Re: GOVERNMENT AND HEALTH CARE
I believe that these government programs, for various reasons, provided incentive to stress the healthcare system and this is resulted in a good amount of the excessive increase in healthcare costs.
You believe a lot of goofy bullshit--so what?
The two most significant reason for the rise of health care costs since 1970 have been new technology and the conversion of health care delivery into an area of corporate investment.
New technologies, such as gas chromatography, dramatically increased the amount of diagnostic information a doctor could accumulate in a short period of time, and to the extent that a physician were sufficiently well-educated, either in medical school or from continuing education, created a potential for much more effective health care.
But such technologies don't come cheap, and this was especially so 40 years ago when they were developed and began to be put in use. Hospitals and clinics--which at that time were almost all locally-owned and the majority owned by physician associations--had to undertake significant capital expansion. This was more the case in that initially, such technologies were far more expensive in real dollars than they are today, when the proliferation of technology actually drives down the cost. New equipment was amortized over relatively brief periods of time--ten years was common--and the cost of the equipment was built into the costs of tests which doctors ordered.
But when a piece of amortized equipment was paid off, the cost of tests ordered was not reduced to reflect the fact that the tests were no longer so costly for the providing facility. Whether the costs of health care are paid by insurance corporations or the government, the standard method of determining and paying costs are fee schedules. So if the hospital or clinic's cost for a blood gases test had declined, they are still going to charge and be paid the original fee. When inflationary pressures lead to the need to re-negotiate fee schedules, the easiest thing to do is for the parties to negotiate an across-the-board increase. You can be that hospital or clinic administrators are not going to insurance corporations or government bureaucracies to say: "Hey, we paid off our eqipment, so we're going to reduce the costs of those tests by 30%." They surely don't say that to anyone unfortunate enough to be obliged to pay the cost of their medical treatment out of their own pockets.
The habit of increasing costs of health care delivery to the patient without a realistic relationship to the cost of health care delivery to providers was simply too tempting to health care industry administrators, since the bulk of their customers were the patients, but insurance corporations or the government.
Which lead to the other cause for the dramatic rise in health care costs in the United States, which the "corporatization" of health care delivery facilities--hospitals and clinics. It did not take those who look for lucrative investment opportunities long to spot the goose which was laying the golden eggs, and large capital base investors moved in quickly to snap up local hospitals and clinics to form larger and larger health care provider corporations. Insurers and the government don't care whose name is on the check they sign, and the fee schedules assured that even a poorly run facility was profitable, and profits could be increased by keep costs down--costs such as ancillary staff (the people who clean up after the "professionals" are often the first to go), with predictable results: too few nurses and nurses aides, longer wait times, critical neglect of patients, and the rise of hospital and clinic spawned new infectious agents such as c. difficile
When corporate boards make the ultimate decisions for health care provider facilities, their view is toward the bottom line--to make the most money for the shareholder. It is certainly not in their interests to lower cost merely because the levels of the fee schedules cannot be justified based on the cost of delivering service.
I'm sure conservatives don't like to hear it, and want to blame government. But the high cost of health care in the United States is most definitely a product of how the industry pays its bills and charges its customers, and the take over of health care systems in the United States by large corporations who have only their own bottom line in mind.