Why Are Health Care Costs So High?

In another of this interesting series of articles from USA Today on the sick state of America's hobbled health care system, a new poll has identified growing concerns about the soaring costs of medicine and how it happened as well as the quality of care across the nation. And, no surprise, even though Americans want major health care reform, they won't give anything up to achieve it.

Of particular interest is a section of the poll dealing with the speedy rise in health care costs and the disconnect patients have about the real reasons behind it. Half of the consumers polled, rightly, blamed profiteering from drug companies as well as insurance companies. More than a third believed too many malpractice lawsuits, along with greedy doctors and hospitals, were responsible for sky high health costs.

Although experts believe all those aforementioned variables certainly contribute to higher health costs, they claim the real answers -- chosen by less than half of the patients polled -- has more to do with an increasing demand among patients for new drugs, technology and treatments in addition to fraud and overuse.

Fact is, according to one expert, health care costs won't slow down without consumers making "trade-offs," a big problem considering few patients feel they are responsible for this dramatic lift.

The first and most important way to come to grips with this crisis that has emptied bank accounts and done nothing to protect and improve the overall health of Americans: Taking responsibility for your own health through simpler, gentler, but no less effective, solutions.

USA Today October 16, 2006