Controlling Health Care Costs

Just a “FYI” in case you are interested- there is a “Letter to the Editor” in the New York Times today that summarizes pretty well my thoughts about the necessary approach to fixing the U.S. health care mess.  As I have discussed ad nauseum in earlier entries we cannot control costs with out having some form of universal health coverage and we cannot have universal health coverage without controlling costs.   I would add to the comments of Arnold Relman and Marcia Angell, both former editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, that to control costs to the extent that we will be able to afford high quality universal health care coverage we must do much more than simply trim administrative and technology costs; we must completely revamp the way we pay for all aspects of health care.  For example, what kind of system do we have that pays a physician less than the office overhead for a patient visit yet pays $2000 for a wheelchair that sells for $200?

One More thing

As I read about and listen to radio and television news reports about the current debate on how to fix our health care mess, I am becoming increasingly concerned that the main focus of the debate seems to be whether to have a government run single payer system or a system built on private insurance (or a combination of the two).  It seems clear to me that the majority of people in the U.S. are leary of switching to a government run single payer health care system at this point and there is no need; as I have discussed in earlier entries, we should build on what we already have in place rather than debating topics about which we will never come to any consensus and which will keep us from moving forward.  We can control costs and achieve universal health care coverage but there will be considerable pain for many of those who have gotten fat at the health care feed trough.

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