We’re #1!

We’re #1!

The Boston Globe headline is quite striking: State’s per-person health costs lead world, study says. US health care costs are higher than any country’s and MA’s costs are a third higher than the US as a whole. Wow.

And yet:

  • Doctors complain that they can’t make a living here due to low reimbursement levels and the high cost of housing
  • Community hospitals claim to be on the brink of bankruptcy
  • Three of the four major commercial health plans are in fairly marginal financial condition
  • We are above average in the use of health IT, which is supposed to reduce costs
  • We have a non-profit health care system (health plans and hospitals) that are supposed to have the good of the public in mind
  • Hospitals have charitable immunity, holding down the cost of malpractice payments
  • It’s damn hard to get an appointment with a doctor
  • Our population health statistics aren’t anything special

So what’s going on? I can’t say I have the answer, but it’s certain there is a whole lot of inefficiency in the system and some of the participants who aren’t complaining are doing pretty well. We shouldn’t be shy about considering radical approaches to straighten things out.

June 22, 2006

2 thoughts on “We’re #1!”

  1. Thanks for finding this, David.

    I was going to blog on this but couldn’t find a link.

    It explains a lot of what I complain about over at my blog.



  2. Oh, the answer?

    Overuse of medical services, especially by folks who don’t need them.

    A doc on NPR commenting on the article said more or less the same thing.



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