Is America's health care system a success or not?


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Initial post: May 24, 2006 9:08:04 AM PDT
Arnold Kling says:
When I first started working on this book, I would have been inclined to say "yes." But the more research I read, the more I began to have doubts.

I now think that there is a genuine problem, but it's not the problem that most people talk about. The problem is that Americans make extravagant use of medical procedures with high costs and low benefits.

On May 23, at <a href = "http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=2945">this event</a>, Mike Tanner of Cato argued with me. He said that Americans' high spending on health care is just fine, health care is a perfectly decent thing to consume.

Fair enough, but as his book and mine both point out, 85 percent of our health care spending is paid for by third parties. If consumers were paying themselves for all these unnecessary MRI's, low-benefit cancer screenings, etc., that would be absolutely their decision. But that's not the reality.

Your views?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2006 6:40:47 PM PDT
T. M. Lutas says:
The third party you are talking about, after paying everything, still makes a handsome profit. So, the real rip-off is at the level of the employer and employee who pay the premium together. Consumers do pay for those tests also in an indirect way : lower salaries, more hours worked, faster lay-offs when the economy is bad... the money just shifts from one pocket to another. I think the same happens with the rest of the insurance industry : do we ever calculate how much money a family actually spends on the luxury of having different types of insurance (some of them mandatory) ?
I see the worst waste in terminally ill Medicare patients as well as in the Medicaid system. The lack of individual responsibility and the sense of entitlement of many of it's participants is difficult to imagine for someone outside the medical field. But no politician will ever have the courage to tell the truth and stop the waste.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 10, 2006 2:55:17 PM PDT
M. Sipos says:
I agree and the market is starting to reflect that. Employers cannot be burdened anymore and, so they are shifting to consumer directed plans. We have an alphabet soup of them...HSA, HRA, etc. But essentially they are high deductible plans so people are covered for the very expensive things but pay over 2,000 per person per year (more for a family) upfront. Physicals and other preventative medicine is covered first dollar and some help can be given for the upfront deductible by the employer contributing to the fund. Also, the employee gets to contribute to the fund with before tax dollars. So I think you are right and the market is starting to reflect that problem and move to solve it.....of course some don't like the idea of people taking over more control of their spending. Some think people need more direction on telling them what is good for them......
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Participants:  3
Total posts:  3
Initial post:  May 24, 2006
Latest post:  Jul 10, 2006

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Crisis of Abundance: Rethinking How We Pay for Health Care
Crisis of Abundance: Rethinking How We Pay for Health Care by Arnold S. Kling (Hardcover - April 26, 2006)
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