I read this piece by John Stossel from the New York Sun in the 9/29/08 issue of Forbes Magazine.
“Imagine if your car insurance covered oil changes and gasoline. You wouldn’t care how much gas you used, and you wouldn’t care what it cost. Mechanics would sell you $100 oil changes. Prices would skyrocket. That’s how it works in health care. Patients don’t ask how much a test or treatment will cost. They ask if their insurance covers it. They don’t compare prices from different doctors and hospitals. Prices do vary. Why should they? They’re not paying. Although they do in hidden, indirect ways.
“In the end, we all pay more because no one seems to pay anything. It’s why health insurance is not a good idea for anything but serious illnesses and accidents that could bankrupt you. For the rest, we should pay out of our savings.”
A problem can never be fixed until it is defined, and I think Stossel has just put his finger on it.
Just because we can do something (like perform a hip replacement on an 87-year-old woman dying of stomach cancer) doesn’t mean we should.