Posts Tagged ‘financial risk’

Medicare: The Free Market Option

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Medicare gives patients more choice, and a greater range of free-market options than does private insurance.  While Medicare has had its financial challenges, it is an example of a government-run program that gives patients choice.  Sometimes, private insurers refuse to include physicians in their plans; Medicare does not exclude physicians.

The insurance companies insist the idea of healthcare reform to include a public option – such as Medicare – but it’s important to look at the facts that includes a government-run plan.  According to a recent article in Mother Jones magazine, “Survey results demonstrate that Medicare beneficiaries are less likely than those with private coverage to High healthcare cost, advanced healthcare directivereport negative experiences with their insurance plans – including having expensive medical bills for non-covered services, being charged a lot more than insurance would pay, and physicians not taking their insurance.”

According to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, 37 percent of Medicare patients are completely satisfied with their coverage and report few problems accessing and paying for healthcare.  Only 20 percent of people with employer provided plans reported the same level of satisfaction.

One argument often used against the public health plan option is the following: I want to choose my own doctor, and I don’t want a government bureaucrat making that decision.  That’s wrong.  Under private healthcare plans, your only choice is to pick a doctor who has negotiated costs with your insurance company.  Doctors unwilling to negotiate are excluded.

In seeing the way the healthcare debate has been framed, perhaps the administration would have been better off describing the proposed reform as the extension of Medicare to the entire population.

A public health plan option will not introduce a bureaucracy into healthcare; that bureaucracy already exists.

Challenges Impact Physicians’ Choice of Specialties

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Patrick Sweeney, M.D., spinal surgeon, inventor and owner of the Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery in Mokena, IL, believes that private surgerypractitioners are under enormous stress right now, primarily in terms of overhead and contracting with insurance companies and other referral sources.  Dr. Sweeney says there is a strong possibility that traditional private practitioners may become a thing of the past over the next five to 10 years, given the way the healthcare system is evolving.

In a recent interview for the Alter+Care Podcasts on Healthcare, Dr. Sweeney noted that “A few powerful payers control a good share of our reimbursement market.”  Reimbursement issues also are luring younger physicians to work in large hospital-owned practices — where the financial risk is limited — and in lower-pressure specialties with less legal exposure and shorter work hours.  That’s bad news because it means that fewer new physicians are choosing to specialize in essential fields like general surgery, OB/GYN, ENT and neurosurgery, areas where critical shortages already exist.

To listen to Dr. Sweeney’s full interview on the challenges facing today’s and tomorrow’s physicians, please click here.