Friday, May 20, 2005

A Penny for Your Thoughts, Doc?

My last post looked at a new reimbursement model – well, maybe a “tweak” of the current model would be more accurate. In a recent New York Times item, Dr Thomas Gross suggests still another:
The current medical reimbursement system pays by the job performed, not by the time spent…Your family doctor receives the same reimbursement for diagnosing a sinus infection in 6 minutes as he does if he takes 30 minutes…In our current system, there is no way to buy an hour of your doctor's time just to talk.
First, in fairness, one most likely COULD purchase an hour of the doc’s time; it would just be VERY expensive, and not a covered expense under one’s medical plan. But I see Dr Gross’ real point, which is that medicine has become outcome-based, as opposed to health-based. And that this is at least partly a result of the current medical insurance system.
In previous posts, I discussed Consumer Driven Health Care (CDHC). The primary goal of CDHC is to empower patients/insureds in taking a more active role in their own health care. We talked about coupling catastrophic medical plans with tax-advantaged savings accounts.
But HDHP’s and HSA’s are not the only way to engage in CDHC (there, is THAT wonkish enough for you?). We’ll look at some alternatives next week.
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