05 March 2012

Health Care Weird Thought #17

No, I haven’t actually made sixteen previous weird suggestions, but there have been a few, and the number 17 sounds like a good number. Prime and all that. 

Ok, here is the story.  Start here - Digital Records May Not Cut Health Costs, Study Cautions - NYTimes.com

Feel free to play this several times while reading…

Ok, so digitizing medical records won’t save a bunch of money. Psychology. Go figure.  But here is a weird thought.  See I told you there would be a weird thought:

What if insurance covered the statistical average testing battery.  That is, it would pay for the mean or median or mode number and array of tests for a certain diagnosis.  And if you, the patient, believed you needed more than this, you pay for it. 

Empirical medicine analyzes effectiveness of treatment variations, including testing, and widespread digital records could be tapped without injuring privacy to produce statistical standards for effective diagnosis and the like.  If you think your case requires more testing or treatment than the ‘norm’ you take on the financial risk.  If your doctor thinks you should have more, you and the doctor share the cost.  (Think about that, a physician backing his/her decisions with her/his money not just yours!)

Anyway, the idea is to prevent the risk of ‘moral hazard’ the patient and/or physician should be the one to take on the financial responsibility.  High cost health care is partly about over treatment, doing more than is necessary.  Here is a way to build in a feedback loop so we know when our choices are statistically slim and ask us to take on the financial responsibility for that choice.

Just a weird thought.  What weird responses do you have?


Ruth Bruns said...

Speaking very early in the morning (my time) and just finishing the first cup of coffee, I'd say this has a good plausibility rating.

Bill Baar said...

I'll grasp for the slim chance when it comes to a treatment that means life or death for a loved one.

My step-brothers grasping for a chance slimmer than slimmer right now for his son. A chance that will likely not be available come Obamacare.

As long as the choices are ours, and not the governments and their expert panels, I'm for it.