According to the latest data from the CIA World Factbook, the United States spent 16.90% of our total GDP on health care. That is too much money. It’s too much money, and I think we can all agree on that.
Multiple factors influence our high healthcare cost. Discussion of ways to fix the system can get heated fast, but they won’t go away until we find a solution. We can’t afford not to!
Fingers are often pointed (in my opinion, rightly) at our current fee-for-service system. You don’t get paid for healthy patients – you get paid for sick ones. The hospital or practice is paid for each test they order and every procedure they perform. Whether or not the patient is healed is unimportant. Whether or not they needed the test or procedure unimportant. When we cease to make healing and overall care our primary focus, everyone suffers.
Malpractice lawsuits play a role in the “order every test, try every procedure” culture. It is estimated that by the age of 65, 75% of physicians in low-risk specialties will face a malpractice claim. 99% of physicians in high-risk specialties (such as obstetrician/gynecologists or neurosurgeons) will be served the infamous legal papers. Although most claims are thrown out, can we blame doctors for their caution? If you order everything it’s easier to defend yourself. What you ordered may have been unnecessary, costly, or both, but no one can say you didn’t do everything you could.
Media outlets have begun to report that the health care ruling won’t make a huge difference, regardless of the outcome. Economists, doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies know that they’re on the road to ruin. Costs are too high; we’ve gotten ourselves into a system that’s unsustainable. Accountable care organizations are groups of doctors, hospitals and health care providers that work together to provide for the overall well being of patients. The goal of an ACO is to shift focus towards total health. Financial incentives are for providing quality care and keeping patients out of hospitals to reach wellness goals. ACOs are one of many alternatives the American health care industry is experimenting with. I believe it’s a step in the right direction.