"The U.S. wastes more on health care bureaucracy than it would cost to provide health care to all of the uninsured. Administrative expenses will consume at least $399.4 billion out of total health expenditures of $1,660.5 billion in 2003. Streamlining administrative overhead to Canadian levels would save approximately $286.0 billion in 2003, $6,940 for each of the 41.2 million Americans who were uninsured as of 2001. This is substantially more than would be needed to provide full insurance coverage"
- Connecticut Coalition for Universal Health Care
The Cost to the Nation, the States and the District of Columbia, with State-Specific Estimates of Potential Savings
With the economic situation, the cost of health care continues to rise. I have three interesting articles that lay out the situation as well as statistical data.
1) Health-Care Costs to Top $8,000 Per Person (Time Magazine)
"Health care costs will top $8,000 per person this year, consuming an ever-bigger slice of a shrinking economic pie, says the report by the Department of Health and Human Services, due out Tuesday."
2) Health Care Statistics (Deseret News)
"In a report from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, U.S. spending on medical care in 2008 reached $2.4 trillion, which is almost double the current $1.3 trillion federal deficit. Things will continue to be the opposite of good throughout this year as costs clip along nationwide at a pace that will nearly double to $4.4 trillion by 2018 — the year Utah’s health-care system reform is to be pretty much in place."
3) Health Insurance Costs (National Coalition on Health Care)
"By several measures, health care spending continues to rise at a rapid rate and forcing businesses and families to cut back on operations and household expenses respectively. In 2008, total national health expenditures were expected to rise 6.9 percent — two times the rate of inflation.1 Total spending was $2.4 TRILLION in 2007, or $7900 per person1. Total health care spending represented 17 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP)."
There are various hidden costs to a patient that don’t necessarily show up on their medical bill. The articles I’ve posted focus on the cost of the patient’s time.
1) "A Hidden Cost of Health Care:Patient’s Time"
2) "Discharge Plan Cuts Hospital Readmissions, Patient Costs"
Article Source: NYtimes.com and New.Health.com
Ever wonder how hospitals get financed? Well there are multiple ways: flat fee per service paid to hospitals by Medicare, per-diem payments, or fee-for-services. However, reimbursement methods tend to have some issues. For example, Medicare reimbursement can take up to several months; or hospitals will not get paid the full price of particular services because prices are "set unilaterally by the state governments."
How Do Hospitals Get Paid?
Article Excerpt (source: NY Times)
"Few Americans probably have any inkling of how their neighborhood hospital prices the myriad of distinct services rendered patients. I doubt many patients can understand the long hospital bills that feature exotic items such as “cath porta cath perit” or “OP6-central line reposit,” and so on. Even fewer still likely understand why a Tylenol pill or a rubber glove can carry the humongous price tags hospitals put on them.
Americans can be forgiven their ignorance on this issue because, as I put it in a recent paper on the subject, the pricing of hospital services is best described as “Chaos Behind a Veil of Secrecy.”
I happened to stumble onto this interesting article, written by Dr. Michael L. Cowan, when studying infectious control hospital trends. He discuss "ways to better utilize technology and leverage social media" as a means to "improve the communication, quality, and efficiency of…patient-doctor relationship in 2009."
Key Trends for 2009
Article Excerpt (source: AdvanceWeb.com)
"One reason we are seeing the patient-doctor relationship change is that ever increasing numbers of our society – and certainly the younger members – trust and rely on the Internet. We use it for daily communication, shopping, online banking and the sharing of all kinds of information. On social networks, we share personal thoughts and experiences with "friends" we have never met. However, while the Internet is being used highly effectively in other areas, a notable exception is in health care. To receive health care, most of us must physically "go" to the doctor’s office; we can’t e-mail, text or instant message (IM) him or her. Doctors are not at our disposal at the "click of a mouse."