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Ross: A new theory about why our health care is so expensive


How many times have we tried to explain why health care costs so much more in America than anyplace else?  We’ve blamed the insurance companies, big pharma, hospitals, and the government, among others. But, a piece by David Freedman in The Atlantic reveals another reason I hadn’t considered: Terrible patients.

An important question about America’s health care system

For example, we’ve all heard how efficient the French health care system is. But the article argues it’s because French patients actually do what their doctors say, and that when they get a terminal disease, they don’t demand heroic treatments to buy more time in a nursing home.

Whereas Americans ignore doctors orders, don’t take their pills, don’t exercise, demand operations they don’t need, and when they get a terminal disease, will pay any price to live another month.

It’s very possible that if the French behaved like that, their system would be just as expensive as ours.

So what to do? Well, we could pass laws that forbid doctors from performing unnecessary surgery just because a patient wants it. That’s what those heartbeat bills in the Red States are about — just extend that to all procedures.

Could threat of free health care be enough to reform industry?

But I don’t think even the Red States would go that far.

Which means our only option is for more Americans to emigrate to Europe, get citizenship, and spread our lousy health care habits.

It won’t do much to reform health care here, but at least Europeans won’t be able to act so smug about it anymore.

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