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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press WSJ Mixes Data With Invented Story Lines When It Comes to Health Care

WSJ Mixes Data With Invented Story Lines When It Comes to Health Care

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Wednesday, 13 April 2011 06:57

The WSJ had a nice piece showing that United States pays far more per person for health care than other wealthy countries, even though they all enjoy longer life expectancies than we do. After presenting the data, the article then tells readers:

"Among the things that do matter [for controlling costs]: Consumers need to have some skin in the game, through mechanisms such as co-payments."

Actually, in most, if not all, of the countries in the WSJ chart, patients typically have lower co-payments/cost-sharing than is the norm in the United States. This would not seem to be an essential part of controlling costs.

Comments (6)Add Comment
"skin in the game"
written by Tom Allen, April 13, 2011 7:40
Whenever I hear that consumers need to have "skin in the game", I read that as demanding from us a pound of flesh.
...
written by foosion, April 13, 2011 8:47
The entire notion that consumers can intelligently shop for healthcare is insane. So is the notion that co-pays stop people from going to the doctor too often (does anyone really like going to the doctor, even if it's free).

Consumers don't have the expertise.

Co-pays often result in people not going to doctors unless things are really bad. Waiting until things are really bad greatly increases the cost of fixing the problem. Penny wise and pound foolish.

A lot of the most expensive care is emergency care. No ability to comparison shop at that point. Co-payments would have no effect on behavior.
Health Care is a Veblen Good Under Skin Game Theory
written by izzatzo, April 13, 2011 9:46
Health care is like education. It has an upsloping demand curve. Quantity demanded increases as price increases to put more skin in the game by definition as players outskin each other. Read Thorstein Veblen.
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written by joe, April 13, 2011 10:25
The "skin in the game" argument is a good example of stealth PR for health insurance companies. Check out "Deadly Spin" by Wendell Potter. Suckering chumps into accepting a larger co-pay is the goal.
"skin in the game"
written by pfc, April 13, 2011 11:22
"Consumers need to have some skin in the game"

Good lord, is there any place where I have more skin in the game than in my health care? Literally.
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written by urban legend, April 14, 2011 12:48
The 'skin-in-the-game" charlatans should be skinned alive. It is a stupid notion. I have skin in the game: I'd rather avoid the doctors' office as much as possible. There's 10 of me -- and, yes, I do make my annual visit and blood test, so I try not to procrastinate and let conditions get worse -- to every one of the imagined needy seniors who demands inordinate attention from the doctor.

Proof? The other countries are proof.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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