More thoughts on what’s driving up health care costs: New technologies improve medical care but also drive up the cost of care giving. For example, in what has become known as a “medical arms race,” many medical practices invest in expensive imaging machines, and once a group owns one, there is a natural tendency to use it more rather than refer patients to lower-cost facilities designed to conduct these tests.
I’ve now identified three trends raising the cost of health care: unhealthy living, the economy and how expensive medical technology is used. The economy should eventually take care of itself. But addressing unhealthy lifestyles and the inappropriate use of medical technology will require large numbers of people and organizations to change engrained habits and usage patterns. It’s important that health care reform provides incentives for that to happen.