Friday, March 27, 2009

Why Does YOUR Health Care Cost So Much?
Is a little tort reform asking too much?

I've been hearing it for decades now -- Health Care Reform. Hey, want REAL reform? Begin by telling the bottom-feeding ambulance chasers to go to hell.

By the way, want to see a real shocker? Click here for the Trial Lawyer Contribution List, 1999 to Present. To make things even more interesting, don't forget to search your own zip code (upper left corner).

Anyhow, let's get real... doctors are businessmen. If the cost of keeping us alive gets artificially jacked-up, take a wild guess as to who the cost is passed on to. Not too hard to figured out, huh?

Anyhow, here are a few snippets that better illustrate what I'm getting at, starting with some of this article from the NY Post; Although [Dr. James] Reilly has never had a lawsuit, he said he has watched his annual insurance premiums more than double, from $80,000 to $163,000, over the last 13 years. "I love this profession, but the finances are making it difficult," he said.Then there's this from JPANDS.org (Journal of the American Physicians and Surgeons); Thanks to skyrocketing jury awards, New Jersey hospitals have seen malpractice insurance premiums jump 250 percent over the past three years."Lastly, this from the NY Times; ...over a lifetime a plumber has a higher standard of living than a physician with a general practice because the doctor starts earning later, pays higher taxes and high malpractice insurance premiums.

6 Comments:

Blogger Adeodatus49 said...

Yep! It's those damned lawyers. I'm married to a lawyer. After all, every family ought to have its own shark! LOL

BTW, my wife hates lawyers.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Greta said...

No fan of lawyers by any stretch. However, having been in healthcare for over 40 years, the biggest factor in costs have been the involvement of the federal and state governments.

In the early 1950's there was wage and price controls put on to fight inflation after WWII. Result was that unions pushed for the employer to pick up health insurance and it became the thing for employers to do. Was really cheap at the time. doc office vist if you ran it up was under 15$. Hospitals had no high tech stuff and things like having a baby was less than $100 even if you had a few issues.

LBJ started to bring in Medicare, and Medicaid followed as did a number of other government programs. When Medicare came in, they brought with them reams of regulations and control on pricing. The set up something called Usual and Customary. That means if a Primary Care do is charging 5$ for an office visit, that was the U&C. to placate the docs, they allowed them a bump of about 20% which took it to 6-7$. For a short time, there was no big issue and healthcare went along fine. But U&C would become an issue when the first technology started to show up. With this method, if something did not exist, the provider established the charge. So a CT scan could charge say 900 per exam or more. A new surgery technique could charge $3200 dollars. The age of specialist had begun and this funded amazing new technology and the $2-3 million dollar sales.

The ownership of these new technology items were also huge moneymakers so you had docs who owned the products also referring patients for their use. When this was stopped after several years, you still had the owner wanting to have butts in the beds and the scanners. So if you hold down the number of those docs who might treat people and send them home without a bunch of tests or made them so busy they do not have time to treat, you get sick people in your products and services. Proof of this is that counties with more primary care docs have lower costs and places that lack the high tech stuff have lower costs.

Everyone made out well except the primary care doc who was stuck with that $7 visit. Over the years, with increases, this went up to where we are today of about $100 a visit. But it also came with regulations like HIPPA and audits and tracking and a host of other things. The doc that use to have 1-2 staff now nees to have 4-5 staff per doctor.
Also with the increased deep pockets came the lawyers.

That is what makes healthcare reform so tough. When you change anything, you gut someones income and each of the stakeholders have power. The guys on the sidelines are the patients. But they too play a part. Most do not question a test or even the cost if someone else is paying for it. Some have said that if the employer were paying for whatever car you wanted or for all of your grocery bill, we would all have luxury cars and eat filet Mignon every night and both would cost about 100 times more than they do today.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Adeodatus49 said...

Medically related tort claims are also way out of line, thanks to lawyers.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Greta said...

In the total picture, tort claims are close to zero of the cause of healthcare costs going up. Every study has shown this to be true. When you are dealing with annual spending of 2.3 trillion dollars, even what appears to be large claims has little impact. It is noted that when technology is purchased for millions of dollars, it is used and technology drives the higher costs. If you live in a town with some of the higher cost technology, they use it more over far less costly alternatives. Cincinnati Ohio in a radius of two hour drive has Columbus, Louisville, Dayton, Lexington, and Indianapolis. You could take the top 10 revenue items for specific diagnosis and you will find the treatment is different and there are radical different costs within this small circle. Often there is little evidence of benefit. Much of it is marketing to the doctors and patients in a given area.

Surprisingly, drug costs are also exagerated wildly as to their total cost in healthcare because many of them keep patients stable and thus not using a lot of this high cost healthcare.

Reform is no easy task and the crowd now attempting it will fail misserably because their goal is to cover everyone and spend less which is only possilbe with extreme rationing and everyone knows it.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Greata,
Well thought through post loaded with factual information.

And I'm still sure that hundreds of thousands of dollars in malparactice insurance (thanks to the TLA) is jacking up the costs as well.

6:07 AM  
Blogger Adeodatus49 said...

Greta,

If I would summarize what you have written--please excuse the oversimplification--I would say that medical costs are high because of poor business practices by the entire medical profession--medicos and administrators.

11:43 AM  

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