TIME magazine this week takes aim at our outrageous health care costs. This time the bad guy is our hospitals that engage in scandalous inflation of charges. You know the usual suspects causing our out of control health care costs - hospitals, insurance companies, drug makers and managed care outfits. But once again the attack misses the real reason for our excessive health care costs - doctors.
The average doctor in the USA earns three to four times what his colleague in Europe earns. But the standard of health care is the same. More importantly the other major cost factors, hospitals, drugs, and insurance, cost more or less the same. To state it boldly, US health care costs are outrageous because our doctors have no shame in setting their fees.
TIME points to Medicare as a control on soaring health care costs. However, the US Congress recently voted to delay implementation of reductions in what Medicare will pay for health care services. The vote was the result of a massive scare campaign conducted by the medical profession. The scare, doctors will refuse to see Medicare patients if Medicare lowers its fee schedule. What nonsense! The Federal Government pays about half of all medical care services in the country. I doubt doctors will be able to survive if they forgo half the available market.
Until we are serious and put the brakes on doctors and their fees we will continue to have rocketing health care costs.