While reading the April 26th Columbus (Ohio, USA) Dispatch op-ed column “Sweden weathered a storm, and it’s doing just fine now” by the Washington Post’s Robert J. Samuelson, I was dumbfounded by his comment that Sweden has relied on higher patient co-payments to discourage people from overusing health care services. So many Swedes were going to the doctor when they weren’t sick was the primary cause of that country’s runaway health care costs? Really?
I do not know about most people, but as a middle-aged man the only time I go to my doctors are routine bi-annual visits to get refills for my life-saving meds. I do not know of any person who schedules a doctor’s appointment without just cause. Granted, health care costs have risen drastically the past several decades but I seriously doubt that the reason is due to people overusing their benefits. Most likely, the real culprit is runaway health care fees for doctor visits, tests and prescriptions.
A large part of the problem is that it seems most hospitals now days are for-profit. Another cause centers on the fact that many of the clinics that patients are referred to for various tests are owned by the very doctors that are sending their patients to. Then there is the pharmaceutical industry, which is the most profitable industry in America. And remember, President George W. Bush made it a law that the U.S. Department of Human Services cannot bargain with Big Pharma over the price of the meds it buys.
Our television airwaves are saturated with commercials for pharmaceuticals, most of which it seems are for Viagra or some other erectile dysfunction drug. If anyone is overusing health care services, it is all those old men getting their sex-inducing drugs just so they can have intercourse all night long. Charging people a higher fee to visit their doctor would result in many people being unable to pay their co-pay for an office visit when they are sick. Other than an occasional hypochondriac, I seriously doubt that there are large numbers of people who visit their doctor when they have no need to do so.
Steven H. Spring