In the February 7th, 2008 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, page 549, a perspective written by Robert Kuttner should be mandatory reading for every politician, doctor, patient and anyone else who avails themselves or is involved in the United States health care system. In this brilliantly written article, Mr Kuttner, co-editor of the American Prospect, talks about the real reason our health care system is so ridiculously expensive.
He writes “The extreme failure of the United States to contain medical costs results primarily from our unique, pervasice commercialization. The dominance of for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical companies, a new wave of investor-owned specialty hospitals, and profit-maximizing behavior even by nonprofit players raise costs and distort resource allocation.” Basically these profit hungry organizations cost you the patient between a staggering 400-500 billion dollars annually.
His comments and insight into the reasons why market optimization and competition does not mean greater efficiency in delivering health care and does not lower cost as with other industries is a must read. Do whatever you have to, to get a hold of this article.
His last paragraph was so telling. “Sometimes, we Americans do the right thing only after having exhausted all other alternatives. It remains to be seen how much exhaustion the health care system will suffer before we turn to national health insurance.” I have always been against this idea until I read this article. Maybe it is time to stop the greed and redo our failing and overly expensive health care system.