Saturday, March 30, 2013

U.S. Hospital Charges Are Out of Control

Ewe Reinhardt is a very good health economist. In a recent Economix post he notes:
it is higher health spending coupled with lower – not higher — use of health services that adds up to much higher prices in the United States than in any other member nation of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Aside from a few high-tech services, Americans actually use less health care and rely on fewer real health-care resources than do residents of other industrialized countries.
He goes on to state:

My explanation for the relative high prices Americans pay for health care relative to other countries is that the payment side of the health care market in the private sector is fragmented, weakening the bargaining power of individual insurers, especially vis-à-vis the increasingly consolidated hospital sector, although other factors, including malpractice premiums, play a part as well. 
To endow the payment side of health care with more market muscle, I have proposed an all-payer system based on the models used in Germany or Switzerland or in the state of Maryland. In these systems, government does not dictate prices. Instead, health care prices are negotiated at what Europeans call a “quasi market” level.
Fortunately, I live in Maryland and I belong to an HMO, blessed by good health insurance. I suggest that the rest of the nation follow by improving the negotiations for prices and participation in health maintenance organizations.

No comments: