Something To Talk About

The Post yesterday had a story that hopefully lead to some serious studying, talking and thinking about the health care system. It seems that UPMC’ s record in terms of patient outcomes for cardiac surgery is no higher than many other hospitals even though it’s services cost as much as %50 more. Hopefully, this report will spark a deeper search for the facts in what is likely a very complex set of numbers. They likely do take on a number of tougher cases than other hospitals and certainly are carrying the huge cost being a major teaching and research institution.

What is interesting to me is not so much the facts that came out, but the fact that under the current system too few people have an active interest in looking in to it. “The variations are no surprise to insurers, who provided 2005 payment data for the report, produced by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. And consumers are unlikely to change hospitals based on the pricing information because health plans shoulder the bulk of the cost of their care.”

The free market system is based on the fine constant balancing of producers interested getting paid well for their services and consumers looking to get as much value and quality as they can for their money. It’s called the grim science because this is where the our often unlimited desires ; in this case the most basic desire to live and the limits of reality meet. It seems like the current system is there to keep people from facing these hard choices but that does not mean that they do not have to be made.

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