Over the past 30 years one of the biggest issues policy-makers have been wrestling with is the issue of health care costs and health care access. Policy-makers have been gradually expanding access to health care starting with medicare and medicaid adding on medicare coverage of drugs, medicaid expansions by state and medicaid expansions for children. But even more prominent has been the emphasis on reducing healthcare costs. Over the years, cost-saving institutions such as HMOs have sprung up and the new health care law encourage competitive exchanges and evidence-based medicine as strategies to reduce costs.
Health care cost inflation pales in comparison with the cost of higher education. Between 1978 and 2008, tuition has increased 9 fold while medical costs have risen 6-fold and inflation has tripled.
The cost of college dwarfs all costs including oil over the past 34 years. The last four years have made it worst as the recession has slowed medical inflation and the CPI but tuition has continued to sky-rocket as lawmakers push even more college costs off taxpayers onto students.
Health care policy started out much like higher education with little or no emphasis on cost. Doctors were beyond reproach and meddling in the work of medical industries was playing with human lives. But then along came evidence-based medicine which not only began to question to the efficiency of medical procedures but their efficacy as well. Higher costs procedures were often found to be worst for patient health.
Up till now, higher education has dodged the conversation on both costs and outcomes. Isn't it about time we started thinking about it? Are the only options cutting instruction and dumping more costs on students?