Patients may sometimes be inclined to look at a medical bill and envision their doctor sliding behind the wheel of their brand-new Bentley at the end of a shift. We know that’s not exactly how it works, but now a new study in Health Affairs presents an academic approach to quantifying that fact. It suggests the growth in private insurance costs lies more with hospital prices than it does the cost of the physician’s time. From 2007 to 2014, according to the study, hospital prices grew much faster than physician prices. One indicator is that the cost of inpatient care grew 42% over that time period, compared with 18% growth in physician costs. On the outpatient side, hospital costs rose 25%, compared with 6% growth in physician costs in that setting. The authors suggest that regulators looking to stem runaway costs focus more on the prospective economic effects of ongoing merger mania among health systems, rather than looking at regulating physician prices.
Don’t Blame Doctors for Driving Up Healthcare Costs