HEALTH: A Bitter Pill for US. Hospitals

American medicine has been able to compound all manner of miracles, ranging from the creation of powerful antibiotics that can dispatch a brash bacillus to the introduction of death-defying surgical procedures. Yet there is one illness that has baffled U.S. doctors: how to contain sharply rising medical costs, which have climbed from $42 billion to nearly $140 billion (almost twice the inflation rate) in a decade and now total more than the country spends on national defense. One reason for the soaring costs is more sophisticated care, but another is the "third party"...

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