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Poll Finds Americans Blame Insurers, Drug Companies for Rising Health Costs
Date:3/24/2010

charges (51 percent);
  • more tests, treatments and procedures ordered by doctors due to malpractice worries (44 percent);
  • increased drug company spending on marketing and advertising (42 percent);
  • increased demand for health care due to an aging population (41) percent;
  • increased costs of new medical technology, tests and treatments (40 percent).
  • Much lower on the list was increased utilization of medical services (18 percent).

    As for higher insurance premiums, 71 percent blame the insurers, 63 percent blame drug companies, 42 blame hospitals, while 29 percent blame doctors and medical service companies. More than a few blame politicians -- 35 percent say it's Congress' fault, 21 percent blame President Obama and 19 percent blame former President Bush.

    While some health economists take issue with Americans' conclusions about who is to blame, Mark Rukavina, executive director of the Boston-based The Access Project, said insurers shouldn't be let off the hook so easily.

    "There are many factors driving costs, clearly, but the insurers do play a role here," Rukavina said. "They are among the more profitable companies out there."

    Insurers have not been good stewards of premium dollars, wasting too much on administration, being too quick to pass on cost increases in the form of higher deductibles and co-pays instead of managing costs, and offering inferior plans that leave people vulnerable when they do get sick, Rukavina said.

    What is indisputable is that health-care costs are rising much faster than inflation or wages, health economists say, and are gobbling up an ever-growing proportion of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP). Total spending on health care hit about $2.3 trillion in 2008, which translates to $7,681 per person and 16.2 percent of GDP, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Every day, Rukavina,
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