Licensed to Ill
Commentary: Increasingly, drug companies aren't just selling cures. They're also marketing disease.
By Bradford Plumer
One of the biggest concerns in the United States today is that health care costs keep accelerating upwards, growing faster than inflation, faster than our paychecks. But no one seems to be able to agree on why, exactly, costs are climbing so rapidly. About a decade ago Paul Krugman argued, quite convincingly, that health care keeps getting more expensive simply because Americans keep demanding the latest and most expensive treatments, and are prepared to pay good money to get it—well, some of them, at least. As such, rising health care costs per se are nothing to fret over: modern medicine keeps getting better and we should expect to pay more for it.
Fair enough, but here's an alternate theory: health costs are zooming upwards in part because millions of more-or-less healthy Americans are being misled into thinking that they actually have diseases and disorders that require expensive medical treatment.