Factors Contributing to Increasing Health Care Costs Examined
The San Jose Mercury News on Sunday examined factors contributing to rising health care costs. The factors include:
- Hospitals and clinics investing billions of dollars in new technology;
- More television, magazine and newspaper ads for medications leading to increased doctor visits; and
- Physicians' increased ability to diagnose asthma, cancer, heart disease and other conditions.
In addition, some experts attribute part of the cost increases to "America's insatiable demand for the latest and best drug treatments" and say that prescribing additional tests and medications can increase physicians' profits and provide some protection against malpractice suits.
However, the Mercury News reports that most health care spending "isn't discretionary," noting that 10% of patients account for roughly two-thirds of the nation's health care expenses (Schwanhausser, San Jose Mercury News, 10/2).
"Americans have a love-hate relationship with health care spending," Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub writes, adding, "We love spending more on health care, as long as we feel as if someone else is paying the bill." Weintraub writes that health care is "singled out as an industry we do not want to see grow," noting that "one reason is that our health care purchases ... do not feel voluntary" (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 10/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.