Feature

Why health care is too expensive

In the U.S., health-care providers “have too much power,” and insurers have little leverage over costs.

Ezra Klein
Bloomberg.com

Liberals who long for a government-run, single-payer health-care system can’t wait to get rid of insurance companies, said Ezra Klein. But it’s not insurers who are driving up the cost of health care in this country—it’s doctors, hospitals, and drug companies. Just look at the bottom line. Health insurance is ranked by Forbes as the country’s 35th most profitable industry, “with an anemic 2.2 percent return on revenue.” Pharmaceutical and medical-device manufacturers, meanwhile, saw returns of between 16 percent and 20 percent. Doctors are more likely than any other profession to have incomes in the top 1 percent. In nations with truly nationalized health-care systems, the government sets prices for drugs and health care. In the U.S., health-care providers “have too much power,” and insurers have little leverage over costs. As a result, an MRI costs an average of $1,211 in the U.S. and $363 in France, while a caesarean birth costs $3,676 here and $606 in Canada. Yes, doctors and hospitals “work every day to save our lives,” but “they make us pay dearly for the privilege.”

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