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Assigning Culpability for the High Cost of Healthcare

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Pharmaceutical companies should conclude their prayers each night by saying, "And God bless the insurance companies for being even more unpopular than we are." That's one inference to be drawn, anyhow, from a Harris Poll conducted in October that invited people to pick a villain behind the rise in healthcare costs. Asked to pick the entity they consider most responsible for the rising cost of healthcare, a large plurality of respondents (41 percent) blamed insurance companies.

Pharmaceutical companies tied with the government for runner-up, at 16 percent of the mentions. Six percent of respondents put primary blame on hospitals and 4 percent on doctors. The rest picked some other culprit or declined to answer.

When the same poll asked its respondents to pick between two healthcare priorities, "basic health insurance for people who are uninsured" won far more support than "better health-plan benefits for those with insurance" (67 percent vs. 18 percent, with the rest unsure).