Hospital Care

Frum tries to diagnose the health care system:

The hardest problems for Americans are not so much medical as financial. Insurance premiums have doubled in the past decade and Medicare and Medicaid, the government health programs, are growing at a rate that cannot possibly continue. Tens of millions of people lack insurance. Yet they do not go uncared for. Rather they use the most expensive care, emergency care, and hospitals add the cost on to the bills of paying patients.

Almost all the problems of the US health system trace back to a pair of unexpected ironies: profit-driven private insurance corporations find it much harder to say “no” than governments do, and American governments are more unsustainably generous than their European and Canadian counterparts.

That sounds incredible, I know. But consider: government looms huge in the US health system. An absolute majority of all health dollars spent in America are spent by one form of government or another. Everybody knows that the US has a private health system while neighboring Canada’s is public. Yet US federal and state governments spend as much public money on healthcare per American as Canadian federal and provincial governments spend per Canadian.

I agree with about eighty percent of this. Depending upon an American's plan, private insurance corporations often say "no" to treatments. And though hospitals have to provide care to those who lack insurance, not all of these patients get a government handout. I know plenty of people who have gone to a hospital without insurance and been forced to pay thousands of dollars in inflated charges. 60 Miinutes did a report on this a few years ago. Kaiser had a good report () in 2004 on