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Posted by on Oct 20, 2009 in Health | 28 comments

This American Life Explains Part Of The Health Care Crisis

Is it due to doctors, patients, lawyers or insurance companies? This American Life says, “Yes.”

In an absolutely wonderful episode, they really highlight some key causes of the health care crisis and shatter some misconceptions. They even changed my mind about a few things.

For example, it’s commonly claimed that we have a supply problem, and if only there were medical professionals then that would drive down costs. They point out that historically this has proven incorrect: increasing the number of medical professionals quickened the rise of health care costs, and they explain why. I have always thought that the calls for tort reform were mostly a red herring, as the amounts involved in lawsuits make up a trivial amount of total health care costs. They definitely hammer home that this isn’t entirely accurate, because it completely changes doctor behavior and leads to an excess of diagnoses and provided care.

Plus it doesn’t help that patients demand to have everything, then complain when it costs too much. Or that perception is often more important than results for both doctors and patients.

I strongly encourage everyone to listen to the episode as it really takes a step back and looks at some of the institutional factors that must be addressed if we are ever going to address the problem.