MEDICAL COSTS: How High Is Too High?
According to an article in the April issue of Scientific American, the "major reason" American health care is "below the average of other major industrial countries" is because of "overinvestment in technology and personnel." To illustrate, author Rodger Doyle notes that Orange County, CA, "has more [magnetic resonance imaging] machines than all of Canada." In countries such as Britain, Canada and Japan, "central governments imposed strict fiscal controls even though they resulted in long waiting times for elective treatment and considerable delays in seeing specialists." Why hasn't America instituted a similar series of rationing? Doyle points to the lack of universal health care, which when instituted "helps to lessen friction between groups. ... Americans who receive adequate care through employers have little economic interest in seeing coverage extended" to the uninsured. Doyle quotes Stanford University's Victor Fuchs, who predicts that a major health care overhaul will "come only after a major political crisis as might accompany war, depression or widespread civil unrest ... there could be political upheaval of such magnitude that medical reform will seem to be the easy solution" (4/99 issue).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.