Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wrong, No Solution

There was an editorial in the New York Times a week or so ago, which I can no longer locate for a proper citation, regarding medical costs. It posed an example of colon cancer, which could be detected by an inexpensive test called a “fecal occult blood test” or by a colonoscopy. We all know what the latter is, of course.

It made the argument between the more expensive test and the one of lesser cost as driving this nation’s high cost of health care, positing that we should be using the former less and the latter more, and suggested that some government regulation would probably be required to make that happen. Again we get both the wrong problem and the wrong solution.

After years of screaming objections to insurance companies dictating what procedures and tests our doctors could and could not order, we now want to put the government in a position of doing that instead? Or perhaps we want the government doing that in addition to the insurance company. If my doctor wants to order a test on me he would need to get permission not only from the insurance company, but from the government as well. The test was approved, but the patient died first.

The writer automatically went to “use the cheaper test” instead of asking a more intelligent question like, “Why does a colonoscopy cost so much?”

If a German bricklayer comes to the United States we do not question his ability to lay bricks, and as soon as he gets a green card he will be able to get a job here as a bricklayer. Similarly for auto and truck mechanics. But if a British surgeon comes to this country we will not allow him to practice medicine. Why not? Is the human body built differently or does it function differently in England than here? Of course not.

If foreign physicians were allowed to move to this country and practice medicine, we would not be paying our doctors anywhere near $250,000 per year as a starting wage, and our health care costs would plummet regardless of what tests and procedures doctors order on their patients.

Congress is mandating reductions in payments to Medicare, but they still refuse to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower pricing on medications, to take advantage of the purchasing power they have due to the volume of business which they do with those drug companies. We used to call that “stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.”

Everywhere we look, applying wrong solutions to what is not the problem.

1 comment:

  1. why would inporting doctors from elsewhere lower costs? Do they magically have lower cost of doing business here? Does their lower cost model in the foreign country automatically (and magically) transfer with them?

    Mr. Obama high soaring rhetoric and ideals certainly did not when he moved to Washington. Oops - sorry, injecting politics in the the healthcare debate. My bad...