Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Health Care "costs"

About 23 years ago, in another place, a land far, far away, a young, bright, and extremely competent medical specialist..a urologist...saved my life as I see it.

He rescued me from kidney cancer, and we began a lifelong 'relationship' in the medical sense.

I touch base with him from time to time to get his take on the state of the health care industry. Generally speaking, what I hear from him would not encourage you, as the overwhelming trend in the system is to devalue the role and contribution of the medical care provider.

Most recently, I asked him about the burden malpractice insurance places on the system. If you've been paying attention, you know that the issue of "tort reform", or in simpler words "medical liability reform," has been largely excluded from the ongoing national debate. The consensus is that this is so because lawyers who deal in such matters have great influence over the debate; in other words, they are a special interest of the first order.

On to more specifics. I asked my specialist friend how much malpractice insurance adds to his annual expenses. He replied that in California, because of regulatory reform, this insurance costs about $25,000 per year, or about $500 per week.

He adds that in other states, coverage can run 5 to 10 times that amount annually, or $500 to $1000 per day! Think about that.

How much does this add to the overall cost of "health care" in this country? You can't easily know, because the subject, as I mentioned, is being kept off "the radar screen."

Probably because it's so very clear what a drag on the system this is. If a Doctor pays $500 a day in insurance costs, and sees 25 patients a day, each patient carries a $20 per visit cost simply for insurance purposes. If more critical specialists, like OB/GYNs, pay $1000 per day, than each patient visit carries a $40 burden having nothing to do with pure health care, but only to cover the various loaders on the system.

And we wonder why our system costs so much. More importantly, we should wonder why our so called "public servants" refuse to address this liability issue.

I think I know; how about you?

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