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Why Is Healthcare So Expensive? Blame The Lobbyists

American healthcare is ridiculously expensive. I even wrote a book recently laying out a host of reasons for such high prices, such as the historical connection between insurance and hospitals, the lack of price transparency, and the belated involvement of our federal government in healthcare policies.


But mainly it comes down to the power of hospitals, physicians, and the rest of the healthcare industry to co-opt almost a fifth of our economy. Recent data on healthcare lobbying perfectly illustrates just how much power I’m talking about.

The data comes from an article in JAMA Internal Medicine written by Olivier Wouters, a London-based researcher who I have to imagine is bewildered by the insane cost of American medical care.

Based on his article, 4 of the top 7 industry lobbyists in the United States come from healthcare. They include the following healthcare lobbying groups:


  • The American Medical Association, AMA (#3)

  • The American Hospital Association, AHA (#4)

  • PhRMA, the main pharmaceutical lobbying organization (#6)

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Association of America (#7)


The amount of pharmaceutical lobbying rose dramatically before the passage of Obamacare, and appears to be rising again, amidst concerns that the government will address rising drug prices:

Pharmaceutical lobbying rose dramatically in the United States before the passage of Obamacare, and ... [+] JAMA INTERNAL MEDICINE


More targeted lobbying increases occurred in association with state efforts to address high prices. Here’s a picture of pharmaceutical lobbying in California, which spiked twice in reaction to pending legislation:

Pharmaceutical lobbying in California spiked twice in reaction to pending legislation.

JAMA INTERNAL MEDICINE


Democracies have a difficult time overcoming concentrated power. We all suffer from high healthcare prices in the US. But the healthcare industry really suffers if politicians combat those prices, so they urgently lobby the government, pouring enormous sums of money into the re-election campaigns of legislators who protect their interests.

It’s time to demand reform. It’s time to vote out politicians who don’t tackle the high price of American medical care.


Article originally published: https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterubel/2021/04/09/why-is-healthcare-so-expensive-blame-the-lobbyists/?sh=4797e8732e71




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