Friday, July 27, 2012

Mediocre Medicare

Seems the folks to our north have a secret they have been hiding for years. Their Medicare system is mediocre.     

The Canadian health care system (actually systems, since there is one for each province) provides equal access for all but falls short in delivering value.
In the eyes of the provinces, national standards merely ensured minimum benchmarks — that is, avoiding worst practices. Now, instead of bare minimum, the premiers aim to put their best face forward — at the best price.
So, how much will all this cost?

Their latest report highlights case studies that cry out for action: Exhibit A is foot ulcers that plague diabetics when treated poorly, leading to needless amputations. Exhibit B is teamwork, using nurse practitioners to do more primary care.
All of the premiers’ proposed reforms — clinical guidelines, fairer fees, better teamwork, cheaper generics — are no-brainers. They are also old news, and ought to have been targeted by now.
No brainers indeed.
Wonder how much the study cost that came to this conclusion?
Cost controls, for example, are vital if Ontario is to repurpose funding where it is needed most in home care and long-term care. Doctors take up one-quarter of all health expenditures in Ontario, about $48 billion, and roughly 42 per cent of all program spending in the province.
A few months ago, McGuinty sent out a letter to his fellow premiers ostensibly updating them on how Ontario was reining in doctors’ fees, but purposely seeking validation for his hard line. Other premiers responded privately by expressing strong support — and outright thanks — for paving the way.
What a novel idea.
Bring down the cost of health care by limiting how much a doctor can charge for their services.
What could possibly go wrong with that?

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