by nyceve

The other day, my brother asked me to explain why a simple yearly doctor visit costs $1500?  I started to explain, and he didn’t believe me.  I told him, doctors have to employ armies of people to deal with hundreds of insurance companies, this adds huge and unsustainable costs to our system.   I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it was this bad.

Fasten your seat belts.  And as you read, keep in mind that the Affordable Care Act, has cemented into place this broken and dysfunctional system.  The for profit insurance industry has also taken our country hostage.

It’s all here, in this chart. And tragically the Affordable Care Act cements the for-profit health insurance industry at the heart of our completely broken profit centered health care system.

The way we bring health care costs under control is to remove profit from our health care system, but that won’t happen as long as the political class is bought and sold by the insurance industry.

A new study comparing health care costs in Ontario Canada which has a single payer system to our for-profit system reveals the terrible and unsustainable costs our for-profit healthcare system extract from the U.S. economy.

If there was any serious intent in Washington to bring our deficit under control, the first place one would look would be the for-profit health care system.  This is why what we just witnessed with the debt ceiling fiasco is so troubling, it was depraved Kabuki theater at its most grotesque.

If you want to know why we pay four, five, six times as much for a routine doctor appointment in the United States, look again at the chart.  It’s nauseating. And it’s because our broken and fragmented health care system is being held hostage by the for-profit insurance industry which .

Don’t believe a word I say, but please believe Dean Baker.

The reason that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are projected to “usurp much of the revenue from federal taxes,” is that health care costs in the United States are out of control. If the U.S. paid the same amount per person for health care as any of these other countries it would be looking at huge budget surpluses in the long-term, not deficits.

The survey research reveals that physician practices in the United States incur nearly $83,000 in administrative costs per physician each year, nearly four times the amount spent by their Canadian counterparts. The U.S. could save almost $27.6 billion in annual health spending if administrative costs were similar to those in Canada.

Administrative costs are a major factor in the high cost of health care in America. One significant component is the expense physicians incur when they have to deal with multiple health insurers. In a new Health Affairs study comparing these costs in the U.S. and Canada, Commonwealth Fund–supported researchers show just how much more U.S. practices spend than their counterparts across the border.

Based on survey research, the authors, led by the University of Toronto’s Dante Morra, report that the time and labor spent by U.S. physician practices on filing claims, billing, obtaining prior authorization for patient services, and dealing with pharmaceutical formularies amounts to at least $82,975 per physician annually. That figure dwarfs the $22,205 spent by practices in Ontario, which operates within Canada’s predominantly single-payer health system.

Commenting on the new study, Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis cited an inefficient and fragmented insurance system as a contributor to high costs in the U.S. “Greater continuity of insurance coverage and administrative simplification reforms in the Affordable Care Act can begin to streamline health care administration and reduce the time medical staff must spend on billing and authorization issues,” she said.

The authors of the study estimate total savings of about $27.6 billion per year if U.S. physician practices had administrative costs similar to those in Ontario.

Our country is in free fall, we have 55 million without access to health care and those of us still hanging on to our junk insurance are hostage to a government bought and paid for by the health insurance industry.

Nyceve is a board member for California OneCare. Originally posted at the Daily Kos.