Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sydny's Take on The Healthcare Debate

Hahahaha!! What a bunch of blathering idiots we must look like, bellowing about 'socialized medicine', to all those countries who managed to figure this all out decades ago. I like how this article addresses the key obstacle in the way of a single payer system very succinctly: "Cutting costs means crimping the profits of many big donors to politics over the years."

Here's the article

Health-care debate is an eye-glazing morass
Anne Davies Herald Correspondent in Washington
August 1, 2009

McALLEN, Texas, a border city in impoverished Hidalgo County, has become exhibit A in the debate over what is wrong with the US health system.

McAllen is among the most expensive health-care markets in the US. It spends $US15,000 ($18,000) a year for each Medicare patient – those covered by the government scheme for the over 65s – compared with $US7400 in nearby El Paso, which has similar demographics.

It is not that the people of McAllen are sicker, or that the care is superior. No, it seems that in McAllen the doctors are 50 per cent more likely to refer patients to specialists. They are more likely to order expensive tests such as ultrasounds, MRI and bone density scans. Patients with heart conditions are three times more likely to get pacemakers, implantable defribrillators, cardiac bypass operations and stents.

Writing in The New Yorker, Atul Gawande, himself a doctor, concluded after a visit to McAllen that the practice of medicine had become commercialised to the point where generating revenue overshadowed patient care. Doctors had shares in the local hospital and in the imaging equipment and so had an incentive to order more procedures for their patients.

Were there patients healthier as a result this ‘‘Rolls-Royce’’ treatment? The data said no. In Rochester, Minnesota, home of the famous Mayo Clinic, costs per Medicare patient were only $US6688 a year.

As politicians get down to the complex business of drafting legislation to create a new health-care system, they are trying to figure out how to put into place laws that will create more Mayo Clinics and fewer McAllens.

At the same time they are also trying to work out how to provide health care to the 47 million Americans with no insurance.

No comments: