Hot Potato: Food for Thought
Where Did All the Money Go?
Health Care
1997 June 20

The US spends a higher proportion of its GNP on health care than any other nation in the world, and health care costs continue to spiral. Despite this enormous expenditure, the results are the worst of any major developed nation. Tens of millions of Americans have no health insurance. What went wrong?

Malpractice insurance is the largest single line item in the budgets of many physicians. For some high-exposure specialists, insurance costs may reach half of all fees received. This is a direct consequence of American litigiousness. If anything goes wrong, somebody must be found to blame, and they must pay. Overly sympathetic juries and lawyers working on a contingency-fee basis drive up the costs of insurance enormously. The practice of defensive medicine also dramatically increases costs. The hospitalization requirement for insurance benefits needlessly increases the numbers treated as in-patients.

Canadian healthcare is better and much cheaper than American. Congress must find the courage to deal with this problem.

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