Once Patients Pay, Health Costs Will Fall

Investor’s Business Daily

Health Care: The push to reform the system is going in exactly the wrong direction. Instead of minimizing patient involvement in payment for treatment, Washington should be seeking to increase patients’ role.

The cost of American medical care is so high that it’s thought by some to be a tragedy. About one-sixth of the economy is made up of health care expenditures. On average, each American runs up $7,290 a year in medical bills. Bringing down the costs — without sacrificing quality of care — is a reasonable objective.

But supporters of the health care legislation recently passed in Congress have lost sight of the spending problem — if they ever had any clear concept at all.

There are two reasons why per-person health care spending in the U.S. is far higher than even Switzerland at $4,417 a year, or Luxembourg at $4,162, which rank second and third in the world.

One, America has the best health care on the planet. The smartest doctors, the finest in diagnostic equipment, top-flight treatment and advanced drugs don’t come cheap.

Two, our system encourages overuse. And, as any ninth-grade economics student will confirm, an increase in demand forces prices higher…

…The accompanying chart shows why we have a health care cost problem. Patients have little direct connection in paying for their care. Their role has fallen significantly. Meanwhile, the government’s involvement has grown, as has that of the insurance industry…

The article, with graphic, continues at IBD.

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