amenable to a bipartisan solution in Congress.  We need to get this message out much more strongly!

5 thoughts on “Why is American Health Care So Expensive?

  1. It is so expensive it is forcing, encouraging and challenging me to think healthy, eat heathy and do healthy things with health -minded folks. We have to change the way we look at ourselves as the “temple” we are. We have to recall the quote by Hippocrates…”Doctors of the future will be more concerned with preventing than curing” and also demand preventive maintence solutions from them like watching our diet, exercise, walking, reading, GMO labeling,buying local and organic …..Correct me if wrong on that quote. By the way, I am beginning to really enjoy time in my own kitchen…….
    We have to remember also that “We ARE,what we are becoming” and assume responsibility for our own health as we have gotten way to concerned with our Rights vs. our RESPONSIBILITY to ourselves, family, community, church and society!

  2. The only way we will ever get the costs under control is to shift responsibility for our own health care from “free” (i.e. paid for by employers or by government) insurance back to ourselves. If we can get this switchover accomplished, then all of us will have a bigger incentive to stay as healthy as possible. Far more people will become healthy eaters like you. The benefits to society will be huge.

  3. Unfortunately, most insurance companies will not provide
    you with a list of what discounts are offered, so you will have to talk to an insurance agent in order to find out what is
    currently being offered. Ins – Web – Evaluate free insurance quotes from top companies and find affordable rates
    on auto, motorcycle, and RV insurance. Many people will point to the
    need to have two or three of these areas included
    when securing online quotes, but with an accident possible at any time, the decision of which ones to leave
    out may prove costly.

  4. We shouldn’t expect insurance companies to provide us with the costs of healthcare from different providers. This is our own responsibility to find out. This is why we need to change the whole concept of how health insurance is set up. See my June 5 entry, “Free Market Healthcare in America” for details of what is needed.

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