Friday, October 09, 2009

More Incoherence on Health Care

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones yesterday, responding to the question, “Why do we spend so much more on health care than any other nation?”

We pay our doctors about 50% more than most comparable countries.
We pay more than twice as much for prescription drugs […]
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.

He's basically saying, "We pay more for health care because our health care costs more." Brilliant. He goes on, (emphasis mine)

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.

And how are we proposing to institute “health care reform” and restrain costs? By making insurance companies enroll more people, pay out more money, and somehow collect lower premiums.

Regulate greater payouts by insurance companies.
Hope for, but don't legislate lower insurance premiums.
Do nothing to change the way that doctors are paid.
Do nothing to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.
Do nothing to significantly reduce administration costs.
Suggest fewer diagnostic tests, but do not regulate it.
Do nothing to bring down the cost of diagnostic procedures.

Notice that was "restrain costs," not "reduce costs." We apparently do not consider an actual reduction of costs to be an achievable goal

Keith Olbermann rants about how evil health insurance companies are and then says that the solution is to, wait for it, make sure everyone has health insurance.

Lawrence O’Donnell says that it is “awful policy” to pass legislation that states can opt out of, despite his participation in passing Medicaid which, wait for it, states can opt out of.

Chris Matthews declaims the uselessness of health insurance, claims that the industry “contributes nothing to the distribution of health care,” and then rants about the millions who die yearly because, wait for it, they have no health insurance.

The longer we argue this issue, the more incoherent we become.

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