Health Insurance Costs

May 28, 1958

Report Outline
Medical Costs and Health Insurance
Practices Contributing to High Costs
Action to Cut Health Insurance Costs

Medical Costs and Health Insurance

Rising Costs as Threat to Voluntary Plans

The rising cost of medical care is pushing up health insurance premiums and putting the voluntary prepayment system to its severest test since initiation of Blue Cross hospitalization plans a quarter-century ago. Hospital operating expenses have been soaring, doctors' fees have been mounting, and medical science has been developing a constantly expanding array of expensive drugs and costly diagnostic and treatment procedures. Caught in the middle, voluntary health insurance appears to be confronted with two undesirable alternatives: Either it must cut back its policy benefits in the face of a demand for more benefits, or it must raise its premiums and run the risk of pricing itself out of the market.

With three-fourths of the population now able to depend on health insurance benefits to defray some portion of hospital or other medical expenses, the United States has advanced a long way toward the goal of assuring everyone adequate medical attention when needed. If progress of the voluntary prepayment plans should be halted or reversed, compulsory tax-supported health insurance no doubt would be revived as a political issue.

The financial crisis facing health insurance has sparked a number of investigations by state, professional, and insurance agencies to determine whether today's heavy costs are in all respects unavoidable. Charges and countercharges concerning cost-increasing factors range from inefficient hospital management to fee-padding by doctors. Airing of such complaints has heightened efforts by organized medicine to guard against intrusion of “third-party medicine” into areas considered the sole province of the medical profession.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Health Insurance
Oct. 23, 2020  The U.S. Health Insurance System
Oct. 18, 2019  Health Care Debates
Sep. 21, 2012  Assessing the New Health Care Law
Jun. 11, 2010  Health-Care Reform Updated
Aug. 28, 2009  Health-Care Reform
Mar. 30, 2007  Universal Coverage
Jun. 14, 2002  Covering the Uninsured
Apr. 16, 1999  Managing Managed Care
Apr. 12, 1996  Managed Care
Mar. 17, 1995  Primary Care
Nov. 23, 1990  Setting Limits on Medical Care
Oct. 14, 1988  The Failure to Contain Medical Costs
Aug. 10, 1984  Health Care: Pressure for Change
Apr. 08, 1983  Rising Cost of Health Care
Jan. 28, 1977  Controlling Health Costs
Aug. 09, 1974  Health Maintenance Organizations
Jun. 13, 1973  Health Care in Britain and America
Jan. 18, 1970  Future of Health Insurance
Jun. 20, 1962  Health Care Plans and Medical Practice
May 28, 1958  Health Insurance Costs
Feb. 17, 1954  Government Aid for Health Plans
Nov. 22, 1949  Compensation for Disability
Aug. 30, 1946  Public Medical Care
Jan. 25, 1944  Medical Insurance
Sep. 16, 1938  Health Insurance in Foreign Countries
Mar. 06, 1937  Toward Health Insurance
Jul. 09, 1934  Sickness Insurance and Group Hospitalization
Health Insurance and Managed Care
Insurance Industry