Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No Cost Control Yet 

We now seem to be at the point at which everyone agrees that something should be done about the cost of health care but few are ready to do it. 

I say few because the Massachusetts legislature has enacted a law that purports to deal with the issue.  But by my reading it is more appropriately classified as wishful thinking than as potent policy.  It says that the rate of cost increase should not exceed the rate at which the state’s economy grows, but is very vague about what happens if it does. 

I was reminded of all this by a Robert J. Samuelson Op-Ed column that appeared in the September 16 issue of the Omaha World Herald.  The headline over the column was “How to curb costs of care.”   I read it through to the end, but without finding the answer.   

The main subject of the column was the recently issued Institute of Medicine report which claimed that some 30%  of health care expenditures were wasted, identified a number of contributing factors, but, in Samuelson’s words, “lacks any strategy to promote change.” 

The problem, I suppose, is that despite all the criticisms, most people are happy with the health care they are receiving - particularly when employers or government are paying for it – and are therefore resistant to proposals for change. 

Consciousness of the problem is growing and a few remedial things are happening, but when it comes to meaningful reforms, we’re not there yet.



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