An interesting article in Slate points out what may be the biggest culprit in exorbitant healthcare costs. It’s the hospitals themselves:
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When you survey the health systems of other rich countries, you’ll find some that rely a bit more on private insurance markets than ours (like Switzerland) and others that rely a bit more on centralized bureaucracies (like Britain), but what you won’t find is a country where hospitals dare to charge such obscenely high prices. Avik Roy, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a conservative health reform guru, has observed that although the average hospital stay in the world’s rich countries is $6,222, it costs $18,142 in the U.S. Guess what? Spending three times as much doesn’t appear to yield three times the benefit.
These are prices regardless of government subsidy. If ever there were a proof that half-capitalism is tangibly worse than either full socialism or full capitalism, here it is.
What do I mean by half-capitalism? I mean that hospitals and insurers are largely free to set their own prices, but subsidies from the civil government, and the mandatory nature of hospital care, basically alows them to set their prices as high as they want without much recourse from the consumer.
As the Slate article points out, most people don’t have much of a choice when it comes to hospital care. It isn’t as if most smaller communities have a plethora of hospitals to choose from.
It’s yet another reason that the nature of healthcare probably needs to change fundamentally. Much of the extremely expensive medical regimens could be replaced with cheaper alternative options or changes in diet and exercise. The only thing hospitals are really good for is surgery. And surgery is necessary far less often than the hospitals recommend it. Most of the time, healthy living is only more expensive in the short term.
The only real solution here is for individual citizens to refuse to allow other people to pay for their healthcare. To take charge of their own lives. Will that happen on a wide scale? Probably not anytime soon. And as long as there is a huge willing population of parasites, hospitals will continue to force taxpayers to pick up their bloated tab.
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