Healthcare: Where the Money Goes

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Why does healthcare cost so much in the U.S.? Well, we typically rely less on hospital care and more on outpatient care than most countries, so you might expect that we pay less for hospital care and more for outpatient care. But you’d only be half right. Even though we use less hospital care we still pay more for it than most countries. And since we use more outpatient care we pay a lot more for it:

The fact that we’re spending so much on outpatient care isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Same day surgery does cost less in general that longer inpatient stays. But it’s undeniable that the incentives in the system to financially reward quicker and less invasive procedures have increased their use. The financial rewards are much more for outpatient than inpatient care, and the fee-for-service mechanisms of the US encourage the use of more care.

….So here’s our first bit of depressing news. The single biggest contributor to the money we’re spending that’s “extra” is for medical care. It’s not a company or a crook. It’s for actual stuff that we seem to value. I will get into some of the specifics of this in future posts, but the bottom line is that when we talk about cutting spending, we will need to talk about reducing this amount. Especially since, if we were spending so much on care, we should expect to see impressive returns in quality (which we don’t).

The introduction to Aaron’s series on the cost of medical care is here, including links to each post in the series. It’ll be finished up on October 1.

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what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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