Monday, January 4, 2010
Healthcare Reform Misconception - Giving patients more control of their healthcare expenditures will lead to lower costs
The biggest drivers of costs are related to the lack of preventive care for many of us and the lack of good care coordination for those of us with complex chronic illnesses (e.g., heart failure, diabetes with complications) as discussed in the previous post. These will not be affected much if at all by patients having more “skin in the game.”
But the more we know about our medical care costs and the more we ask our providers why a test, a drug or a procedure is necessary then the more likely it becomes that there will be a reduction in total costs. Being more directly invested in the costs of our care will ultimately have a market effect. This is particularly important when told to get a test, X-ray or drug. Ask your physician if the test is really important or is just being done to “be complete” (i.e., avoid malpractice litigation.) Will the results really effect what the doctor decides to do next? And as for drugs, is a drug what is needed or is it a life style change such as Lipitor versus a change in diet and exercise? Or is a generic available? Or another drug that is equally as effective as the branded drug? It is our money so it is important to have these discussions. Unfortunately, as patients we still have an information gap relative to our provider and we tend to accept advice without questioning – this needs to change and being directly responsible for dollars spent may just provoke that change.
Praise for Dr Schimpff
The craft of science writing requires skills that are arguably the most underestimated and misunderstood in the media world. Dumbing down all too often gets mistaken for clarity. Showmanship frequently masks a poor presentation of scientific issues. Factoids are paraded in lieu of ideas. Answers are marketed at the expense of searching questions. By contrast, Steve Schimpff provides a fine combination of enlightenment and reading satisfaction. As a medical scientist he brings his readers encyclopedic knowledge of his subject. As a teacher and as a medical ambassador to other disciplines he's learned how to explain medical breakthroughs without unnecessary jargon. As an advisor to policymakers he's acquired the knack of cutting directly to the practical effects, showing how advances in medical science affect the big lifestyle and economic questions that concern us all. But Schimpff's greatest strength as a writer is that he's a physician through and through, caring above all for the person. His engaging conversational style, insights and fascinating treasury of cutting-edge information leave both lay readers and medical professionals turning his pages. In his hands the impact of new medical technologies and discoveries becomes an engrossing story about what lies ahead for us in the 21st century: as healthy people, as patients of all ages, as children, as parents, as taxpayers, as both consumers and providers of health services. There can be few greater stories than the adventure of what awaits our minds, bodies, budgets, lifespans and societies as new technologies change our world. Schimpff tells it with passion, vision, sweep, intelligence and an urgency that none of us can ignore.
-- N.J. Slabbert, science writer, co-author of Innovation, The Key to Prosperity: Technology & America's Role in the 21st Century Global Economy (with Aris Melissaratos, director of technology enterprise at the John Hopkins University).