Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Emperor’s New Health Clothes

Our president said "every idea has been put on the table. Every argument has been made." This is simply not true regarding health care.

As a result of the influence of our president, Congress, insurers and medical care givers the general public has misguidedly been focusing on health insurance coverage when the focus should have been on health itself. The complex content of the bill on insurance reform is not a bill to improve health and lower its cost. The president is on the verge of creating extremely expensive access to the “emperor’s new health clothes.”

There is little value in this proposed legislation to make health care high quality and affordable for everyone.

On one hand President Obama continues to blame insurers for rising costs and for skimming health dollars while at the same time he invokes insurance principles for reforming our health system. This conflict requires responsible resolution.

What about health itself, Mr. President? The health status of fully insured union members with low co-pays and deductibles and access to care at the best medical facilities is not good, and the union members do not know it. Neither do government workers who are led to believe their federal employee health plans are a model for the nation to follow. Medicare and Medicaid plan members also receive substandard care and they do not know it. Even worse, our health care providers are in the dark when it comes to the quality of health they achieve with their patients.

Simply put, our increasingly poor quality of public health is the cause of our high cost of health care. And hospitals, doctors, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, durable medical equipment suppliers and disease management companies make their income from poor health.

Information about the value of health care we receive is the discussion that will unite the American people, Democrats and Republicans, their physicians, and most of all Congress to understand what to do. When this ticking time bomb of useful information currently withheld by insurers and government is organized and made public, meaningful health reform will occur.

The idea to require existing state, federal, and local governmental agencies to mandate dissemination of aggregated population health data and individual data in confidential conforming format by all health plan administrators has never been put on the table by our president.

We should use our existing already paid for governmental apparatus to achieve what the employees are paid to do, protect the public’s health interest. Aggregating and sharing existing public health medical information by regions in the US will light a clear path for health reform in America and avoid the obscene expenditure of money and incurring of debt for essentially no value.

Without a baseline of today’s value there can be no measurement of future value. Let’s not purchase “The Emperors New Health Clothes.”

The Health Gadfly

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