Health Care and the Supply Chain: Ten Steps to Reduce the Cost of Health Care Right Now

While we wait to see what Washington will do for us or to us on the health care front there are a number of things that could be done right now to reduce the cost of health care:

1.Medical Malpractice Reform - Tests are expensive to begin with but add in more tests based solely on the practice of defensive medicine by physicians seeking to avoid lawsuits and the cost goes off the charts.

2. Unnecessary Paperwork - A recent study in Health Affairs reported that physicians spend an average of $85,276 per year processing medical billing. We need to virtually eliminate paper claims processing.

3. Medicare Fraud - Fraud is expensive but until we make it more difficult to perpetrate it will continue to bleed our dollars.

4. EMR - Electronic Medical Records are an absolute must. This will cost money but can reduce paperwork and errors and make it possible to knowledgeably treat patients almost anywhere in the U.S.

5. Rethinking Preventative Medicine - We need to be focused on preventing disease not preventing care. Patients need access to medical professionals to guide their health decision making.

6. Corporate Wellness Financial Incentives - Create a system of wellness benchmarking that rewards efforts toward wellness but does not punish employees or companies for genetic inherited conditions or predispositions on the part of employees.

7. Competitive Bidding on Benefits - Require that corporations put their employee health benefits and insurance out to bid no less than once every three years. Companies may use consultants to assist in this process but no company related to or having a business relationship with the consultant should be permitted to bid.

8. Medical Research Reform - Create an entity that juries all clinical studies and results prior to publishing and require that all clinical studies on a product, not just the positive ones, are reported. This would be separate from the FDA and need not be a government run organization.

9. Medicare Payment Reform - Encourage competition in the supply chain by creating a profit incentive for hospitals to lower their supply chain costs. Exempt a portion of the savings from cost reporting so that the hospitals can keep some of what they save.

10. Over Consumption of Services - Most Internists, General Practioners and Nurse Practioners will testify to the fact that they regularly see a core group of patients who demand appointments for their every ache and pain -- most of which go away on their own in a short time. For fear of malpractice recrimination, these "patients" cannot be turned away. A public awareness campaign -- not unlike the inverse of mass advertising for prescription drugs -- that explains that insured medical treatment is not a "free good" and has a huge impact on everyone's rates along with examples of issues that are safe to "wait out for a time" could save a fortune in provider reimbursement let alone in payer claims processing costs.

-Lynn James Everard

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