Public Perceptions of Causes of High Health Care Costs

USA Today has run a series of articles on health care costs. Particularly relevant was one that summarized results of a poll done jointly by USA Today, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health of over 1500 adults in the spring of 2005.
The poll asked about the importance of a number of factors as causes of high health care costs. The summary below lists the factors, the percentage saying they were very important, and the percentage saying they were the most important cause of high health care costs (see these results on the web here).

High Profits Made by Drug Companies and Insurance Companies 71%, 37%
Number of Malpractice Lawsuits 58%, 19%
Amount of Greed and Waste in the Health Care System 59%, 15%
Aging of the Population 50%, 8%
Use of Expensive, High-Tech Medical Equipment and Expensive Drugs 46%, 8%
Insured Patients Have Little Incentive to Look for Low-Priced Services 34%, 5%
Doctors Making Too Much Money 31%, 5%

What’s fascinating is that many in the public seem to perceive that the sorts of issues we talk about on Health Care Renewal, e.g., “high profits made by drug companies and insurance companies,” “malpractice lawsuits,” “expensive, high-tech medical equipment and expensive drugs,” and notably “greed and waste,” are important drivers of health care costs. Yet these are not the sort of issues that health care researchers and policy makers tend to talk about.