Thursday, September 3, 2009

No More Money-Driven Medicine

Rally: Health Care for ALLImage by ^Berd via Flickr

"No one should die because they do not have health care and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day."

This was the battle cry, spread from person to person, across Facebook today. If you haven't already, check your friends' status messages, you probably have at least one friend with this message already. If you agree, copy and paste into your status message. I did!

On Twitter? Here is a more friendly 140 character version for you to copy and paste:

No one should die from lack of health care or go broke because they get sick. If you agree RT & post as your status today.
Over the weekend I watched the documentary "Money-Driven Medicine" featured on Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. Based on the book of the same title by Maggie Mahar, the film gets to the root of the problem with America's health care system: money. She reveals the way health care is paid for is based on how much it costs the doctor to provide a service. So doctors like cardiologists, gastroenterologists and endocrinologists who provide more services, order more tests and perform more procedures get paid more money.

Simply put, the health care system isn't set up to reimburse doctors based on how much their services benefit the patient. So doctors in family medicine, internal medicine and generalists who practice preventative medicine and provide health education to patients get paid less for their services. As a result, fewer and fewer medical school graduates go into these fields. With fewer primary care doctors there are fewer appointments available, so more people, including those with insurance, are using the Emergency Room to obtain primary medical care.

Another problem focused on is the unnecessary spending and waste that is the hallmark of our current medical system. For example, with the abundance of MRI machines and the focus on making money by ordering tests for patients, it is commonplace for a patient to be sent for an MRI. Based on the results of those MRIs, more patients than ever are now being advised that they need surgery. Question is, is that surgery really necessary?

In addition, with the health care system ruled by making a profit, little of that profit is reinvested back into the health care system.

That's not to say that the doctors providing services don't care about their patients. According to Ms. Mahar, five out of six of the doctors she contacted while doing research for her book called her back and wanted to talk about their concerns about a health care system that disrespect patients and ties their hands to advocate for better quality of care. Featured in the documentary is Dr. Donald Berwick, a pediatrician and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, who wants to overthrow the current health care system in favor of one that is more efficient, more respectful of patients and uses its resources more judiciously.

Please visit the Bill Moyers Journal PBS website where you can learn more by watching the program via video, listening to the podcast and or reading the transcript of the program. Decide for yourself if you'd like to join me in starting a revolution and ending Money-Driven Medicine.

Follow this link to Amazon.com to purchase the book Money-Driven Medicine:

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