Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This Won't Help You

but it will help me pay my mortgage.

Wonder what would happen if medicine really did have transparency? Suppose you had access to data that supports less treatment rather than more. What would you do with that data?

The St. Paul Pioneer Press on Sunday examined how a recent study indicates that "hospitals that provide more intense care do not prolong life for patients with chronic or terminal illnesses." According to a study conducted by Dartmouth Atlas, Medicare could spend $19 billion less on end-of-life care for beneficiaries and obtain the same outcomes (Olson, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 11/12).

So, spending more on health care does not produce better results.

Study participants, who were ages 67 and older, had at least one of 12 chronic illnesses and died between 2000 and 2003 (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 5/16). The study found 5% higher mortality rates among heart attack and colon cancer patients who received the most care

In fact, less care has a lower mortality rate.

Some health policy experts also have recommended that health insurers begin to cover palliative care, which focuses on pain management and helps patients consider their options for end-of-life care. Lyn Ceronsky, director of a palliative care program at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, said, "It's never 'We don't think you need this,'" adding, "It's 'What are your goals and how can we make sure our care plan really matches them?'"

We don't think you need this, but the government (read taxpayer) is paying your bills, so don't worry.
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