Are there serious flaws in the approach Congress is taking on health care? Business Week estimates that some $700 billion of heath care costs each year are wasted and believes the current reform bills don’t address this problem. They state that a new Thomson Reuters (TRI) report finds that:
A sum equal to roughly one-third of the nation’s total health-care spending is flushed away on unnecessary treatments, redundant tests, fraud, errors, and myriad other monetary sinkholes that do nothing to improve the nation’s health. Cut that figure by half, and there would be more than enough money to offer top-notch care to every one of America’s 46 million uninsured.
The Business Week article attributes the $700 billion wasted as being the result primarily of the fee-for-service system that pays hospitals and doctors based on the quantity of medical services provided, rather than on the quality of care. Without fixing this flaw in the way we provide medical care, the article states health care costs over the next 10 years will double to some $5.2 trillion per year or about 21% of the nation’s gross domestic product.
What is interesting about the article is that it is not against health care reform; in fact it’s emphasis is on ideas that can be implemented now by the medical profession without legislation being required. A number of these ideas are ones that consumers and patients and the medical profession should be demanding that action be taken on because it is absurd that we have a health care system that is dysfunctional and outrageously expensive compared to that of other industrialized nations in the world.
Here is a list of their 10 ideas to cut health care costs now:
1.Crack down on fraud and abuse
2. Develop a healthy workforce
3. Coordinate care through family doctors
4. Make health a community effort
5. Stop infections in hospitals
6. Get patients to take their medicine
7. Discuss options near the end of life
8. Use insurance to manage chronic disease
9. Let well-informed patients decide
10. Apologize to the patient.