April 17, 2013
My daughter Rebecca is responsible for this part of my blog. She is presently a grad student attending college to become a Physicians Assistant. As part of her coursework, she was required to write a paper on the cost of healthcare using a Time Magazine article as reference. She showed me the paper and I reviewed the article. The article focused primarily on hospital charges and how inflated they appeared. Here is a link to the article for Time subscribers. If you Google the article, you may also find the article in unlocked versions.
Here are a few of Rebecca's observations:
"One of the other most apparent included the outrageous mark up on individual miscellaneous items being utilized every second around the clock in healthcare. For example, a hospital patient was charged $1.50 for one tablet of Acetaminophen when in a store, one can buy 100 tablets for $1.49 or a charge of $84.00 for one saline bag versus $5.16. Not only were the mark ups on pricing absurd but from what the article concluded there was no justifiable reasoning behind the substantial increase in pricing other than a business oriented/profiteering mindset."
"From the view point of both a patient and someone who in the future will be providing health care, I fear that health care providers, i.e. doctors, PA’s and NP’s will become (or already are) the scapegoat of outrageous health care costs...However, as providers, we are usually not in a position to be determining prices for our patient’s healthcare...patients who do not fully understand the system will find it easiest to blame medical providers"
"as advocates for our patient’s health, we should also assume the role in ensuring the costs of health care are not hindering our patients from seeking it."
Becca goes on to say that healthcare is a business and that the stakeholders need to work at reforming it. I agree completely.
Here are my comments and observations...
"Competition drives down prices. As long as hospitals are all busy and the service is obviously not something “optional” to the patient, there will be no competitive reason to change the pricing structure. One option is to build more hospitals. To fill empty beds, the operators might need to give better pricing, both to individuals and insurance companies. The Obamacare free healthcare mandate will kill this idea and any competitive reason to cut charges, since no matter what the cost, it will be paid and the individual won’t have a reason to shop around. If Obamacare can force a reasonable pricing structure onto the issues talked about in the article, it will help. The only other option I see is the force of public opinion. If hospitals see protestors in the street outside their doors, maybe that will change things. The magazine article is an example of a version of the last idea. PA’s (at risk of job loss and industry alienation) could assist in either of the last two ideas."
One of the problems is that many people on public assistance abuse the system. Becca witnessed this first hand with people calling for an ambulance to transport them to the Emergency Room at a hospital for something that could easily be treated by a Primary Care Physician. A group in Camden, New Jersey found a partial solution to the problem. Instead of insurers and taxpayers subsidizing the unnecessary emergency room visits, they made a clinic in one of the housing areas where the abuse was the worst. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/04/03/176020285/in-south-jersey-new-options-for-primary-care-are-slow-to-take-hold Read and listen to the report and see what you think. Although it still needs to be subsidized, this concept will help save money in hospital costs.
Stats Of Hits