Exploding Myths About The Costs of Healthcare
by Scott Shields, Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 08:53:15 PM EST
I caught this the other day from Ezra Klein at TPM Cafe and thought it was worth discussing here. You know all of those stories Republicans tell us about why American healthcare is so expensive? You know, malpractice awards are too high, that we don't ration our healthcare, that our healthcare infrastructure is just better, etc, etc. Well, according to an extensive study published last year in the journal Health Affairs, those stories are (surprise, surprise) not true.
Average malpractice awards domestically are lower than in Canada, the UK, or Australia (has it occurred to anyone else that if there is indeed an epidemic of defensive medicine -- which I don't believe, but nevertheless -- that the fault probably lies on conservative- created hysteria about malpractice awards and American litigiousness?), and the whole malpractice "industry" amounts to less than one half of one percent of spending (for a very comprehensive takedown of all aspects of the medical malpractice myth, go here). That's just not the stuff our health spending is made of.
As for supply constraints, the researchers checked out the 15 procedures that account for the bulk of wait times in foreign lands. They make up 3 percent of our total spending. In addition, health spending in the twelve countries with waiting lists was $2,366 per capita. In the seven without, it was $2,696 per capita. In America, it was $5,267 per capita. So sorry, no answers there, either.
And to burst another bubble, we don't get more resources than folks in other countries. Indeed, our per capita hospital beds, CT scanners, physicians and nurses were lower than the OECD average. Ouch.
Long story short, not one of the "market based" ideas Republicans have been peddling for so long now are actually meant to do anything to lower the cost of healthcare in America. They'll just line the pockets of the wealthy at the expense of those who can least afford it.