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The Only Way To Decrease Healthcare Costs Is To Ration Care

Those on the left will pretty much sacrifice everything to attain their goal of universal coverage.

But, in this well-reasoned piece by conservative economist Tyler Cowen, expanding coverage won’t necessarily control costs, which is a more imperative issue. The bandied about means of cost control, such as electronic medical records, cutting provider payments, and preventive care, all will have little nor no impact in controlling costs.

Take physician reimbursements, for instance, a favorite target of health reforms. According Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt, a favorite son among policy wonks, cutting physician pay by 20% would only reduce spending by 2%.

Furthermore, under the current payment system, simply cutting provider reimbursements will only give more of an incentive to do more procedures to make up for lost revenue.

The hard truth is that care will be rationed, and that’s something the Obama administration is unwilling to admit. Indeed, as Mr. Cohen writes, “if we aren’t willing to take even limited steps to conserve resources, we shouldn’t be spending any more money elsewhere.”

Cost control first before universal coverage, and therein lies the central contention of the debate.

And the worst case scenario, as progressive blogger Ezra Klein correctly surmises is, “that the final bill will include a pricey expansion of coverage paired with a speculative and uncertain set of cost controls.”

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*


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One Response to “The Only Way To Decrease Healthcare Costs Is To Ration Care”

  1. timmcdowellmd says:

    Guess what? Health care is being rationed in the USA already. Private insurers deny coverage for certain illnesses or pre-existing conditions. 50 million people don't have any healthcare at all.
    The right wings paranoid fear of government run institutions doesn't seem to run to things that the right wing supports…such as a large military and support of the military industrial complex, so this boils down to ideology again.
    A single payer system is the only way to reduce costs overall to the health care system. This is not in question by anyone who is willing to step away from a right wing mindset. Yes there will be rationing, as there already is under the present system. It will mean that the super-elites won' t be getting millions of dollars worth of dubious screening and investigation (excessive healthcare) and those who now have none will be able to get the basics. So, the whining is coming from the rich and the spoiled and greedy elite who are the minority that consume the majority of healthcare spending.

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