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07/26/2009

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So I just do not understand how is it possible that after all the additional costs spent on obesity treatments, breast and prostate cancer, etc. our life expectancy is much less than that of the Europeans.
The prevalence of disease is more in Europe than in the United States with a few exceptions. And yet Europeans spend less per capita on health care and live longer than we do.
Even though our health care system is private it appears to me that it's extremely inefficient. Insurance companies act as a middleman and are being paid a pretty good amount of money do to so.
Basically we pay them to make the system more efficient but that does not lower the cost. If they manage to lower the cost of health care, the additional funds are distributed as profits and high salaries to the CEO’s but that does not lower OUR costs.
Health care providers are faced with an inelastic demand for their services so that they can charge their patients as much as they can afford or as much as the insurance company would pay. There is a huge information asymmetry between physicians and patients. Patients do not care or know how many treatments they need to receive (the more the better) and how much it will cost as long as the insurance company would pay for it. Therefore physicians often charge for a lot of unnecessary procedures.
Finally, Medicare provides the services to our senior citizens that no private insurance company would ever want to provide. What would be the alternative if there is no Medicare? Old people would just die, that’s the alternative. The same way as, currently, uninsured people die because they cannot afford health insurance.
I am 100% sure that the health care system can improve and we all can benefit from it. It’s ignorant to think that we are not paying for the uninsured even right now. Hospitals pass indirectly their unpaid bills to the insurance companies or us. Wouldn’t it be better if we pay for the uninsured in a more systematic way? We can structure the health care system so that everyone can participate and pay for it.

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Last December, the McKinsey consulting firm published a report which states that despite the much higher per capita spending on health care in the U.S. compared with peer countries, the longevity of Americans (even if only that of white Americans is considered) is lower than the average of the comparison countries. This is true, according to McKinsey, even though the prevalence of disease is less in the United States than in those countries (with the principal exception of diabetes, a consequence of Americans' obesity). Because Americans smoke less than the people in those countries, smoking-related diseases are actually lower in...

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