RE: Obese man wins $350,000 payout from GP
Very interesting S, and most informative, but I am not sure that it is altogether true, although hardly false. The problem is that it doesn't explain the cost of healthcare in other countries very well. Many of the costs are comparable, and it is not because the other countries look to the US as a model for pricing - that is something we really don't do. What I can tell you is that we are very much aware of the costs of various things, but some things are expensive no matter what you like, simply because the manufacturer has set a price and we have to pay it - there is a good reason why we charge around SFR700 for an MRI - the equipment costs a nice bit over a million dollars, the room it goes into has to be specially rebuilt to house the unit and contain the electromagnetic field, the technicians get paid per hour, not patient, and are on a regular salary, as are the diagnostic radiologists who interpret the results, etc, etc, etc - as you can see, that adds up real fast, and just about when you have paid off the original machine, it is close to scrap and it is time to buy a new one.
Because of this, when the technology was introduced, the governmental department that oversees health had to be approached for approval of a payment model and the latitude we could charge in this, and once that price was set, we were stuck with it, more or less. Now, with the exception of going to government to get approval as to how much we should charge, the experience in the US isn't that much different, and when I was last in the States on a conference (admittedly a few years back) I found that the charges were broadly comparable to ours. So were several standard surgical charges.
I don't think the manufacturers should charge so much for their equipment, but they do, as do the drug companies. And I don't think it is fair that we pay a higher price in Switzerland for the same drugs than across the border in Germany, but that is the choice of the manufacturer, who believes that the Swiss can be gouged without complaint. But I do know that over here, we have very few rich doctors - it is a decent living, but you rarely get rich off of it. The fact that setting up a practice can easily cost a million pretty much prevents getting filthy rich off of it.
As for the insurance companies, well, we can go on all night trading horror stories about the abuse of insurance companies. I am certain that there is definite abuse going on there.