Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Six factors in the cost of health care...

I did a little research on the factors behind the rising cost of health care and here’s what I found through a variety of journal articles and other sources online:

Emergency Rooms: generally not allowed to turn anyone away and must be able to bear the burden of cost for those they treat who cannot pay. ER’s used by the uninsured as a primary care facility. Who here has visited an emergency room any time of the day or night and not seen it packed? How many of those cases are truly emergencies? Also, in larger cities where there is more violent crime and a large number of lower income people, hospital ER’s are nearly always overwhelmed.

Physicians: are offered incentives by managed care organizations in an effort to ration health care, deciding who needs what and when. The more care a patient receives, the more the managed care organization pays out. Also, physicians face rising malpractice premiums.

Prescription drugs: it's simply an issue of supply and demand. More demand = higher prices.

Technology: lack of interdisciplinary collaboration, technology changes too rapidly, not cost effective to use certain technologies when they are immediately replaced by others. More funding needs to go into research and development.

Nurse labor shortage: The pay is good but many times it is not enough to keep good nurses who can get a better deal (in pay and/or environment) elsewhere. Salary compression (which is also a problem in higher education)—causes problems. Higher salaries are important to attract new nurses but the salaries are often much higher than that of experienced nurses who have been in the field longer.

Uninsured: individuals who work with companies which do not offer plans, who cannot afford outside coverage and individuals who are employed with companies who have health insurance programs but can’t afford the premiums. The high premiums are often due to the fact that many insurance companies are trying to make up for losses.

Overall greatest cost driver: Consumer demand
Overall best way to cut costs: Prevention

If we can find a way to solve these six problems, we've got the problem b eat. Sure it will be complicated, but it sure as hell is better than that 1,018 page manifesto put out by the Congress.

Thoughts anyone?

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate your having dropped by my not so humble blog. Thank you for the kind words.

    I would add one other thing to the list: Tort Reform.

    Everybody should be able to be properly compensated when a doctor does something he/she should have known better than to do, but the compensation must be in line with the offense.

    Millions of dollars for hot coffee, as in the McDonalds case, is just outrageous, and doctors have to pay way too much for liability insurnce, the cost of which is figuered into the patient's bill.

    Love Gainesville, BTW. Had a close friend play football for UF, then Dallas.

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