Health care: why is it so expensive, anyway?

For various reasons, health care issues are seldom far from the front of my mind these days. There’s some good stuff in the “Affordable Care Act” that was passed earlier this year, but implementation takes place from now until 2014, and I’m skeptical that the measures will do much for cost control. Even if they do, ACA doesn’t do much of anything to fix some of the fundamental flaws in our health care system.
So why the heck are insurance premiums rising so much? The problem, as some medical types would put it, is multi-factorial. This isn’t really my area of expertise, either, but I’m trying to piece together some understanding. As I run across info, I’ll post here and ruminate a bit.
This article on the Washington Monthly’s website caught my attention this week. It describes the workings of Group Purchase Organizations (GPOs), and how the unintended consequences of some well-intentioned changes in regulation resulted in GPOs raising the cost of hospital supplies and reducing competition among suppliers. I suspect that at least one of the 2.5 people who will read this might know a whole lot more about GPOs than I do, so I invite comments with counterpoint.
I don’t mean to imply that GPOs are the biggest problem in health care. This is just a reminder that health care is a business and the profit motive is as alive here as it is in any other industry. That’s not necessarily all bad, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves that health care as a business has some moral imperative that insulates it from selfish behavior.