Friday, January 24, 2014

Why the American Health Care System...

...Needs Reform, Part Infinity. From a front-page story in the Times this morning, "Hospital Chain Said to Scheme to Inflate Bills":

Every day the scorecards went up, where they could be seen by all of the hospital’s emergency room doctors.

Physicians hitting the target to admit at least half of the patients over 65 years old who entered the emergency department were color-coded green. The names of doctors who were close were yellow. Failing physicians were red.

The scorecards, according to one whistle-blower lawsuit, were just one of the many ways that Health Management Associates, a for-profit hospital chain based in Naples, Fla., kept tabs on an internal strategy that regulators and others say was intended to increase admissions, regardless of whether a patient needed hospital care, and pressure the doctors who worked at the hospital.

I've often wondered about my own doctor, whom I actually like a lot. But he works for a large medical group, and it just seems like every time I go to see him -- every time -- he ends up referring me to a specialist. Coincidence? Or is it kind of like Jiffy Lube, which is always trying to sell me something else? Could it be that my doctor is under instructions to refer me to one of the specialists in his group? Or am I just paranoid? After reading the piece in the Times I'm not so sure.

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