Sunday, June 21, 2009

How to save money on health care

There is a good article in the New Yorker on why health care is so expensive. It's not the insurance, it's the way doctors order too many tests and procedures. It's like working on the reference desk at a public library. The student has to do a paper on a rather vague topic and needs thousands of books and articles from the library. The librarian finds lots of stuff to give the patron. Book titles, reference books to be copies, websites, articles from Ebscohost. The librarian knows that if he gives the patron enough stuff he can get rid of the person and move onto the next patron in the line.

The doctor is running late and has ten minutes to deal with a patient with a series of unrelated ailments. The easy way of getting rid of the person is to order lots of tests. A battery of blood tests, barium tests, ekg's, etc. will keep the patient busy and maybe the tests will show something the doctor can use. The patient is happy because he can manipulate the tests into a day off from work and the insurance company will pay for the procedures. The doctor is happy because he can move onto the next patient in the waiting room.

It's faster for the doctor and librarians in our scenario to give the client stuff to do than do a detailed examination of the body or the school assignment. The solution to the health care cunundrum? Limit tests to ten a year, with one allowable operation.

A one payer system would be fairer to all. People could switch jobs and not be tied down because of health insurance. Everybody would have health insurance, but, like in Europe, medicine would be rationed. And Medicare should end at age 85. Sorry Grandma. Crisis with health insurance? Solved.

1 comment:

  1. I guess there is not a long lifespan in your family, with your attitude... perhaps not a bad thing.