Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More Medical Waste

A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows the range of prices for a basic appendectomy in California ranging from $1,500 to more than $180,000.  To say that this clearly illustrates a broken system is an understatement!  Even the lead author of the study, Dr. Renee Hsia, said, "There's no method to the madness." 

Other industrialized countries feature more government control so there is more consistent, and much lower, pricing on medical procedures.  Unfortunately even Obamacare would have little effect on such a disparity in pricing. 

The study examined 2009 data that hospitals were required to submit on 19,368 patients.  Patients were 18 - 59 years old and only those with uncomplicated cases were included for fairness.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Medical Waste

Recently I had the opportunity to experience America's health care system "up close and personal" as they say and it's easy to see why we have the most expensive medicine in the world.

In the past few weeks I've had surgery twice, once planned and once in an almost-emergency situation. Both happened in the same hospital chain locally but in different facilities. As I was being prepared for the second surgery I was given an EKG and blood work to be sure I was healthy enough for the experience. I mentioned I'd had the same work done less than 3 weeks earlier for the previous surgery and they said it was unfortunate those results weren't in their system because it would've eliminated the tests. Why weren't they? Because health care is America is designed for the convenience of the doctor and not the patient.

Every doctor rules over his own little kingdom and patients must follow his/her rules to qualify to be a patient. In this age when we can ship a package anywhere in the world overnight it seems ridiculous that we don't have the technology in health care to deal with the most basic logistics. But each doctor rules supreme in his/her little world.

In my case the doctor had my GP run the pre-op tests and submit them to his office. Since the hospital did not require him to file them in their database they were not available for any other doctor. So 3 weeks later I get to pay for the same tests all over again but this time in a hospital (can you spell $$$?).

One of the advantages of a single-payer system is a single medical database where all patient information would be available to all. But America loves its independence so we have millions of little medical kingdoms with their own rules, policies and databases. They don't play well with others and its the patient that ends up paying the bill. There's simply no excuse for this archaic system to continue with the technology available today.