[extropy-chat] Health Care Costs (was Extinctions)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at tsoft.com
Fri Jun 16 08:19:26 UTC 2006

Damien S. wrote

> The killer figure for me is that Medicare is said to have 2% overhead,
> vs. 14% or more in private insurers and HMOs.  Government inefficiency,
> yeah.

Do you happen to know how the private insurers compared to the HMOs?
(Sorry, I'm probably asking a lot, I myself don't have time to
research it.)  The HMOs arose in the first place as a government
effort, special legislation and all.

Here is something scary I read just today:


    "It's a symptom of how the nation's emergency-care system is overcrowded
    and overwhelmed, ``at its breaking point," said an investigation by the
    Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies, which advises the
    government on health issues."

(Well, we've all heard of "the crisis in health care" for a decade or two.)

    "The safety net . . . has large holes," a coauthor, Dr. A. Brent Eastman,
    chief medical officer at ScrippsHealth in San Diego, said yesterday. 
    [Ellipsis in the original.]  "You may not be caught and saved when your
    life depends on it."

Ah, but only later down in the article do they happen to mention:

    At the root of the crisis: Demand for emergency care is surging, even as
    the capacity for hospitals, ambulance services, and other emergency workers
    to provide it is dropping.

    There were almost 114 million emergency-room visits in 2003, up from
    90 million a decade earlier. Only about half were true medical
    emergencies. When the poor and uninsured cannot get healthcare anywhere
    else, they go to emergency rooms, which must treat them regardless of
    ability to pay.

Yes, once there has been a disengagement between who pays, and
who receives the benefits, the situation spirals out of hand

On this list someone recently mentioned the alarming several percent
increase in U.S. medical costs in the last few years. And that wasn't
plain increase.  That was increase of the percent of GNP!

The Russians cracked when they felt forced to spend 14% of GNP on
defense. But the U.S. is now spending more than that on health care,
and the end is nowhere in sight.


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