AddThis Feed Button "Frequently Copied, Never Duplicated"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Health Insurance Rewards More for Procedures Than Real Care

Are you wondering why Congress blocked Medicare reimbursements?

I thought this was quite a good report on the current state of health care.  The problem as I see it is that this mentality has been the mainstay of Medicare and Big Insurance since the "managed care" movement moved in with gusto in the 80s.

I just hop my readers will take heed and realize this is what you are up against in regard to REAL health care reform.
It was a case study in what primary-care doctors have long bemoaned: that Medicare rewards doctors far better for doing procedures than for assessing whether they should be done at all. The incentives for overtreatment continue, said Dr. Ted Epperly, the board chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians, because those who profit from them — specialists, hospitals, drug companies and the medical-device manufacturers — spend money lobbying Congress and the public to keep it that way.

Last year, doctors, hospitals, drug companies, medical-equipment manufacturers and other medical professionals spent $545 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. This may help explain why researchers estimate that 20 to 30 percent of Medicare’s $510 billion budget goes for unnecessary tests and treatment. Why cost-containment received short shrift in health care reform. Why physicians like Fales net an average of $173,000 a year, while noninvasive cardiologists like Rogan net about $419,000.

The system rewarded nobody for saying “no” or even “wait” — not even my frugal, intelligent, Consumer-Reports-reading mother. Medicare and supplemental insurance covered almost every penny of my father’s pacemaker. My mother was given more government-mandated consumer information when she bought a new Camry a year later.

And so my father’s electronically managed heart — now requiring frequent monitoring, paid by Medicare — became part of the $24 billion worldwide cardiac-device industry and an indirect subsidizer of the fiscal health of American hospitals. The profit margins that manufacturers earn on cardiac devices is close to 30 percent. Cardiac procedures and diagnostics generate about 20 percent of hospital revenues and 30 percent of profits.

According to an analysis by the Dartmouth Atlas medical-research group, patients are far more likely than their doctors to reject aggressive treatments when fully informed of pros, cons and alternatives — information, one study suggests, that nearly half of patients say they don’t get. And although many doctors assume that people want to extend their lives, many do not. In a 1997 study in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 30 percent of seriously ill people surveyed in a hospital said they would “rather die” than live permanently in a nursing home. In a 2008 study in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 28 percent of patients with advanced heart failure said they would trade one day of excellent health for another two years in their current state.

Complete article:

No comments: