A lot of the money goes more toward fattening middlemen's bottom lines than toward improving the quality or efficiency of American health care. 'At the end of the day, the only reasonable conclusion is that we waste a huge amount of money on the most nuttily cumbersome administrative system in the world,' says Henry Aaron, a Brookings Institution economist.
While the middleman business booms, health-care costs keep rising, the ranks of the uninsured grow, and paperwork expands as each party in the system tries to enlarge its slice of the pie. 'There's more money to be made by monitoring cash flow than monitoring patients,' says David Cutler, a prominent Harvard University health economist.
And here are the statistics. According to the article, the majority of people who work in doctors' offices, 1.8 million out of 3.3 million, do so in non clinical jobs. Nearly a majority of people who work in hospitals, 2.3 out of 5.5 million, do so in non clinical jobs. So currently almost 50% of people who work in what appear to be the most clinical settings are not doing clinical work.
Health care has been taken over by clerks, bureaucrats, and managers.
This appears to be the fruit of the movement began in the 1980's to break the medical "guild," which some economists held responsible for the high cost of health care (see post here).
The results has been even more rapidly increasing health care costs, decreasing access, stagnant quality, and of course, dispirted professionals tired of contending with myriad clerks, bureaucrats, and managers, most of whom do not seem to understand health care or believe in its values.
And this horrendously complex, bureaucratic non-system is a fertile breeding ground for the conflicts of interest and outright criminality we discuss so often on Health Care Renewal.
Some happy new year to us from the WSJ.