How to Heal Health Care

Bill Frist and Hillary Clinton have a joint op-ed in WaPo entitled “How to Heal Health Care.” So far as I can tell, however, the op-ed does not actually answer the titular question.

FILED UNDER: Health, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    You’re right, it doesn’t. So it’s just another example of the mealy-mouthed treatment that this issue is receiving. We need to recognize that

    1. No reform will “heal health care” so long as physician salaries and hospital costs (the two largest cost components) rise without bounds
    2. Government accounts for 50-60% of all health care spending.
    3. There are no forces other than government that can control the rise in costs so long as government with its deep pockets is the largest purchaser of health care.

    The health care system has gotten to the position it’s in right now after 40 years of government mis-management. I wish I had good solutions that would solve the problem without pain. I don’t.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    That should be “No reform” above. I forgot that your comments processing strips HTML.

  3. A bigger problem than physician salaries is the disconect between the consumer and costs. Very few people in this country have health insurance – we have pre-paid health care. Most people have no idea how much their health care costs. All they know is that it costs $20 to visit the doctor, and prescriptions cost $35. Then once a year they bitch when their employer wants them to pitch in an additional $25 a week towards health care. Health insurance is getting so expensive for employers that I think we are nearing a crisis point where major employers will stop offering it – forcing the government to come in and “save” the system. I also think the statists are already gleefully planning for that day.

  4. They seem to have limited the column to the things that can be easily agreed upon. Thus, they stuck to IT and the like.

    It’s not blockbuster stuff, but could be useful.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    Chris O’Donnell:

    You’re right. The complexity of medical billing doesn’t help, either. It’s another reason that there’s no real market in health care.

  6. Joseph Marshall says:

    “There are no forces other than government that can control the rise in costs so long as government with its deep pockets is the largest purchaser of health care.”

    We could start by understanding how much our presuppostitions about what is going on are colored by our political predispositions and their corresponding rhetoric.

    Let’s take those “deep pockets”, for example. My companion is totally disabled and has been so since 1980. Medicare pays primary and Medicaid pays secondary for her care. We recently calculated that her monthly Rx costs alone, at full retail, average $1100.

    Medicaid (still the only payor of her prescriptions) actually pays between 10% and 40% of that depending on the drug, with an average of around 30% or $330 (exact figures are hard to come by since the Medicaid prices, and even whether a drug is covered at all change monthly (!) in Ohio). The rest is written off by the pharmacy.

    Medicare and Medicaid between them generally pay no more than this 30% (and sometimes considerably less) for all her medical services, which average 1-2 doctor appointments per week with supplemental services, and with chronic health flares this can rise almost instantly to 3-4 visits a week for weeks at a time!

    Virtually all of the surplus cost of this the providers have to write off!

    What is the “just price” of all this? And how closely does it match what the Government pays? Heaven alone knows!

    But I doubt short of running a complete “care mill”, with considerable fraud on the side, that any provider could make a living seeing Medicare and Medicaid patients only.

    Some deep pockets.

  7. Dr. Lissa Fahlman says:

    THe biggest health care costs are NOT doctors and hospitals. The 2 biggest costs are the insurance companies (have you looked at what the CEO’s make?!) and technology. I’m not down on our advancing technological abilities, but they do cost more.

    The hidden costs for insurance companies are the costs the doctor’s offices spend to meet their filing requirements. I have a small clinic with a total of 3 employees. One full time equivalent is totally due to accepting insurances – the paperwork and filing requirements – and, we don’t get paid at reasonable levels to provide good health care. It makes it difficult to keep the doors open !