The Daily

The Cost of Care

Dartmouth study on reigning in healthcare costs

This chart on the left (in the article linked above) was originally created by the Kaiser Foundation and is now outdated (as shown in the chart on the right) – largely because the cost of drugs, medical devices and hospitalizations has skyrocketed. As a percentage, the amount we spend on primary care and wellness has shrunk.

The business of medicine, marketed directly to patients on television constantly, drives these costs according the research.

Insurance rates are driven by these costs. The researchers found that health insurance premiums are rising but that insurance carriers are paying over 80% of their revenue from premiums in claims – raising doubts about whether excessive insurance carrier margins, overhead or profit are really the culprit. The major driver of premium increases, according to this study, are the increased claims being paid for drugs and specialty healthcare products.

On this blog, we keep track of the sometimes mercenary business practices allowed to flourish in the U.S. drug and medical device industry (Epipen and Turing’s Daraprim are just two of the primary examples we have covered).

The price differentials between the same drugs in America as opposed to other (hybrid) markets are shocking. Rather than viewing the issue through political eyes, the researchers at Dartmouth recommend a more practical approach. If the trend lines continue, American consumers will soon be unable to access the drugs, devices and healthcare that they need. If only a small number of us can access the care we need, the ethics of the entire system are in question. An open mind about how to bring increasing costs under control is not only wise – it is essential.

At the same time, mortality and quality statistics for US healthcare are not better than other countries (as covered on this blog recently). In other words, we are paying much more for worse results. At the very least, in exchange for exhorbitant pricing, we should be holding providers of drugs, devices and healthcare services accountable for failing to meet the basic, minimum standards of care in the medical community. Too often, consumers get far less than the standard they are entitled to.

Please contact me if you have any questions or comments about a drug, device or any adverse event suffered during medical care or treatment.