I had some conflicting thoughts about linking to this post, which brings up the oh-so-wonderful plans to make America's health care system over into some kind of copy of the ever more useless health care systems as seen in Canada or the UK or a host of other nations with 'nationalized' health care.
The numerous comments brought up a number of valid points, criticisms, and ideas of how to fix our health care system, assuming that any attempt at a system wide fix won't just make things worse.
Having been part of the health care system many years ago, with other family members either having retired from health care or still deeply involved working in health care, I think I can safely say that there are a number of factors that affect the cost and availability of medical care in the US.
-1- Paperwork: Probably the biggest burden every medical practice suffers. While moves have been made to streamline the mountains of paperwork involved with medical care by using information technology, there's still a lot of room for improvement.
-2- Malpractice Insurance: Between the premiums squeezing some practitioners out of their specialties, OB/GYN being the most prevalent, and doctor's taking a defensive posture by ordering more tests to back up their diagnoses in case they're sued, it's no wonder costs keep going up.
-3- Health Insurance: Medical costs didn't start skyrocketing until health insurance became readily available to the masses. Office visits and procedures became far more expensive once a majority of people had health insurance. See #1 above.
-4- Medical Technology: New equipment and procedures that didn't exist 20 years ago are here today, and they aren't cheap. It doesn't help that many patients demand the latest/greatest/best when it comes to their treatment, even if some of the older proven remedies and treatments are just as effective. While this might not be a large factor (though it probably is), it is one thing that most people don't think about when they complain about health care costs.
There are plenty more factors to look into, including the lack of preventative medicine. It's far less expensive to take action before something becomes a problem than after. Unfortunately many people take poor care of themselves and then expect the doctors to bail them out once things go wrong. At that point it's always more expensive to fix the problem.
Some may say that some kind of national health care system will fix the problem, but from what I've seen of other countries I would much prefer that my doctor figure out a course of treatment for me than some faceless government bureaucrat that does not have my best interests at heart.