"Other affluent nations such as Canada, France and other European countries treat health care as a public good; they have nonprofit, national health insurance," Woolhandler added. "People in those countries live longer than Americans and spend only about half as much for health care."
Greg Scandlen, founder of Consumers for Health Care Choices, said the report correctly identifies the problem areas in health-care costs. However, he thinks the solution is to make consumers pay for their own health care through health savings accounts (HSAs) or other consumer-driven health-care plans.
"It is a lot more efficient to pay cash at the time of service then to process it through some insurance mechanism," Scandlen said. "You can get a dollar's worth of care for a dollar by paying at the time of service."
Scandlen thinks that giving people control over their health-care dollars helps consumers make better choices with medications and procedures, particularly when the money is coming out of their own pocket.
For more on health-care costs, visit the U.S. PIRG.
SOURCES: Larry C. McNeely II, Health Care Advocate, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), Washington, D.C.; Greg Scandlen, founder, Consumers for Health Care Choices, Hagerstown, Md.; Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Jan. 28, 2009, report, Health Care in Crisis: How Special Interests Could Double Health Costs and How We Can Stop It