Missing from the HCR Debate: How to Truly Slow Down Cost Increases

Several articles that caught my eye this week deserve a lot more attention, especially when you look at the rising storm in California over the 39% rate increases proposed by Anthem Blue Cross for their individual customers. These increases have caught the eye, and the ire, of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  They underscore how crucial it is to rein in costs, but also how important it is understand all the reasons why costs are rising so steeply…

CNN puts it bluntly “”Even as the healthcare debate turns to blood sport in Washington, some analysts say the debate is ignoring one of the leading causes of rising costs: the way healthcare providers are paid.”

Simply put, as long as physicians and hospitals are paid on a “per service” basis, quality and effectiveness are not going to always be the main service drivers.

This week, the Wall Street Journal focused on the Courage study, which found that stents generally offered no benefit beyond what would be obtained through medication for patients with chronic chest pain. Has this changed the practice of routinely using stents? No. Could the fact that stents are highly reimbursed procedures have anything to do with this? Read the article, and let us know what you think…

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