Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Health Care Reform.

With all this talk out there about health care reform, I thought I'd add a few comments.

Let me start by saying that I do think some things need to change - insurance companies seem to have some of the most reprehensible policies and try to avoid paying for everything they can. Every day, I have some kind of paperwork to fill out trying to get people the medicine they need. I hate it that insurance is so expensive - and I would love a way for more people to get it.

That said, there are numerous problems with the President's plan:
1. Forcing people to buy insurance doesn't really seem like a viable solution.
2. Having a huge government option will likely drive other companies out of business, decreasing competition and taking away people's choices.
3. Taxing what employers pay for insurance is not a good idea - this will hurt businesses, especially small businesses.


Finally, what I see as the biggest problem:
Obama has spoken repeatedly about decreasing wasteful spending. I definitely agree that there is a lot of waste in our healthcare spending. The biggest reason for it, though, is not because doctors are trying to make more money or are deliberately defrauding the goverment. The reason doctors order more tests than needed is because they are worried about getting sued. Patients who come to the ER are going to get just about every possible blood test, radiology test, ultrasound, etc, just to make sure the ER doctor cannot be sued. Similar things happen in our primary care clinics. In this current climate of everyone being willing and able to sue physicians over anything, with no limits on damages, doctors are afraid if they do not order the most comprehensive test, it will come back to get them later.

Certainly, when physicians make egregious and purposeful errors, they should be punished, and the patients they harm should be taken care of. But there is a difference between taking care of a patient and levying a 30 million dollar "pain and suffering" remuneration against the doctor.

If you really want to save money in health care, make some reasonable tort reform. No health care reform can really be meaningful without it. Of course, I'm not holding my breath for that one, seeing as the biggest donors to both parties are trial lawyers, and most of the senate and house at one point actually were trial lawyers. But "real change" - if that is what the president wants - needs to include this, too.

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