Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Health Cost Myth
Wall Street Journal ^ | 13 November 2007 | JOHN R. GRAHAM

Posted on 11/13/2007 7:42:13 AM PST by shrinkermd

...Several American business leaders have come to believe that the American health-care system is not only bad for our health but also for national competitiveness. In the automotive industry, General Motors claims that it spends about $1,600 per car on health care. In Japan, according to GM, Toyota's per automobile healthcare expenditure is just $110.

Health coverage is indeed becoming more expensive for businesses. Over the past eight years, the percentage of firms offering health benefits to employees has dropped significantly, to 60% from 69%.

This decline, however, is almost completely accounted for by businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

These firms find health benefits unaffordable because states have laid a massive burden of over-regulation on small-group health insurance since the early 1990s, making it increasingly expensive

Consider four countries whose health-care systems are often held up as admirable alternatives: Canada, Germany, France and Great Britain. Certainly, the U.S. spends significantly more on health care than those countries do, but these nations also earn significantly less income per person.

Look at it this way: Even after paying for our health care, Americans have far more money left over than their neighbors to spend on other goods and services. It works out to about $8,000 more than the average German or Frenchman, and about $4,000 more than the average Canadian or Briton

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; Unclassified
KEYWORDS: costs; healthcare; myths
He concludes thusly: To improve the state of American health care and lighten the burden on business and workers, policy leaders should push for portability of health benefits, transparent pricing for health services, tort reform and more competition among both insurers and providers.


1 posted on 11/13/2007 7:42:13 AM PST by shrinkermd
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: shrinkermd
This is the same argument that we heard from the same sources when our gasoline was $1 a gallon and Europes was $4: See how much more others have to pay?

I didn't buy it then, I don't buy it now.

Perhaps a real dicussion of why our health care is now a national crisis, compared to the 50's and 60s, when families very comfortably dealt with it on their own would be instructive. Government had virtually no role in it then.

What changed?

2 posted on 11/13/2007 7:47:13 AM PST by Publius6961 (MSM: Israelis are killed by rockets; Lebanese are killed by Israelis.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: shrinkermd

If we could bring stability to health care/insurance, I firmly believe we would have an explosive growth of entrepreneurship.


3 posted on 11/13/2007 7:48:55 AM PST by DonaldC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: shrinkermd
All those suggestions are good ideas and will help.

But with an aging society which believes that unlimited access to health care technology is an entitlement, it's fantasy to think that health care costs will ever decrease without some form of governmental or market-driven rationing.

4 posted on 11/13/2007 7:50:17 AM PST by Notary Sojac (Bring Back Paul Volcker!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Publius6961
In the 50's when you got breast cancer, or juvenile diabetes, or were born at 45 weeks into your mom's pregnancy, you died.

That has a way of holding health care costs down.

5 posted on 11/13/2007 7:52:39 AM PST by Notary Sojac (Bring Back Paul Volcker!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Publius6961
A lot of it is more treatment. The old prescription for cancer was "make sure your will is up to date". Now it is thousands of dollars of radiation and chemotherapy. Personally, I don't want to go back to the bad old days.
6 posted on 11/13/2007 7:52:50 AM PST by KarlInOhio (May the heirs of Charles Martel and Jan Sobieski rise up again to defend Europe.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Notary Sojac
were born at 45 weeks into your mom's pregnancy, you died.

At 45 weeks most women would be doing a Ceasarian on themselves with a kitchen knife.

7 posted on 11/13/2007 7:54:51 AM PST by KarlInOhio (May the heirs of Charles Martel and Jan Sobieski rise up again to defend Europe.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: KarlInOhio

Oops, chalk that up to typing while coffee deprived, meant 25 weeks of course.


8 posted on 11/13/2007 7:58:31 AM PST by Notary Sojac (Bring Back Paul Volcker!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Notary Sojac

Man, you need some COFFEE!!! Quick!

45 weeks. ugh!


9 posted on 11/13/2007 8:10:20 AM PST by Shimmer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Publius6961
Perhaps a real dicussion of why our health care is now a national crisis, compared to the 50's and 60s, when families very comfortably dealt with it on their own would be instructive. Government had virtually no role in it then.

The 50's -- 60's didn't have 'health care' it was hospitalization. Office calls, dental insurance and few mental health treatments were paid for by insurance. Preventive medicine was not an issue--people went to the Dr when they were really sick. Hospitals did not want/need expensive equipment that they ALL believe they need today. Medical procedures of the expensive nature today were not readily available nor were they ordered solely to save Dr's from liability.

Liability insurance for Dr's has caused great problems and much added expense but I for one am sick of signing my name to every damn procedure and completing the same forms over and over again solely for liability protection. I just refused to again fill out my medical history for a dentist. I offered instead to sign and date stating no changes on the form to give him is safety net. That was not good enough--he did not want to treat me. I said fine. He provides a service, I pay the bill and I was no longer going to disclose my medical history to a dentist and left his office.

In the day and age of computers and because of HIPPA I do not see the necessity of having to complete forms over and over again especially when you are going to the same facility as you have for years. All this information is already on a computer somewhere and accessible by any clerk in any Dr.'s office. My Dr. does not require this.

Not sure what a dentist has computer access to regarding medical information but I think aside from knowledge of any heart problems I see no reason a dentist needs general medical information.

10 posted on 11/13/2007 8:12:45 AM PST by Snoopers-868th
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: shrinkermd
• We have an aging population.
• We have the highest expectations in care.
• There are frivolous law suits intended to go after those with the deepest pockets – pharmaceutical producers, hospitals, doctors.
• Our country is flooded with illegals that comprise nationally 1/3 of those so called “un-insured.”

Socialized health care does not fix any of the real underlying issues behind what is driving health care costs. Many of those who are screaming at the top of their lungs that some government managed health care is the solution are also the ones intentionally hesitating and foot dragging when it comes to issues such as the enforcement of our boarders and deportation of illegals. In fact, much of the laws of recent years claimed to be for the children or to regulate care and costs have inadvertently caused the opposite to occur. Like the classical textbook example of “price fixing” in the housing market and the eventual loss of investment, acceleration of urban decay, and eventual shortages of housing, the laws and programs intended to do good have hurt the insured and the health care providers. The bureaucratic mess most physicians have to deal with today is near astonishing, and it is near entirely a product of our great government and all their efforts to help.

The only thing the federal government should do at this point is clamp down on illegal immigration and push to regulate the legal framework that allows many of these bogus law suits. The federal government can’t fix a population that is getting older. The fact that expectations are high and we want the newest technology, procedures, and medications administered to us in modern state of the art hospitals that are service oriented is nothing to be ashamed of, but it will cost us a lot no matter what since there is a correlation between cost and performance in this case. If you want cheap managed health care, expect older MRI machines, older procedures, older less capable and greater side effect drugs, older decrepit facilities etc.

Ronald Reagan once told us the eight worlds you should be afraid of: “We’re from the Government, we’re here to help.”

11 posted on 11/13/2007 8:17:40 AM PST by Red6 (Come and take it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: shrinkermd
Three biggest problems with "cost of healthcare"

1. Government Meddling
2. Plaintiff Attorneys
3. Illegal Aliens

12 posted on 11/13/2007 8:19:25 AM PST by montag813
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Notary Sojac

What branch of the culture of death do you belong to? What you are saying is that the lives of older people are worth less than younger people.Do you feel the same about those with low I.Q.s or those who are disabled?
Do you advocate the rationing of food, gasoline, clothing, housing or education? I imagine not because market forces control those items just as market forces control health care.


13 posted on 11/13/2007 8:20:18 AM PST by em2vn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: montag813

Three biggest problems with “cost of healthcare”
1. Government Meddling
2. Plaintiff Attorneys
3. Illegal Aliens
_______________________________

#2 I’m sorry I made a mistake would have gone a long way to eliminating lawsuits or adjusting costs due to their errors. We did not used to be a society of litigation. We became so because of past medical professionals (and some even today) put themselves at the God level. Litigation became prevelant I believe because of the lies, corruption and cover-ups. I don’t see a way back to honesty and I can’t believe most people want to go back to the philosophy that Dr’s are God and give up their right for redress.


14 posted on 11/13/2007 8:26:42 AM PST by Snoopers-868th
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Publius6961
See how much more others have to pay?

Crafty accounting and good ole boy follow the $$$ between legislators/lawyers policies are a big problem IMO... My wife's employer, [state] claims to pay $460/month for her single 'basic' health policy. In a group pool that I would estimate in the 10s of thousands of employees, how is it that we could by the same coverage independently through Humana for half to a third of the cost, unless theres some real theft/corruption ???

Mind you, she isnt allowed to take the dollars and shop for herself,only accept their group policy or forfeit the 'income'. Competition could do wonders...

15 posted on 11/13/2007 8:32:35 AM PST by Gilbo_3 (A few Rams must look after the sheep 'til the Good Shepherd returns...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Publius6961
What changed?

One thing that changed is the medical technology we have available.

In the 1950s and 60s, if you had a heart attack, you had a heart attack, and not too much could be done for you. Today advanced preventive and diagnostic tools--from color dopplers to cardiac catheterizations--are used routinely to save lives. Back then, if you racked up your knee they'd take an x-ray, but there wasn't a lot they could really do for you. Today MRIs, PET scans, and CT scans that did not exist back then tell your orthopedist exactly what went wrong inside you, and new laparoscopic surgeries will fix the problem. The technology available for fighting cancer is astonishing.

But somebody has to pay for this. Buying this machinery and paying for the personnel to run it is extremely expensive. Doing the basic-science research even to visualize such machinery before inventing it and developing it is enormously costly. Eventually it is the end user, the consumer of medical technology, who pays for it.

16 posted on 11/13/2007 8:47:56 AM PST by Fairview ( Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: em2vn
I don't advocate government rationing of any of the goods you mentioned.

But I do think that all health care providers should be allowed to discriminate based on ability to pay, just as gas stations and clothing stores do.

17 posted on 11/13/2007 9:02:36 AM PST by Notary Sojac (Bring Back Paul Volcker!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Fairview
And every new technology inexorably moves toward mass adoption.

MRI's were originally touted as a huge cost and safety improvement because they could replace many exploratory surgeries.

Well, that worked for a while, but the cost savings disappeared as soon as MRI's began to replace X-rays for routine injury cases.

18 posted on 11/13/2007 9:06:25 AM PST by Notary Sojac (Bring Back Paul Volcker!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: KarlInOhio

45 weeks... sounds like my last pregnancy. I didn’t think she was ever going to be born.


19 posted on 11/13/2007 9:08:50 AM PST by Pining_4_TX
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Notary Sojac

Very true. Thank you for pointing that out. Every illegal who comes into an ER with a stomach ache gets an abdominal CT ($2000 + pro fee) on your dime, where once he would have had a stomach xr and some Pepto and sent on his way.


20 posted on 11/13/2007 9:10:53 AM PST by Fairview ( Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Gilbo_3
Two things that could cause the cost variation:

(1) Your wife is in extraordinary good health. Her individual policy does not have to build in coverage for hundreds of other group members with costly maintenance-intensive diseases.

(2) Her individual policy does not cover all the hundreds of ancillary therapies and treatments that the group policy has to cover, as a result of political pressures from all the acupuncturists, aromatherapists, Wiccan herb healers, etc.

I'd think that (1) is a possibililty and (2) almost a sure bet.

21 posted on 11/13/2007 9:11:19 AM PST by Notary Sojac (Bring Back Paul Volcker!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Pining_4_TX
Damn, I am never gonna get over this posting mistake.

Think twice, type once......

22 posted on 11/13/2007 9:12:22 AM PST by Notary Sojac (Bring Back Paul Volcker!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: Fairview

Your point about the illegals is true, but the “legals” (Medicare, Medicaid and your insurance plan) run up the costs just as well.


23 posted on 11/13/2007 9:13:39 AM PST by Notary Sojac (Bring Back Paul Volcker!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Notary Sojac
. . .the “legals” (Medicare, Medicaid and your insurance plan) run up the costs just as well.

You're also right about that! But do bear in mind that many Medicaid recipients are illegals, too.

24 posted on 11/13/2007 9:21:37 AM PST by Fairview ( Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Fairview
I don't disagree. I do think that it's misleading to imply that health care costs would be under control if it were not for illegals (or "administrative waste" or "defensive medicine").

The fact that we demand unlimited care, and the best care, for our parents and grandparents (and our kids too) is the primary driver. Is it wrong to demand that care? No, not if we are willing to foot the bill.

25 posted on 11/13/2007 9:28:52 AM PST by Notary Sojac (Bring Back Paul Volcker!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Notary Sojac

I agree. Are illegal immigrants, frivalous lawsuits, etc. problems? Of course. Are they the major culprit? No, I don’t think so. I think it is increased technology and expectations. For an illustration, sit down and visit with an older person and compare/contrast how medical problems were dealt with early in his/her life versus now. I think there has to be “rationing” to a certain extent. The question is - do you want the government to do it? Or would you rather do it yourself? I would much prefer the latter. If anyone believes that we can have a univeral health care system that can provide the best to everyone at all times, he/she is an idiot. We don’t have unlimited resources.


26 posted on 11/13/2007 9:38:15 AM PST by drjulie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Notary Sojac

I quite agree with you that the cause of healthcare expenditure problems does not lie only with illegals. Healthcare costs are a bottomless pit, and as long as everyone demands the latest and the greatest technology and gets someone else to pay for it, costs will continue to skyrocket. I do not see an equitable solution.


27 posted on 11/13/2007 9:43:10 AM PST by Fairview ( Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: long hard slogger; FormerACLUmember; Harrius Magnus; Lynne; hocndoc; parousia; Hydroshock; ...
Socialized Medicine aka Universal Health Care PING LIST

FReepmail me if you want to be added to or removed from this ping list.
28 posted on 11/13/2007 10:26:55 AM PST by socialismisinsidious ( The socialist income tax system turns US citizens into beggars or quitters!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: KarlInOhio

LOL!


29 posted on 11/13/2007 10:29:11 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: drjulie
We don’t have unlimited resources.

Working people especially don't have unlimited time to spend competing with non-working people in waiting rooms. By making health care free and equal to all the people without jobs will consume most of the resources. Those with the most rationing line stamina will get exceptional care. Those charged with paying for this system can't make the time investment to get any care until the pain is unbearable.

30 posted on 11/13/2007 10:42:53 AM PST by Reeses (Leftism is powered by the evil force of envy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Snoopers-868th
So, if doctors in the past had just apologized for mistakes (real or imagined) then we wouldn't be in this litigation mess?

Huge jury awards have nothing to do with it?
Stupid jurors and judges have nothing to do with it?
Greedy lawyers have nothing to do with it?
A population that believes that lawsuit = lottery has nothing to do with it?
A society that no longer believes in personal responsibility has nothing to do with it?

If what you wrote was true then other areas of society (restaurants, small business, corporations, snowy sidewalks country wide) would not be in the same litigation quagmire (and stupid warning labels would not be around to amuse us).
31 posted on 11/13/2007 10:54:12 AM PST by socialismisinsidious ( The socialist income tax system turns US citizens into beggars or quitters!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: socialismisinsidious

And you are so right—honesty, morals, integrity and scruples is what it is all about not to mention loyalty but it has to work both ways.

Lawyers have a job to do, I have never blamed them, it is the jury that awards stupidity. Again, morals, etc. . . Some in the medical profession deserve all the litigation they can get but when you had a thoughtful Dr patient relationship it used to be far different. There are always those who think they can make a buck off someone else but again it is juries who I blame and what will change that?


32 posted on 11/13/2007 11:14:20 AM PST by Snoopers-868th
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: shrinkermd

“He concludes thusly: To improve the state of American health care and lighten the burden on business and workers, policy leaders should push for portability of health benefits, transparent pricing for health services, tort reform and more competition among both insurers and providers.”

Right!


33 posted on 11/13/2007 11:21:09 AM PST by Rick_Michael (The Anti-Federalists failed....so will the Anti-Frederalists)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Notary Sojac

The medical industry has learned it is better and more profitable to TREAT an illness than to cure it. So they don’t let anyone including 90 year old bed ridden people die without an expensive fight. On top of that every surgery suite has items that would be used in heart surgery even if most of the procedures done are simple like an appendectomy or any nubmer of similar surgical events. Money grows when you have a well stocked ER and Surgery.


34 posted on 11/13/2007 1:32:23 PM PST by q_an_a
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Fairview

This is true, but look at what happens when very technologically advanced procedures are left totally to the free market, i.e. lasik eye surgery. I’m sure that equipment is very costly, and those who had the procedure done early on paid dearly for it. But now in some cases, it’s a litte more than paying for a few pair of glasses.


35 posted on 11/13/2007 5:18:47 PM PST by Mygirlsmom (Bill and Hill are perfectly clear on the meaning of "is" as long as it's used in the word SOCIALIST)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Mygirlsmom

You are illustrating my point. We must let the free market reign; regulation and control keep prices high.

(And where do you live that Lasik only costs what a few pair of glasses cost? I’ve been pricing it locally here in Washington DC and it’s $5000 =/- a few hundred.)


36 posted on 11/13/2007 5:27:24 PM PST by Fairview ( Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: Fairview

There’s an outfit here (Milwaukee area) that advertises $299 per eye. I’m sure there are other costs involved, but it’s come way down.


37 posted on 11/13/2007 5:53:56 PM PST by Mygirlsmom (Bill and Hill are perfectly clear on the meaning of "is" as long as it's used in the word SOCIALIST)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: DonaldC

National Health Care like all other Socialist ideas is really “equal poverty for all”!


38 posted on 11/13/2007 6:15:43 PM PST by BillT
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Notary Sojac

or 3. they play lip service to the cost and suck the $$$ from the general fund to line pockets...


39 posted on 11/13/2007 8:54:31 PM PST by Gilbo_3 (A few Rams must look after the sheep 'til the Good Shepherd returns...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: shrinkermd
These articles are just so slick, the way they highlight the high cost of health care, then shift the focus to "health coverage" as being the "benefit", at just the right time, as if they don't want the poor ignorant slob reading it to ever see the distinction.

"Health care" is the actual benefit. Regardless who pays the bill, "health care" is the doctor, nurse, bandaid, or medicine; whatever is required to actually treat an illness or injury.

"Health coverage" is a quasi-tax, hypothetically intended to spread the risk and cost among enough people to reduce the immediate cost to an injured or sick person. In reality, "health coverage", its monumental bureaucracies, and its battalions of lobbyists, lawyers, MBAs, and overpaid bimbos, is the culprit in the so-called high costs of "health care". Insurance companies don't treat illnesses or injuries. They collect money, and their profit is derived by how much of that money they can avoid paying out in claims. In the process, many tons of money intended for "health care" gets sucked off into one of the most corrupt forms of business in the world.

Rarely does an insurance company go belly-up. Many doctors do. So do clinics and hospitals.

Even if you fund most of your own "coverage" with an HSA, you can only do that if you let one of the anointed insurance companies sit on your HSA funds and earn the interest generated by it.

If Americans want something constructive done about their health care costs, they need to focus on the black hole of insurance, where money goes in and most of it doesn't come back out where it is intended.

40 posted on 11/13/2007 9:59:24 PM PST by meadsjn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: shrinkermd

And before the stockholders show up to defend their cash cows — one competent bimbo with a modern PC and average spreadsheet skills could handle the accounting for a very large insurance co-op for several thousand customers, what currently takes most insurance companies several thousand employees to do now.


41 posted on 11/13/2007 10:11:24 PM PST by meadsjn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson