The conversation is heating up on health care reform. We'll be hearing lots of industry jargon in the next few months, especially about the so-called "public option." It will be difficult to stay on top of it all.
This recent article from the New Yorker is a good primer on how soaring health care costs are at the heart of the debate. The author, Atul Gawande, suggests that providers have undergone a subtle shift in the past 20 years, one that has created an environment of overuse. Unfortunately, more tests and more surgical procedures haven't produced better results, Gawande argues. They do make providers more profitable. And they drive up costs for insurers, consumers and the governmenet.
Doctors and hospitals, among others, disagree. Take a look and decide for yourself. Because a key point Gawande makes is that a lot of these high costs are local; they vary from one area to another based on the philosophy of the local system of providers. It made me wonder what the costs might look like if someone crunched numbers for York County the way Gawande did for the two towns in Texas in the article.
Are we more or less profit driven here? What would your guess be?
Update, 11:41 a.m. July 15: The U.S. House introduced comprehensive health care reform legislation this morning. Here's an analysis of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office. I'd love to hear somebody in the health care business take a whack at explaining the good and bad of this.
- Dan Fink