Friday, October 30, 2009

Cut the Health Care Waste!

The cost of health care in our country is exorbitant, and it will probably rise as a result of the new health care legislation that I hope will pass. Covering the uninsured and those with pre-existing conditions is costly - but it is the right thing to do. How then can we reduce the cost? Here are four suggestions.

1. Increase the penalties for health care fraud, and hire a lot more inspectors. I recently read that annual Medicare fraud may cost taxpayers as much as $800 billion dollars. Even if it's only half that number, we could pay 50,000 new inspectors $100,000 each for only $5 billion annually and save a bundle. Catch the crooks put them away for a long time!

2. Bust the professional groups that, in effect, are unions that engage in medical featherbedding.

For example, today I read that the New York governor has issued an "emergency" executive order that will allow Swine flu shots to be administered by dentists, paramedics, pharmacists, and other health care professionals, all of whom need to be specially trained for the job. Perhaps I am missing something, but it seems to me that if a paramedic is already qualified to inject powerful life-saving meds, without supervision, they might be qualified to give a flu shot! Can you believe that a PA can't even give a flu shot under normal conditions? The medical "special interest groups" have far too much power, and their featherbedding adds a lot to the cost of health care.

3. Revisit the paperwork and patient confidentiality rules.

Many of us veterans remember standing in long lines to get rapid-fire innoculations. Hundreds of soldiers got their "shots" in no time. Yet in this "national emergency", the paperwork and "confidentiality" crap associated with giving flu shots make the lines move at a snail's pace. Snail's pace processes are expensive.

HIPPA, a law originally intended to stop insurance companies from misusing health care information, somehow morphed into a law that puts sand in the gears of the entire health care complex. For example, a patient being rushed to the hospital with chest pains has to sign a statement saying he's been told that his patient information will not be mis-used? Are we nuts?

4. Make physicians justify why elderly patients with certain terminal conditions should receive certain very expensive treatments rather than moved to hospice care. It's just silly that we spend an immense fraction of our health care dollars on persons who die shortly afterward of problems previously known to be terminal.

Common sense has been absent in many areas of health care, resulting in increasingly expensive processes for doing simple things and a huge medical fraud industry. Who is tackling these obvious problems? It's time to start complaining, and loudly!

1 comment:

Ron Davison said...

I like these suggestions.
In regards to the guy signing a statement that his information will not be mis-used, Deming used to tell the story of a box on a form for folks entering the US asking, "do you plan to assassinate anyone?"
You sometimes wonder if these things got passed by a group that was just tired and ready to agree to anything in order to leave the office by 6.