How About a Little Extra Mayo?


I was watching Good Morning America the other day when they did a feature on the Mayo Clinic Model of heath care. It was intriguing, and gave me the briefest glimmer of hope. Mayo is a not for profit organization, some of whose doctors work on salary, as opposed to on a per treatment basis.

“I’m not figuring out how do I work most efficiently to get the most out of reimbursement. I’m working most efficiently for the needs of the patient.”

Dr. Dana Thompson, pediatric surgeon.

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What made this different in my mind was that it was actually dealing with the cost of health care, not the cost of health insurance. The debate, and media coverage has blurred the distinction. The only thing that wasn’t mentioned was actual figures.

Speaking of cost, here is an interesting site called Healthcare Bluebook. It gives what a “fair” price should be for various medical procedures and office visits. I like that it puts some of the responsibility in the hands of the patient. We need to shop around, and let market forces determine some of the cost. Having said that, I’ve got to admit that these figures still seem high to me. $73 for ten minutes with the doctor would add up to $438 per hour. Yikes! If that’s the “fair” price, I hate to imagine…

Healthcare Reform, Will it Happen? Will it Help?

Okay, the Obama administration is going great guns on health care reform. That’s cool. That’s one of the reasons he got elected. It’s also been tried before. They’ve got the same slogan as Bill and Hill: “Reduce the cost of Health Care.” Not sure what that means these days. In the past, Reduce the Cost of Health Care was code for “Medicare is going to deny more and pay less.” Never reduced my costs any.
All I know is that without health insurance, I’d never be able to afford to go to the doctor. I had hernia surgery nine months ago. At the time, I was double insured between mine and my wifes benefits. If I had to have the surgery today, I couldn’t afford to pay 20% and that’s a simple in and out little hernia repair. I can’t imagine being in the situation of catastrophic illness only to find my insurance doesn’t cover the experimental treatment that may keep me alive. Or how about this? Do I sell the house and stay alive, or do we keep the house so the family still has a home when I croak without the treatment?
It is immoral that health care has become a luxury item.
We tend make the insurance industry the ultimate villain of the story. They certainly aren’t at the top of my list of people who make me feel warm and fuzzy. As much as I like to imagine horrible things happening to them, I can’t let them shoulder the blame alone.
I believe it’s more of an unholy triad that we’re dealing with here: Insurance System, Health Care System, Legal System. As much as I like to point at insurance, I also have to ask “Who says Health Care should charge so much?” I know there are overhead issues. A doctor’s office has to hire several people just to deal with the various insurance companies. I know that malpractice insurance costs an arm and a leg. Without malpractice insurance, the obscene award given for just one “pain and suffering” case could close an office. It’s a vicious cycle.
For years, insurance just paid without saying a word. This led to a culture of over treating, prescribing anything and everything, whether the patient needed it or not. After all, the patient wasn’t paying, so what the heck. Eventually, Insurance figured out that they needed to stop paying so much. About the same time, all sorts of medical offices ceased to be run by medical people, but by business people. Guess whose interests went down a peg? If you guessed the patients, you get a hearty handshake and a pat on the back. As a former member of the health care industry, I watched, as forms being filled out accurately become more important to the bean counters, than whether or not the patient got what they needed. Of course the office needed to get paid, or I would get no paycheck. It was sad though, that a larger percentage of the day was going toward paperwork and billing.
I believe in accountability, that a patient who has been a victim of malpractice has the right t satisfaction. Having said that, I also believe that there have been some severely irresponsible awards given. This drives up medical overhead. It makes the lawyers richer and costs me more for a doctor visit. Or it costs the insurance company more which makes my premium higher.

I don’t claim to have all the answers. If I did, I wouldn’t have time to be doing this. Or maybe I’d be getting paid for doing this.

I think it would be a good Idea if all insurance companies had to be non-profit organizations. Hospitals too. (Some of them are) It works for Credit Unions. I don’t know why my ten minutes in an MRI machine costs over $1000. Don’t get me started on how pharmaceutical companies can fleece us like they do. I don’t see how just making insurance available to everybody is going to help if most of us can’t afford it. If there isn’t an decrease of what is charged, the insurance companies will cut their cost by denying more, paying less, and increasing my premiums. If there isn’t some sort of limits placed on malpractice awards, doctors won’t be able to lower their overhead. If surgeons don’t charge exorbitant fees for 5 minutes of time… you see what I mean.
Mr President, You’ve got your work cut out for you on this one. I’m hopeful, but not optimistic. I’ll keep praying for you. Read more…