Explaining the High Cost of US Health Care: No Skin in the Game, by Mike Mish Shedlock

Here’s a radical idea. Why not try the same system for health care and medical insurance that brings you a superabundance of reasonably priced groceries at any one of thousands of grocery and superstores: the free market. We’ve tried everything else and all we have is a gigantic mess. From Mike Mish Shedlock at moneymaven.io:

Costs are expensive because there is almost no skin in the game. Graft has taken over.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on healthcare: Why Americans Spend So Much on Health Care—In 12 Charts.

The U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any other developed nation. It will soon spend close to 20% of its GDP on health—significantly more than the percentage spent by major Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations.

What is driving costs so high? As this series of charts shows, Americans aren’t buying more health care overall than other countries. But what they are buying is increasingly expensive. Among the reasons is the troubling fact that few people in health care, from consumers to doctors to hospitals to insurers, know the true cost of what they are buying and selling.

Contributions to employer-sponsored health coverage aren’t taxed, which makes it less expensive for companies to pay workers with health benefits than wages. Generous benefits lead to higher spending, according to many economists, because employees can consume as much health care as they want without having to pay significantly more out of their own pockets.

The prices of many medicines are hidden because pharmacy-benefit managers—the companies that administer drug benefits for employers and health insurers—negotiate confidential discounts and rebates with drugmakers.

Price Growth Since 2000

Hospitals are becoming more consolidated and are using their market clout to negotiate higher prices from insurers.

Tax Benefits

Contributions to employer-sponsored health coverage aren’t taxed, which makes it less expensive for companies to pay workers with health benefits than wages. Generous benefits lead to higher spending, according to many economists, because employees can consume as much health care as they want without having to pay significantly more out of their own pockets.

The tax benefit is the country’s biggest single income-tax break, costing billions to government revenue.

To continue reading: Explaining the High Cost of US Health Care: No Skin in the Game

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