Monday, March 12, 2012

It's The Prices, Stupid

Next week we'll be back to talking about recipes and pictures and all that, but this Monday, I'm posting yet another brief piece on the cost of healthcare. Many of you may remember that a few months ago, I wrote a blog post arguing that the lack of transparency in healthcare pricing was a major contributor to the current healthcare crisis - consumers can't shop around or access information on pricing, which means that we're unable to make smart purchases, as we can in other industries. In many ways, this has become a pet issue for me - in my practice, I make sure that I cut my patients a fair deal and am honest and up front about pricing, and in my blogging I write regularly on the topic.

Last week saw a great article in the Washington Post's Business section which detailed a major source of the rise in healthcare costs - the pricing of the procedures themselves. I've posted charts in the past about why Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than our Canadian neighbors, but it turns out that we pay more for procedures across the board, in some cases double what is paid by our peer nations. Click here to link to the article, but let me warn you that some of the numbers are shocking. Were the US leading the world in healthcare performance, that would be one thing, but our performance is average at best - our infant mortality rates are poor for an industrialized nation, life expectancy is similarly low, and our obesity rates are rising dramatically (click that last link to see the most disturbing animation of CDC data you'll ever see). We're not getting a sufficient bang for our buck, and while the Health Care Reform bill will be a step in the right direction, it's not nearly enough.