Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Overusing Health Care

I’ve always been fascinated by the argument that our high health care costs are, in significant part, “due to overuse because costs are concealed from the consumer.” We only pay $20 for an office visit, it is claimed, so we go to the doctor more often. We don’t see the cost of that MRI, so we tell the doctor that we want an MRI and he says okay and orders one. It is argued that if consumers were paying out of their own pockets for all of these medical services, we would be using less of them, we would shop around for the most favorable pricing, and our health care costs would be lower.

Okay, then explain this. In France the consumer doesn’t pay anything. Not a penny, or whatever passes for a penny in France. France spends about one-third what we do on health care, and it gets better results in every category that can be measured.

So why aren’t the French overusing their free medical services?

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