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A. A National Experiment in Health Care

Narrator: : This is Science Today. If you feel a little insecure about your health care coverage, you have good reason. Health economist James Robinson of the University of California, Berkeley says that, due to their high costs, hospitals are no longer at the center of health care. And it's unclear what is.

Robinson: We are engaged in -- we, the United States -- in a large uncontrolled experiment with trying to find incentives to reduce the rate of health care cost growth. It's not a matter of actually reducing costs, but actually just slowing down the rate of growth. And frankly, one way or another, that's going to happen, because the trajectory that we were on was -- especially with an aging population -- was simply unsustainable.

Narrator: : More and more, HMOs are forcing people to seek outpatient care. And Robinson thinks that's not altogether a bad thing.

Robinson: Generally we would like to have health care -- to the extent possible -- done in the community, in doctor's offices, in patient homes, in outpatient surgery facilities, keeping people away from very expensive, very large, very bureaucratic organizations.

Narrator: : For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.