Health Care Cost’s Moderating? Good News?

The U.S. leads the world in health care spending per-capita.  We spend over 2.5 trillion dollars a year (over 8,000/person) on medical expenses but still have 50 million people lacking health insurance and assured access to care—I don’t count “free” ER access as assured care.  This is one and a half to two times the expenditures of other industrialized countries.

We’ve an approach to health care that’s become unaffordable to most people.  Our country leads the world in bankruptcy due to medical expenses.  To tell the truth such a category is unheard of in other industrialized countries. 

One can cautiously take the recent news that health expenses are “only” increasing at the rate of inflation as progress in gaining control over these expenditures:

Still, the increases for 2010 and 2009 were the lowest measured in 51 years. And health care as a share of the economy leveled off at 17.9 percent, the first time in a decade there’s been no growth.

But:

The main reason for the slowdown was that Americans were more frugal in their use of health care, from postponing elective surgery to using generic drugs and thinking twice about that late-night visit to the emergency room.

Medicynical Note:  After increasing at multiples of inflation for years, health care spending seems to have finally become unaffordable, thanks to increasing  deductibles, co-pays, inadequate coverage  and lack of coverage for over 50 million citizens. 

In these hard economic times we’ve proven that rationing by ability to pay works.  It’s however a blunt instrument.  People lacking resources cut back on care, whether it’s really needed or not.  We may lose a few but then we’re saving money.

Progress?  No.  Rational?  No.

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