In an op-ed in the New York Times economist Victor R. Fuchs offers a suggestion for trimming U. S. healthcare spending which, despite the fact that I agree it, I think is impossible:
The excess in the United States is primarily attributable to a more expensive mix of procedures and services, higher prices paid to drug companies and physicians, and inefficiencies in the financing of health care. There are undoubtedly cultural differences between the United States and other countries, but it is also true that Swedes differ from Italians, Germans from French, and the English from all of the above.
What these countries have in common that distinguishes their health care systems from the American is universal insurance for basic care, a larger share of government in financing health care (typically about 75 percent of the total versus 50 percent in the United States), and more aggressive control of expenditures.
It reminds me of one of my favorite Yiddish wisecracks: if my grandmother had balls she’d be my grandfather.
Rather than return to something we’ve argued about around here, perhaps, fifty times over the last 10 years, I want to turn the question on its ear: would the British have created the British National Health system under the conditions that prevail in Britain and in healthcare today? I do not believe they would.
We have the additional problems that we have not historically been willing to limit government medical programs to “basic care” or control expenditures aggressively, viz. the annual postponing of cost control referred to as the “doc fix”.