The problem with budget cutting strategies.
The usual fallback position for politicians, is to suggest the slashing of the health care budget. The argument is usually couched like this: If your family is having difficulty meeting its financial obligations, the logical course of action is to tighten the belt. Cut out the excess. So why not utilize this common-sense approach when it comes to our bloated national health care costs?
This approach doesn't work when it comes to health care costs because, on closer inspection, it becomes quite apparent that a personal household budget has almost nothing in common with America's health care cost dilemma. Other than there being too much money spent, there is nothing remotely similar between the two circumstances at all. The most significant difference is, the American healthcare system is a "for profit" industry. Every individual or entity that assists in facilitating the treatment of a patient, is in it for the money. Not that this is a bad thing, but imagine trying to manage your family budget if every family member was in it for their own gain? You would soon find yourself fighting with a budget that was constantly pushing against any reasonable cost constraints. The situation would not be all that dissimilar from our current health care crisis.
We all know, health care in America functions within the same traditional capitalistic model of other most other American industries: You pay a fee for services or goods. Unfortunately, fee-for-service encourages more fees and services. It encourages more tests, treatments and procedures, some of which are completely unnecessary. More health care does not mean better health care. Normally, within the capitalism model, runaway costs are checked by competition. However, when it comes to healthcare, while competition is encouraged, it is uniquely difficult to maintain.
For starts, patients are not inclined, nor are they in position to "shop around" in order to find the best price for the services they need. Because of this, the free market forces of competition that naturally counter inflating prices, are simply not there. Secondly, patients can hardly be expected to possess the extensive medical knowledge that would be required in order to "shop and compare" medical services effectively.
In the end, there is no real "go to" tool that one can apply to help keep medical costs reasonable. Consumers regularly pay astounding fees for services and drugs, without a reasonable explanation.
Lastly, when one attempts to "slash" the budget within our healthcare system, the segment of people that can least afford it, always get hurt the most. Time and time again, this approached has been called for and attempted, and the result is always the same. The most vulnerable members of our society - the poor, the elderly, the disabled, anyone who relies on the government for health care, will shoulder the brunt of the effect.
Coming soon: The U.S. Spends More on Health Care Than Any Other Country (Part 3).
Interesting Article: The U.S. Spends More on Health Care Than Any Other Country (Part 1).
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