GECON200-Topic #1: Supply and Demand for Health Care

There are several current proposals to overhaul the health insurance system, but this does not necessarily coincide with the health care system. A story in the Dallas Morning News asks whether or not there are issues with the way health care is provided. Patients do not seem to be demanding many of the procedures, but consume the care because providers are asking for tests and procedures. Another article in the San Francisco Chronicle explores more of what they call our “sick-care” system.

The Baucus plan for health insurance overhaul tries to tackle some of the issues in the pricing mechanism. How do you believe this plan would improve or hurt the status quo? Another issue raised by Kevin Sack at the New York Times, is that there is a shortage of doctors in places like Massachusetts where there currently is an expansive health insurance program. There has also been a great deal of anger about the possible access by illegal immigrants Do you believe that there are valid issues in the immigration debate over health care, or do you believe it is a distraction. Please support your answers.

Questions you might try to answer:

  • Do you think that the price system is “upside down” in the health care system? Try to provide some evidence to this.
  • What evidence can you provide that our health care incentives are not well structured. Do you believe the government could play a role in fixing this market?
  • What role should the government play in the health insurance market? If you are for the status quo, a single payer system, or a cooperative system, try to explain your choice in terms of cost-benefit analysis.

I would like your statements to be as subjective as possible, or in jargon terms, positive and not normative in nature. Also, remember, I want you to keep your descriptions short, basic, and related to classroom content. Read other students comments before posting, and please leave your name with your posting.

42 thoughts on “GECON200-Topic #1: Supply and Demand for Health Care”

  1. After reading the article in the San Francisco Chronicle, I believe that the five main points the author made about health in the United States are very valid ones. Part of the reason that the Health care system is such a mess is because people are not taking care of themselves so they have to seek more medical attention than they would if they had taken care of their health. "Leading causes of bad health — obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes — could be rolled back by sensible prevention guidelines that people simply aren't following" (Chopra). Because these people need more medical attention the wait to see doctors and other primary care physicians have increased immensely as the article in the New York Times explains. Many people are being left untreated because of the massive waits that many doctor’s offices are facing. “Forty percent of family physicians said they were not accepting new patients” simply because they cannot handle the amount of patients that are coming in to be treated (Sack). If society took steps to prevent illnesses and other factors that cause health problems, the idea of a universal health care system would not be so far out of reach.Annie E.

  2. In modern day health care the system does not work the way the free market is suppose to work. Usually in a free market, the more the competition the lower the prices; however in today’s system of health care, competition raises prices. Therefore this is not truly a free market because consumers are not directly paying for the service that they receive. The United States spends more on health care than any other country in the world and the health care costs continue to rise (Landers). Government figures show that in 2004 health care spending reached 1.9 trillion dollars, equaling sixteen percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (“U.S Health Care World’s Most Expensive”). I believe that we need to somehow cut costs without hurting the quality of the care. If we choose to socialize health care it will only hurt our current system even more than it is now. By getting rid of competing insurance plans and replacing it with a single pay system we will lose many physicians. When the government plans to insure fifty-million people with fewer doctors than the quality of health care will go down. This also proves how the socialized health care does not care about the value of human life. For instance in this system we will have to ration the amount of health care with the elderly. Therefore more people will die at a younger age due to waiting lists. In Canada in order to get a colonoscopy there is an average wait of eight months. This waiting list makes the colon cancer rates twenty-five percent higher than in the United States (Morris). I believe that instead of starting a socialized healthcare we should create a mixed system between private healthcare and public. However the one main problem with our current system is that competition doesn’t work when the consumer of the service doesn’t directly pay for the product. I believe that instead of the insurance companies paying the doctors the people should directly pay the doctors. This will make people look for quality healthcare at lower prices since they are paying out of their own pockets. This will help to lower prices while still keeping the quality up. For the people who are uninsured, I believe should receive public healthcare from the government as if you were receiving food stamps or collecting unemployment. By expanding the Medicaid plan towards more people we can accomplish this mixed system of private and public healthcare. Morris,Dick. “Obama’s Head Wind on Healthcare” Creators. 19 Sept. 2009.22 Sept. 2009“Health Care: Worlds Most Expensive Topic”. VOANews.28 Feb. 2006. 22 Sept.2009Marco Romaniello

  3. The article in the San Francisco Chronicle had five great points on what needs to be done in order to health care. In the business market when the competition goes up the prices go down, but the price system in health care is most definitely “upside down.” The Government needs to do something to fix this market. Currently the government is spending $900 billion on the war in Iraq, but refuses to spend the same amount on a health care system (Chopra). Point four in the article from San Francisco Chronicle is the one that I think needs to be dealt with immediately. Doctors performing unnecessary procedures just to earn more money, is what people do in the business world, but when these procedures are putting someone’s health in jeopardy it’s just wrong. I think the government should implement a health care system much like the one Canada has. The health care system in Canada is funded 70 percent by the public and the remaining 30 percent by private funders. Their health care system is mostly free at the point of use and has most services provided by private entities. Canada’s Medicare program is cost effective because of their administrative simplicity. Costs are paid through funding from income taxes. The population here is obviously much greater than the population in Canada, but I still feel this could be an effective plan. M. Ingham

  4. The market for medical care is obviously upside down, the competition for health care causes the prices to rise, but in most cases competition forces prices to decrease. All people need health care, so the supply and demand is not changing, yet the prices are. Also there is no incentive for the doctors to do an actual efficient job just do more costly procedures, being that the customer isn’t paying, their insurance is there is no objection. (Landers) According to San Francisco Chronicle, the leading causes for poor health in the United States is self inflicted like: obesity, alcohol consumption, or cigarette addiction. We are becoming a nation that isn’t concerned in preventing sickness, but only concern is treating it. Right now the public’s benefit in being unhealthy is worth the cost. Changing this system is going to be a long process, the first step should be to start with health education in the schools, and focus on the future. Americans just want to make money, the government can try to fix the system alone, but society as a whole must change first. Kristin Cecil

  5. I believe the price system is “upside down” in the health care system because more competition is accompanied by higher costs. This directly contradicts the rules of supply and demand, where more competition should be result in lower costs. In addition, the high costs of medical care do not result in better care. One would assume that the more money that is spend on medical care, the better the care. The reality of this is completely opposite. "The laws of supply and demand are not working," said Darren Rodgers, president of BlueCross BlueShield of Texas. "We have lots of hospitals, lots of doctors and lots of demand" (Landers). Personally, I find the Mark McClellan’s idea for health reform in Dallas where doctors and hospitals are paid for “quality and efficiency” as opposed to volume and as a result “spending will fall” (Landers). This encourages doctors to be accountable for the results of their patients, rather than performing useless procedures and over-prescribing medication. Alyson Young

  6. A major controversial topic right now is who should decide on treatment for older people. Should the government get to decide or does the actual person get to speak for themselves. Former Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, has coronary artery disease. Under Obama’s Health Care Reform a government panel would get to decide for him. (http://stanleyfeldmdmace.typepad.com/) . This is highly upsetting to me seeing as each person is an unique individual and might have their own reasoning for staying alive or having the plug pulled. Sarah Palin has expertly called this plan the “Death Panel”. Obama is trying to have a panel of experts who will decide the best form of “treatment” for each patient and then tell the doctor what to do. It’s basically becoming a way to cut out patient input. This reform will jeopardize patient-physician relationships, physician’s conscious and judgment, and patient’s participation in their recovery; just to achieve his goal of saving money.Laura Danaher

  7. Because the rules of supply and demand are failing in the healthcare system, turning it "upside down" families are suffering at the expense of the doctor's want for a growing salary. Rather than being reimbursed for unnecessary surgeries and tests, hospitals should cut the funding to surgeons, perhaps making them think twice about what's really in the best interest of the patient. This could possibly help eliminate the superfluous costs in medical care, thus righting the rules of supply and demand. It is horrific that doctor's are unwilling to accept new patients simply because they are overloaded with potential incoming flow of patients. Perhaps if these expensive and often time consuming tests were better allocated doctor's could see more patients and offer them better individual care balancing the supply and demand out for the better.1) http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/DN-health_main_20bus.ART1.State.Edition2.4beb685.html2)http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/with-so-many-now-insured-finding-a-doctor-gets-even-harder-in-massachusetts/M. Seckinger

  8. In the article put out by the San Francisco Chronicle it mentioned how today people need more health care services because they are not taking care of themselves in the first place (Chopra). I think that in order to change the amount of money being spent on tests and surgeries is prevention. I understand that in most places there is minimal talk to elementary students about the importance of eating healthy and exercising regularly, but there can be more done. If more students were told about the dangers of obesity, and taught that eating an apple instead of a bag of chips and playing outside instead of in front of the computer could keep a lot of them out of the doctor’s offices later in life. I also think that the patients are not really the ones in charge of the treatment that they are receiving. Obviously the doctors are the ones that know best, but the doctors are also the ones prescribing as much medicine and tests as possible as to turn a profit. “Doctors are creating the demand to cover their backs and increase their income” (Chopra). If patients were advised on how to stay healthy in the first place, then we could eliminate a lot of unnecessary spending. I think that in a perfect world, everyone who needed health insurance or treatment would be able to attain it at on an affordable level, but in reality, we do not live in a perfect world. "Doctors are not trained to keep people healthy"(Chopra). I think that if doctors were trained on how to teach people how to stay healthy it would keep a lot of patients out of their offices and thus reduce unnecessary spending.http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/09/14/chopra091409.DTLAlisa B.

  9. In this health care debate there are two issues: lowering the staggering cost of health care, and providing universal care to all. Unfortunately, these problems seem to conflict with one another. Most fear that the new plan “will either deepen the federal deficit or pare back medical care for those who are currently insured, particularly seniors under Medicare (despite Obama's vows to do neither)” (Landers). The problem of lowering health care costs, may in fact, be the easier of the two and the solution could ultimately enable more people to receive health care. Unlike Mr. Chopra (San Francisco Chronicle), I do not believe that all American doctors are greedy and just in it for themselves. Mr. Chopra says that doctors are performing unnecessary tests in order to “increase their income”. That may be true for a few, but for the majority I think they do these tests because they do not want to be sued for malpractice. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, roughly a quarter of all medical malpractice suits filed, are successful. “This is a much lower percentage of success than other tort cases, however the amount of compensation awarded in malpractice is significantly higher” (http://medicalmalpracticelawblog.com/2008/10/31/statistics-on-medical-malpractice-lawsuits/). This is a major factor behind all of the unnecessary tests doctors run because they do not want to have a lawsuit that takes years and a large amount of money to fight. The government should step in here by placing a ceiling on how much money a lawyer can make from a malpractice suit. This would cause lawyers to only take on cases where there was obvious negligence. By doing this, medical costs would decrease (enabling more people to afford it) and doctors would have time for more patients. Everybody wins.Joe R.

  10. Our health care system is flawed for many reasons but it starts with how un-logical the system has become by favoring economics over morality. The articles from the Dallas Morning News and the San Francisco Chronicle address how the supply and demand of hospitals and health care are “upside down”. “Logically, the more competition, the lower the price. It doesn’t work that way in health care. Competition increases the price.” (Alfred Knight) It also doesn’t help that in order to hit insurance status quo and increase their own incomes; doctors prescribe unnecessary tests and procedures. Health care as we know it is deteriorating in value with elevating costs. However, the problem isn’t all in the system; it begins with us. Americans rely too much on “rescue medications” or instant pain remedies. We have become too accustom to short-cutting simple prevention by using new medications, surgeries and procedures. Deepak Chopra believes that one basic point not addressed by health care is prevention. High spending does not necessarily mean better care. At a Seattle hospital, patients with back pain were given physical therapy rather than expensive medications and MRI’s. This improved the quality of care and outcomes of the patients but left the hospital with less revenue. This proves the point that prevention may be more effective but does not make any money.Cassandra Lenski

  11. Anonymous said…The Star-Telegram article about the accessibility of health care to illegal immigrants has very valid points. The Obama administration is apparently caving in to demands that would bar illegal immigrants from using their own money to buy health insurance from the proposed insurance exchange designed to provide affordable coverage. This would have two detrimental effects. First off, if we spend more money trying to monitor and regulate the participation in a free marketplace, it would be a complete waste and it would only add on to the United State’s debt. A House oversight committee discovered in 2007 that tougher Medicare citizenship-verification rules in six states cost the federal government an additional $8.3 million—and netted just eight illegal immigrants. The input of cost put in to tracking illegal immigrants receiving health insurance does not have a good opportunity cost, and therefore is not beneficial to the United States. Therefore, the six states that have implemented the tougher Medicare citizenship-verification rules need to reconsider the impact it has on the United States economy. Secondly, it would affect private health insurance companies who offer insurance to illegal immigrants. The demand of health insurance would continue to rise, while the supply of health insurance would decrease because illegal immigrants would be prohibited from receiving health insurance due to the push for stronger expectations on who can receive Medicare. Illegal immigrants are a healthier and younger population than the U.S. population. Therefore illegal immigrants do not account for the rising health care costs. Illegal immigrants also try to avoid the government at any cost. Also, with our economy facing a recession, more individuals are becoming eligible thereby increasing demands for funding and services, and it seems to me like the United States is looking for an outlet or a group to blame for rising costs in health insurance. Therefore, I believe that the immigration debate over health care is just a distraction because in fact illegal immigrants place no real threat to our health care system. http://www.ada.org/public/manage/insurance/medicare.asp- A. Ou

  12. Based on these articles, it is hard not to interpret our health care system as “upside down.” The principles of supply and demand are ineffective in this system, mainly because “demand is stimulated by health providers, not patients” (1). Issues now arise over both the high costs of medical treatment and the poor quality of patient care. Failed attempts to reform health care have led many to call for total government intervention programs, including universal insurance and public option. However, government intervention is not always the answer. As seen in Massachusetts, “universal coverage doesn’t equate to universal access” (2) and there are simply too many issues to be immediately solved by the government, and thus a public option plan. As Mark McClellan states, immediate action providing doctors incentives for quality care should be enforced (1). If focus is placed on issues that can be corrected at present, then it will give the government time to develop effective and efficient policy.(1) Landers, Jim. “Dallas sees no relief in health care expenses as competition drives up costs.” Dallas Morning News, September 20, 2009. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/DN-health_main_20bus.ART1.State.Edition2.4beb685.html(2) Sack, Kevin. “With So Many Now Insured, Finding a Doctor Gets Even Harder in Massachusetts.” New York Times, September 14, 2009. http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/with-so-many-now-insured-finding-a-doctor-gets-even-harder-in-massachusetts/Additional Sources:-Condon, Stephanie. “Baucus' Health Bill Just the Beginning.” CBS News, September 16, 2009. http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/09/16/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5315355.shtml-Chopra, Deepak. “Why health care reform won't reform health.” San Francisco Chronicle, September 14, 2009. http://www.sfgate.com/cgibin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/09/14/chopra091409.DTLLauren Trani

  13. There is a short supply of medical doctors in a lot of areas, one being Massachusetts. This short supply of doctors is causing many practices to lower the amount of patients they are taking in, which is making medical care very hard to find. Even gynecologists and obstetricians are taking in less patients than normal (Sack). Many more people have Healthcare plans now (which signifies a higher demand for medical care), but there are not enough doctors, signifying the short supply. Over 440,000 people have been added to the insurance rolls lately in Massachusetts, like in other parts of the country as well. This population variable is what is putting the system out of whack, and most of these patients have “deferred care for years” (Sack) because of the lack of available or affordable healthcare. This illustrates a negative relationship between the supply and demand, because as the healthcare system is increasing and providing for MORE people, there are LESS doctors to take care of them. This increased demand with decreased supply shows us there is a shortage in the healthcare market as a whole. In this economic situation, prices should rise to boost the supply and demand amounts back to equilibrium, but that is just not going to happen with Universal Healthcare and the economy right now. One of the solutions to this problem could possibly be expanding primary care training at local institutes and/or creating financial incentives for those who commit to practice in certain areas where doctors are most needed. These two factors (the amount of doctors and the amount of citizens with healthcare) must even out before the Healthcare industry can change at all, and this issue of supply and demand is extremely significant. http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/with-so-many-now-insured-finding-a-doctor-gets-even-harder-in-massachusetts/Melissa Gehlbach

  14. There is a major shortage of primary health care providers, especially in Massachusetts. Why this shortage? Under Obama administration, more uninsured people will gain health insurance thus increasing the demand for health care. But at the same time, most doctors that graduate with almost $140,000 in debt decide that they need to specialize in a high salary field. The primary provider’s reimbursement is low and doctor’s choose not to accept new patients with low reimbursements. There have been proposal to redistribute the reimbursement cost between specialists and general practitioners, but, with no surprise, there is a huge disagreement from the specialists. And the possible unintended consequence would be the fact that “If there’s less money for hip and knee replacements, fewer of them will be done for people who need them.” As more people get insured, the increase in demand and the shortage of health care providers will drive up the price even further. I want to agree with Alisa B. in that perhaps a decreasing the demand by reducing the number of people who need health treatment is another way to approach this. United State have one of the most unhealthiest diet compared to the rest of the world. Promoting change in eat individuals and decreasing the need for so many doctors may allow the supply and demand curves to meet the equilibrium.Works CitedPEAR, ROBERT. "Shortage of Doctors an Obstacle to Obama Goals." nytimes (2009).Pollan, Micheal. In Defense of Food. New York: Penguin Books, 2009.David Park

  15. After stating the three C’s of reform (costs, coverage, and character), the San Francisco Chronicle quotes Obama asking our citizens "Is America a society that squanders $900 billion on a dishonest war but refuses to spend the same amount to give its citizens affordable health care?" The government has clearly been spending a surplus of money that many Americans do not agree with, same goes with giving health insurance to those who currently do not have their own policy. Receiving health care has become an issue even for citizens that are currently insurance policy holders because of inflated use of procedures. But what if the American Government decides to pass a bill that’ll give access to insurance to everyone? Canada currently has a health care system regulated by the government and do not get near the quality healthcare that Americans’ do. Suppose a bill does get passed; we’ll drop further into the depths of debt, we’ll have subpar health care system, and the extraneous precautions that are frequently looked down upon will be substantially reversed. Stick to individual health care plans please.-B Costello

  16. After reading some of the reviews from the article “Baucus Plan,” I agree with the statement that giving tax relief to people who buy their own insurance may only increase “outrageous lawsuits for malpractice.” There are some people who will not be able to afford healthcare — they are desperate. By using subsidy programs, those who cannot afford a plan may not get the best quality care. (How can quality for all be guaranteed?) If quality is sketchy, then malpractice lawsuits will continue. When I read the article from “The New York Times,” one argument that stuck with me was Jim W's comparison of our healthcare to Cuba’s. Compare our Universal health care to our student health center at JMU. The student health center is free however I have encountered some of the worst services from the health center, and I know I am not alone. Once again, how to ensure quality in service is very important and those who are insured should try and receive the best health care available. However for those who uninsured will most likely get the standard treatment and will not receive the proper care that they may require. Erica Winchester

  17. "Is America a society that squanders $900 billion on a dishonest war but refuses to spend the same amount to give its citizens affordable health care?" (Chopra) says president Barrack H. Obama. In the article that was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Chopra digs deeper to explain how we can help ourselves from even worse of the health care problem. The five points that are pointed out are all valid and I totally agree of what he has to say about the health care system. I think that the most important point that we are ignoring is that fact that the health problems that people need the health care for involves things that they can help their selves with. The fact that “That's why sugary drinks are now the single largest source of calories in the average diet” (Chopra) shows that we have a growing problem. The second most important point in my eyes is that doctors are looking after their best interests in the way of money and not looking after the people that are demanding the health care. “Without government action, the private sector will push drugs and surgery because prevention doesn't show up as profit on their bottom line” (Chopra). Heather Diodati

  18. I believe that the price system is “upside down” in the healthcare system for many reasons. With the Obama administration looking to institute a monitor on illegal immigrants buying health insurance, this “remedy would cost more than the problem” (1). This would also eventually come back to citizens in their taxes, backfiring from the original purpose. The most prominent of the upside down cost issues is the fact that medical care demand will continue to be the same, however, while the supply and demand increase; the price steadily increases as well. One of the reasons for this is the “$700 billion in unnecessary tests and procedures” that doctors perform due to their fear of being charged with malpractice in the case that they did not test (3). The healthcare incentives also lack structure. The “noncompetitive insurance plans” leave the consumer few options (3). The “near-universal” coverage is also depriving many of primary care doctors in that “Forty percent of family physicians said they were not accepting new patients” (2). The government should take effective steps at prevention rather than remedy; through public education, the government could implement programs to reduce obesity and addiction problems (3).1. http://www.star-telegram.com/242/v-print/story/1622392.html2.http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/with-so-many-now-insured-finding-a-doctor-gets-even-harder-in-massachusetts/3. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/g/2009/09/14/chopra091409.DTL&type=printable-Michelle Heard

  19. The growing trend in the United States today is to not go to the doctor to have regular checkups, but to wait until a person is sick or something more serious arises. People in the United States are growing more and more obese as the year’s progress on. The article titled, “Why Health Care Reform won’t reform Health”, points out five legitimate points about today’s health care system and the people working in it. The five points in the article address specific issues such as good health, doctors’ actions and roles, public options in health care reforms, sick-care system, and the money that is allowed through the government. Point number four really caught my attention because society as a whole has become a “sick-care system (SFGate).” The quote that says, “Doctors are not trained to keep people healthy,” is precisely true (SFGate). Health care reforms are needed for people who are not willing to take care of themselves or have the doctors to step in and tell them to do so. Also reforms are needed because doctors can charge whatever they want for health services and people have to pay it whether they have insurance or not. Efforts need to be in the medical world as well as in the insurance world. In a free market system, consumers have the right to decide when and what they want to purchase. In the insurance world, a person would assume that the more competitive companies, the lower the prices, but sadly that is not the case. Insurance companies can make money off of policies because people need health insurance so there is no limit to what they can charge or see fit to pay for. The insurance companies make millions off of people because simply they can. More needs to be done in setting standards and developing more health plans for all levels of incomes. Universal can be great, but it should not be the one and only choice for Americans. Deepak, Chopra. "Why health care reform won't reform health." San Francisco Chronicle 14 September 2009, Accessed 27 September 2009.M. Davis

  20. Based on the article “Why health care won’t reform health,” by Deepak Chopra, it brought up a question that transformed our health care from keeping people healthy to only treating the sickness. Is our health care sick care? I think it is unethical to not put as much emphasis on the quality of life in our people, yet we can spend $900 billion dollars on war. In the first basic point addressed “Prevention, the key to future health, isn’t being followed every year,” does state that the American diet is deteriorating. Since the sugary and fatty foods are cost efficient and highly accessible it makes up a large portion of the average American’s diet having a positive correlation with long-term health problems. My opinion is that since the food in sales is getting worse by substituting cheaper and unhealthy intermediate goods we can’t expect our health problems not to raise. This is why we need more affordable insurance because trying to alter the American diet can be an impossible task but our health should be our number one priority. Brittney S

  21. Erin Sherwood Like many people, I agree that the healthcare system in our country is far from perfect. The general issue with the system always seems to boil down to how involved the government should be in healthcare reform. The problem is, there are many competing interests. Older people want good coverage from medicare, immigrants would benefit from a government run insurance program, and the middle class is simply trying to afford 17,000 dollars a year worth of healthcare costs. In the article “Dallas sees no relief…” it is pretty clear that the healthcare system has become one big manipulative mess. What stood out to me most was the discussion on health insurance companies and patient care. For example, the quote “Many medical organizations, when dealing with health [insurance] plans, are trying to get the most revenue per unit of service, irrespective of quality”. This concept is clearly a problem. Not giving a patient proper care in order to make a profit is something our system is constantly prone to, because there is so much private interest currently invested in the many layers of healthcare. On the other side of the system is doctors themselves. Doctors are under pressure to fulfill multiple private interests including their own because they can’t charge their own price to see a patient and thus have no desire to spend a proper amount of time with each person they treat. They also make good amounts of money advertising pharmaceutical drugs and generally end up overprescribing patients. There is obviously no clear answer for this broken system. I don’t think government should run the entire process, but there needs to be some basic reform for the nation as a whole, especially with health insurance. The fact that most Americans are paying 20 grand for this coverage every year and not getting the proper care they need is something that is only going to get worse if ignored. I believe the most beneficial action to take would be to reduce the amount of big business involved in the system. Health insurance is a company for example, and you would expect it to make some type of revenue, but pulling in billions and then refusing to pay basic consumer health costs causes problems for many people. Providing basic services such as help with obesity, seasonal sicknesses, and other common ailments at a very low cost to the public is something the government could control successfully without ruining the entire structure of private health insurance.

  22. The health care system is definitely “upside down”. The principles of practical economics do not apply to the modern health care system. "We are oriented toward more, rather than better, health care,” said Peter Orszag, the White House budget director. Competition is driving prices up while the quality of care is going down. The cost of health care is spiraling out of control, "In 2020, 41 percent of a family's wage base will likely be set aside for health care," said Princeton health economist Uwe Reinhardt. The moral dilemma of the health care industry that is brought up in Mr. Chopra’s article emphasizes how upside down the system is. Doctors are calling for more unnecessary procedures that drive up patient costs while not actually benefiting the patient, only the doctor and insurance companies checkbooks. While this may not be a direct economic issue, it is a moral problem that affects the economic system of the health care industry. With a government run health care option consumers would be able to choose a more affordable option. This type of competition with insurance companies would force prices down because the government option would be regulated and price controlled.K. Winter

  23. Healthcare in the United States is a tough problem to tackle. With different states each having individual laws, one city such as Dallas citizens are experiencing extremely high prices for basic healthcare, while people in Massachusetts are struggling to even find a doctor. Both of the these examples show that Healthcare in the United States is not operating as a regular free market, and therefore is not adhering to the fundamental laws of supply and demand. At the moment supply for healthcare is not driven by the patients, but by the doctors who use expensive test and procedures to increase their income at the expense of patients (Chopra). The first step forward in healthcare reform is to make doctors accountable for their actions by setting up a system that can regulate or put a budget on doctors that may help patients and healthcare provides pay less (Landers). The second step in my opinion would be to make it mandatory for all Americans to have healthcare. Although Massachusetts has shown that there can be problems with this there is also a lot to be gained from this approach (Sack). The government can set up a public option that will help Americans pay for expensive procedures and tests. This healthcare system can have both public and private plans working as one, promoting competition and better quality healthcare.Matthew Rego

  24. The US health care system is continually one of the most controversial elements of our society. The prices of medical procedures continue to rise and should be regulated through some governmental legislation. At the same rate, it is not the individual surgeons who are placing the costs on their procedures. It is the corporations and the technology fields that are driving up the cost by producing more expensive equipment in hopes to limit the patient doctor interaction in order to increase production in terms of health care (San Francisco Chronicle). The quicker a health care professional can diagnose and prescribe a “necessary test” the more patients he or she can see in a day and ultimately increasing profit. This would be the same economical concept seen in any business world. Therefore, I do not disagree that regulatory measures need to be placed on the cost of health care procedures but these costs are a result of a more complex chain of profit seeking organizations outside of the surgeon or medical professional individually. A universal health care system (Baucus Plan), as desired by the federal government, would result in a decrease in health care costs which would immediately sound appealing to all. This price cut would then lead to an immediate demand increase for common procedures resulting in these previous “common” health care procedures to become long waiting lists of possible participants (New York Times). The amount of money spent by the government to produce health care for all would drive the budget deficit into a deeper whole and in my opinion would result in a more lazy society driving up the unemployment rate. People work to support their daily lifestyles but also work in order to obtain such benefits as health care. Increasing the supply of health care by establishing a government program to distribute such care to all would only inhibit the growth of the country. This would cause simple procedures to become long waiting lists of numbered importance in terms of individual health care emergency which opens a whole different ethical issue that should never be in the hands of the federal government. C. Powles

  25. I believe that the health care system is not really backwards but shifting supply and demand are being driven up by multiple factors outside of the normal supply and demand. The more competition you have would usually drive the prices on the services provided down however those that are getting the health care must be considered. For the average adult the demand and supply for medical care would function normally if not for Medicare. What Medicare does is those elderly insured under it (that are also in need of more medical care) are paid for by the Medicare plan. However the government does not pay the full price for the services that are provided for those covered. This causes the medical providers to lose money unless they find a way to get it somewhere else and thus they raise the price of the services and goods for those not covered under Medicare. Thus because a cost requirement is not being filled regardless of the amount of competitors prices will continue to rise. All that increasing rivalry will do unless Medicare is changed is to slow the rate at which the prices increase in the medical care system. Daniel Travi

  26. The present day healthcare system is currently dealing with pricing issues due to price transparency and rising cost of healthcare. A main issue in the system is that there is no standard price list for doctors' bills or medical procedures. This leaves room for possible fraud from both the doctors and insurance companies. Insurance companies take advantage of the unknown pricing system through compromises. Insurers do not want competitors in the market to know what rates they have negotiated with hospitals and physicians so consumers are unaware of actual cost. Adding to this issue is the dramatic rising of the price for healthcare. Healthcare being a necessity to the majority of the population is always demanded for and supplied. Therefore With such a strong desire for healthcare in the free market we have prices should fall. Unfortunately healthcare prices are rising in part due to expensive procedures and closed negotiations by insurers. The pricing system is also affecting the quality of service. Doctors do not have reason to conduct thorough analyses anymore because they can recommend unnecessary procedures such as x-rays. This cost more for the consumer, while helping raise doctors incomes, and raises healthcare prices.D. Emerson1.http://money.cnn.com/2009/04/22/news/economy/doctors_pricing/index.htm?postversion=20090422052. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/09/14/chopra091409.DTL

  27. The government's role in healthcare is currently a hot topic subject between the two major political parties. It is my belief that it is the government's role to assist the current healthcare system and not to get involved in setting up a single player system where there is any kind of substantial government influence. My reasoning for forming this opinion is my belief in a capitalist market that breeds economic growth through competition. There is a belief by the Republican Party that setting up a government run healthcare system will cause the employers of many current Americans to drop their private insurance coverage and opt for the less-expensive, possibly less inclusive government plan (Cohen). I think that it is also important to listen to the input of our medical professionals when considering changes to their professional. It should be noted that “The American Medical Association said while it believes in health care reform, "the AMA does not believe that creating a public health insurance option … is the best way to expand health insurance coverage." (Cohen). The article goes on to explain how the current medical reimbursement system is outdated and greatly underestimates the growing costs of practicing in the medical field. A government reform that forces doctors to operate at cost or under a net less would spark both a decreasing in practicing medical professionals and generate a discriminatory system where doctors may begin to deny necessary medical coverage to people opting for the government run system. These previously mentioned reasons are why I form my opinion that the current healthcare system is in need of cooperative government assistance that maintains a capitalist healthcare market. Cohen, Elizabeth. "What you need to know about Healthcare reform". June 18, 2009. http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/06/18/ep.health.reform.basics/ Grant Morgan

  28. After reading the article in the San Francisco Chronicle, it has made me think if the government is playing a good role in fixing the health care market. President Obama asked, “Is America a society that squanders $900 billion on a dishonest war but refuses to spend the same amount to give its citizens affordable health care?” This quote makes me realize that currently the government is not fixing the health care market. They are willing to pay a large amount of money for a war that should not even being happening, yet, they cannot make health care affordable. It is very unethical, especially during our current recession. Chopra wrote five valid points that needs to be resolved before the government can fix the current problems with the health care market. I feel Chopra’s first point is the most important point that will help the government. He feels that prevention will help with health problems in the future. Leading causes of bad health — obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes — could be rolled back by sensible prevention guidelines that people simply aren't following. (Chopra) Clearly, if the government sets prevention guidelines, American’s will not have as many health problems in the future. I also agree with the second basic point. Even conscientious doctors who put the patient first are caught in lockstep habits, calling for unnecessary tests because that's what doctors do in this country. (Chopra) Since doctors are doing unnecessary tests on patients just to get money, there are turning the health care market upside down. The supply and demands of the doctors and patients are spiraling out of control. The government needs to change some of their guidelines to help fix the health care market. Clearly, I feel that the government needs to change a lot of their current actions so they can play a good role in fixing the health care market,Chopra, Deepak. "Why health care reform won't reform health." San Francisco Chronicle. 14 Sept. 2009. Web.Allie Birmingham

  29. The near universal coverage in Massachusetts is just a sample of how universal healthcare will play out on a national level. It takes approximately 44 days for new patients to see a family doctor, and now forty percent of these family physicians won’t even accept new patients. Yes, the uninsurance rate is at 2.6 percent in Massachusetts, but that doesn’t mean that the 97.4 percent that are insured have universal access. Dr. Mario Motta, the medical society’s president says, “With our state health reform initiative, we quickly learned that universal coverage doesn’t equate to universal access.” Massachusetts is very small, and the United Stats is very large. If it’s hard to handle on a small level, then how will it be implemented on the national scene? Are we going to have to make the mistake of enabling nationwide universal coverage before we see the shortcomings of an optimistic, but ultimately fatal plan? I hope not. Troy RiemerSource: “With So Many Insured, Finding a Doctor Gets Even Harder in Massachusetts” by Kevin Sack

  30. There are so many options for which way health care reform can go, but for me it all comes down to the money. As horrible and heartless as this makes me sound I want to know where the money is going to come from. From looking at the European system where everyone no mater of circumstance or citizenship can go to a hospital, and get treatment basically for free, does not mean that it is free. The majority of the funding comes from the 17% sales tax on all goods. So that no matter what happens eventually everyone legal, or not, pays for their medical bills. I agree with the idea that everyone should be able to go to a doctor or hospital if need be and not worry about paying for it or the quality of care that they are receiving. But, even if the US was to institute a high sales tax on goods there would have to be restructuring on the current system to handle to influx of people that will result from universal coverage. I am not saying that the government should be the only provider but should supplement for those who are unable to afford coverage under the private sector. Sara Dolinger

  31. The United States health care system is corrupt, or “upside down”. The five concerns addressed in the San Francisco articles are examples and proof to how upside down the health care system really has become. The first sign that health care is upside down the supply and demand curve. In the current health care system with more competition prices of surgeries and tests increase which does not follow the trends in economics. Also, the fact that Americans are not trying to live healthier lifestyles and we are relying on technology as a cure all is evidence that the health care system is corrupt. Chopra’s points together create a very unstable and poor health care system. To fix the system the government should step in by setting limitations, like a price ceiling, on the price that doctors and surgeons can cost.San Francisco ChronicleC.G. Baker

  32. I think that our health care system is upside down. There are many things that could be done to improve current problems. Major problems include how competition increases prices in health care, how health insurance companies have noncompetitive plans, and how doctors get paid based on how many tests they administer. Competition should normally decrease prices, however in the health care industry it is the opposite. Higher costs make health care harder to get for citizens and they also show how the health care industry is poorly structured. The noncompetitive health care plans also show how the industry is poorly crafted. Competitive health insurance prices, unlike the health care industry prices, would help to lower prices and thus make health care easier to obtain for the poor and needy. The payment of doctors based on the number of tests they administer should be stopped, as this encourages them to give out tests that are unnecessary and costly. Doctors should be looking out to help their patients and not just looking to get more money. I think the government could and should do a few things to help this market. They should make a price ceiling on health care prices to make health care more affordable. This would help to stimulate competition amongst health insurance companies. Lastly, they should pay doctors, not based on how many tests they give out, but by a yearly salary. -Patrick Robinson

  33. Obviously, there are many problems with our health care system today, and Deepak Chopra of the San Francisco Times did a good job of outlining the problems not in the spotlight. I think the greatest problem Chopra made was the issue of supply and demand. He mentions how doctors are recommending multiple unnecessary tests for their patients just to raise their own income. From personal experience I can relate to this point; I’ve had multiple doctors tell me to come back for another appointment or to get another test. In reality, I go back for another appointment or take that other test only to find out it was completely pointless. However, the doctors make more money that way and the government needs to take steps to prevent this from happening more often. Kevin Sack from the New York Times also discusses issues related to this. The government in Massachusetts demands that everyone get health insurance, yet the people can’t get an appointment with their doctor for well over a month. Meanwhile, those doctors may not be able to see all those patients because they are too busy with unnecessary tests. If the government is going to create a large demand by requiring people in some states to have health insurance, they better have the supply of doctors to fulfill the needs of the citizens.Michael Warren

  34. In the article by Deepak Chopra, “Why health reform won’t reform health,” he compiles a list of 5 things that must be done before any reforms in the health care system will take place. The one point that comes up in 2 of his 5 requirements is the concept of the “sick-care” system. He says that doctors are trained more to treat people after they are sick rather than to keep them healthy and that they are “strongly tempted to perform needless surgeries” as a way for them to make money but not promote a longer life for their patient (Chopra). I think that our doctors do do a lot to keep their patients healthy and that saying that they only treat and not prevent is too pessimistic of a view on our doctors in America. While there may be those doctors who are drawn to certain surgeries as a way to make money, I believe that most doctors enter that field because they want to help people, not worry about how much tests or surgeries cost. If tax money were more focused on the health care system I think the debate on doctors motives for certain tests and surgeries would be over and the patients could take comfort in knowing that the doctors are truly looking out for their best interest and not just concerned with their own paychecks. -Chopra, Deepak. “Why health care reform won't reform health.” San Francisco Chronicle, September 14, 2009.http://www.sfgate.com/cgibin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/09/14/chopra091409.DTLJ. Lawson

  35. Health care in this country is considered to be “upside down”. According to the Deepak Chopra of the San Francisco Chronicle, there are five keys points that aren’t being addressed. The first key point is how people just don’t know how to take care of themselves. If people weren’t as obese and had healthier habits, there probably would be as high of a need for health care, therefore people wouldn’t have to pay as much in their personal insurance dollars. The second key point that is the supply and demand for doctor care is upside down. (Chopra) Doctors run up false demand and spend millions of dollars for unnecessary tests. Then they blame their patients and claim that the tests were vital therefore creating “demand” that in actuality wasn’t ever there. The third point is since there isn’t any real competition with the health care system, there isn’t any need to lower costs. This actually means that they can cut costs because they’re charging way to high than needed. The fourth point is our health care system doesn’t aim to keeping people healthy. It aims at only treating while sick or dying. If more precautions were taken to keep people healthy, less money would be spent one people become ill. The fifth point is that money isn’t being spent where it needs to be. More money needs to be spent in prevention and on bills that have been passed for prevention that aren’t really being paid attention to. If the government steps in, the action should be limited. There should not be a national health care plan because that would call for a bigger mess than there already is. People that need immediate health care would be put on waiting lists and would not get the attention that they need. If the government steps in, it should be to create illness prevention programs and to educate people instead of paying for a botched free health care system.-Alexandra Smith

  36. The article from the San Francisco Chronicle talks about how the healthcare system, or the “sick-care system,” reflects the attitudes and actions of the American people. Summarized by five main points, the article goes in depth about how the prevention of health care “isn’t being followed enough.” It also brings up the proposal that “doctor care is upside down” meaning doctors are creating a false demand for patients which in turn will increase their income. I believe this is exactly what is happening to our healthcare system and this is why it has become so expensive. The article brings up a great point about how the public education assisted in the prevention of smoking. If this is true, why can’t the government set in the same system with personal healthcare? A change in the healthcare system starts with the change in demand by the patients (us). If we become healthier – through learning more about health issues – there will be less of a demand for medical supplies and diagnostics. As stated by Dr. Andrew Weil, the government must “create incentives and disincentives to encourage more Americans to make healthy lifestyle choices.” This is not the only way to change the corrupt system, but it is classic supply and demand; if the consumer demands a product, the producer will produce it. We are the consumers, so why are the producers creating our demand?http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-weil-md/much-to-like-more-to-come_b_282188.htmlRyan Downs

  37. The health care system in our country can be characterized as an “upside-down” system in the market economy. Health care has turned into a market geared almost entirely away from the people seeking its benefits (sick people.) Doctors and pharmaceutical have full control of what kind of treatment a person receives, how much of that treatment they receive and naturally how expensive it is. Chopra points out in the San Francisco article that “Doctors are creating the demand to cover their backs and increase their income”(Chopra.) Due to the regularity of mal-practice suits, doctors are forced to prescribe billions of dollars worth of unnecessary medical tests to insure that the patient is fully examined. Chopra basically points out that although Obama has a big plan for universal health care, there are very basic things about the general system that need to be addressed before a new system is implemented. The growing rate of malpractice suits has forced doctors to raise medical prices and practice somewhat shady treatment as mentioned in the Landers article involving physical therapy as opposed to surgery. The government in Texas did place a $250,000 cap on malpractice suits but that hasn’t helped doctors enough. A tougher cap and basic faith in our medical professionals could help lower the cost and frequency of unnecessary medical tests. Chopra also emphasizes the fact that most of our health care is for preventable sicknesses such as Type II diabetes. By increasing education and awareness, America could benefit health care simply by keeping people out of hospitals. Before any drastic moves are made towards any type of new health care systems, the government needs to attempt to change the simple factors first. Less money and more common sense should be used to help alter our health care debate.-Gus Cramer

  38. While health care is a pressing issue in itself, the even greater issue fueling this entire conflict is the state of our current economy. Many of the debated solutions that have been presented in recent years would simply build upon our current multibillion dollar deficit. Because of this, our government is trying to find the least expensive and most efficient solutions. The best solution is the one currently in use by Massachusetts. At the moment there are some problems with the system, but lawmakers are already pondering the solutions to the primary care shortage. Some ideas that have been presented include incentives for those who commit to work in the field of most necessity, expanded training, and loan forgiveness to primary care medical students. Yes, it will contribute to the deficit, but it will benefit our society by providing positive long term affects while simultaneously creating more jobs while stimulating the economy. This does not however, address the concept of “backwards supply and demand”. A solution that needs to be considered is that of a type of government approved monopoly, similar to BGE. While competition usually serves as a beneficial part of free market capitalism, it is now only hurting us and bringing down our already failing economy. This way, the government can help regulate affordable prices, but the citizens will still have financial incentive to join the healthcare industry. Over time, the industry can go back to a competitive, free market system, because the economy will no longer be in peril. People will be less likely to act in self interest and scam the patients.E. Parr

  39. I believe that the debate over illegal immigrants receiving health care is just a distraction. With our current system, illegal immigrants are less likely to try to get insurance because they fear discovery by authorities (Star-Telegram). Because of this fear and need to show proper identification and proof that you are a U.S. citizen, illegal immigrants would still be scared even if we changed to a cooperative system. Plus, according to the Star-Telegram, “the remedy of this situation would cost more than the problem, with plenty of collateral damage.” Take this example: in 2007, the Government Accountability Office reported that with “tougher Medicare citizenship-verification rules in six states [it ] cost the federal government an additional $8.3 million—and only netted eight illegal immigrants (Star-Telegram).” It also starts that “Medicare enrollment declined in about half of the 24 states surveyed (Star Telegram),” because of these tougher citizenship-verification rules.Illegal immigrants tend to be “healthier than the U.S. population, incurring than 55 percent lower health care costs (Star-Telegram),” which would not change even if the U.S. changed to a cooperative system. Because the illegal immigrant doesn’t win in either situation, you can see that the illegal immigrant debate over health care is just a distraction and nothing to be debated over.Star-Telegram: “Healthcare proposals don’t change illegal immigrant access.”M. LaRosa

  40. The San-Francisco Chronicle article gives five valid points about the health care system that aren’t being addressed: prevention not being followed, upside-down demand for doctor care, no incentive for insurance companies to lower the cost, and our addiction to the up-and-coming “sick care system” (Chopra). Public opinion hasn’t been surfaced yet; therefore the insurance companies have no reason to want to lower the cost of health care. Doctors aren’t able to reap the rewards that they had in the past, and in the litigious society we live in today, medical professionals are seen as walking lawsuits and are being hurt by the continuous rising of malpractice insurance. In saying that, I think that our incentives are not well-structured—there is a direct relationship between the cost of procedures, income of doctors, and the price of health care. According to the Star-Telegram article, illegal immigrants aren’t as big of a distraction for the health care system as we may think. The article states, “On average, 20 percent of U.S. adults visit an emergency room, compared with 13 percent of noncitizens. Illegal immigrants generally avoid contact with the government and the medical system, fearing discovery.” Still, 13% is a lot of people that are taking advantage of services that hardworking taxpayers are losing. A single payer health care system may seem like a quick fix for some frustrated citizens, but we need to see the fact that there has to be a limit on what doctors prescribe their patients. The government needs to take action, and I agree with a quote from Chopra’s article when he wrote “Without government action, the private sector will push drugs and surgery because prevention doesn't show up as profit on their bottom line.” It won’t be fixed overnight, but realizing our dependence on the “sick-care system” is the first step in finding a solution to the ever-popular health care market topic-Nate Solow

  41. After reading the San Francisco article, it is clear what is wrong with the health-care we have in the United States today. The author, Deepak Chopra, makes the main points transparent with his analysis and references to president Obama’s speech on the care provided for the sick. Chopra discusses five points that are the reasoning behind our “sick-care” system. First, he speaks about the prevention of sickness and how it is not an option in our society because it doesn’t provide enough income for the doctors who constantly demand higher and higher salaries. The next point he makes describes the backward aspects of the supply and demand associated with keeping patients coming back and making unnecessary tests mandatory. The third point references insurance companies and their need to lower costs, but instead attempt to raise corporate income. Then he makes a statement that says doctors are trained to “fix” sick people, but unable to keep already healthy people stay healthy. The final point is one that wraps up the whole reasoning behind the article, prevention of disease and sickness does not show profit and therefore isn’t a main priority. Of these five points Chopra discusses, the one that stood out to me the most was the fourth point. Saying that doctors are not trained to keep people healthy stands out to me because after thinking about these words, I feel Chopra has hit the nail on the head. Many people try to avoid the doctor and only go when they are sick. If they do go for just a check-up, doctors only tell them if something is wrong, and many times do not mention activities and actions that could keep their patients healthy. This may be due to the fact that healthy people bring in almost no money, while sick people are the reason for doctors and their incomes. Much of the money found in the health care system comes from different tests that are made mandatory to sick patients. This made the backward supply and demand claim attached to the health-care system seem true to me. It is wrong because the patients should be creating the demand for doctors and not trying to deal with the artificial demand that the doctors are creating to fulfill their wallets instead of the patients needs. If this was the case, their would be a lot less sick people in our country, and more healthy people that could be aware of what they need to do to keep themselves in a positive bodily state. To quote Chopra, “What should really come first: turning sickness into wellness.”C. Shott

  42. The New York Times Article, “With So Many Now Insured, Finding a Doctor Gets Even Harder in Massachusetts” by Kevin Sack, was primarily about the adverse effects Massachusetts residents have been experiencing; After almost all residents recently became insured, the availability of healthcare providers has decreased, and these newly insured residents have been experiencing a shortage of doctors. “Forty percent of family physicians said they were not accepting new patients, up from 30 percent in 2007. Among internal medicine practitioners, the number had risen to 56 percent from 49 percent” (Sack). Although Massachusetts decreased the rate of uninsurance to about 2.6%, they now are experiencing another consequence, only proving that the government’s health care incentives are not well structured. This is also why the government should not involve themselves that much in healthcare. After reading the San Francisco Chronicle Article, “Why Health Care Reform Won’t Reform Health,” by Deepak Chopra, I do believe that the price system is “upside down” in the health care system; “Supply and demand for doctor care is upside down. Patients aren’t demanding the bulk of the $700 billion in unnecessary tests and procedures performed every year in this country. Doctors are creating the demand to cover their backs and increase their income. Even conscientious doctors who put the patient first are caught in lockstep habits, calling for unnecessary tests because that’s what doctors do in this country” (Chopra).

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