Months ago my friend, a self-employed cabinetmaker, was forced to undergo surgery after an injury from a table saw accident. The procedure went well, and after three visits to the physical therapist and sticking to a program of self-directed exercises, he’s fully recovered. His was an almost ideal recovery, but that’s not the story here. It’s what almost happened. And happens day in and day out in our broken health-care system.
His doctors originally prescribed 40 separate rehab treatments, which would have cost thousands of additional dollars. In cases like my friend’s, and millions across the country each year, backwards incentives reward doctors not to prescribe the most effective care, but to bill for the greatest possible number of tests and procedures.
President Obama’s health-care plan would fix this. The plan includes steps toward rewarding doctors for making people healthy, rather than for the number and expense of procedures performed. At the same time, we as potential patients must understand that the most expensive and elaborate procedures are not always the best. By rewarding results and good choices, we can finally expand coverage and lower costs for all.
Chris Bell, U.S. Public Interest Research Group