Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Another Graphic, Part Two

As promised, here's part two of yesterday's graphic. This chart is almost certain to be more controversial than yesterday's, and I'd disagree with a few of the points below, but am posting this today in the hopes of engendering conversation. While it's true that malpractice itself isn't bankrupting the system, the fear of litigation has encouraged defensive medicine - over-ordering labs and imaging studies, over-diagnosing, and over-prescribing; there's even an acronym doctors use for it: CYA (cover your donkey). Likewise, obesity is indeed a major health problem, and while obesity's effect on diabetes isn't exclusively driving the country to the brink of catastrophe, obesity's effects on cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis (and subsequent joint replacements), and cancer is a major driver of healthcare costs. Finally, the statements 'Providers charge more because they can' and 'Our doctors are overpaid' encourage folks to blame doctors for a system in which doctors get the short end of the stick just as often as patients - the truth is that doctors charge more because it's difficult to anticipate how much insurance will pay out, and while some doctors make healthy livings, many doctors, especially the all-important general practitioners, are going out of business.

So why put this chart up if I'm only going to bash it? The point is this - while we all complain about healthcare costs, few of us understand how the money works, and this lack of transparency prevents us from being smart consumers or having any ability to solve the problem. I may disagree with some of the points the chart authors are making, but I think it's important that we consumers learn more about how the healthcare system works, have our ideas about how it works challenged, and talk more with each other about how to fix it. While the so-called Obamacare bill will offer some fixes, it won't solve the problem entirely, and we're likely to need more work in the future. So share this chart, share yesterday's, and start talking - let's see what we can come up with.

Why Your Stitches Cost $1,500 - Part Two
Via: Medical Billing And Coding