America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) has released a plan on how to reduce health care costs. The platform is summarized below:
The new reform proposal would:
Ensure universal coverage by guaranteeing coverage for pre-existing conditions, fixing the health care safety net, giving tax credits to working families and enacting an individual coverage requirement;
Call on the nation to set a goal of reducing the growth in health care costs by 30 percent;
Enhance portability for people changing or in between jobs;
Provide more affordable health care options for small businesses; and
Increase value and improve quality.
An admirable statement indeed. But once again, one must look a little deeper.
Reducing costs: AHIP points out “Respected studies have shown that patients do not consistently receive high-quality health care and receive care based on best practices only 55 percent of the time.” Hmm, does mean that we as physicians are giving ‘low qulaity’ care the other 45% of the time? Who is determining what is ‘high quality’ care? They advocate using “evidence based standards.” Aren’t we already doing this? Furthermore, evidence based standards typically apply to ONE disease state, not the multiple chronic problems primary care physicians deal with. C’mon give us something fresh! Stop blaming the doctors for the problem.
AHIP also advocates “exploring” replacing medical liability with dispute resolution. No argument here! Now who will reign in the powerful legal special interest groups that so effectively court congress?
The reform proposal also advocate controlling fraud. Now really, how big of a problem is this?
AHIP also advocates pay for performance. This is a little scary, given the current P4P mess. I could see this as just another way to with hold payment to providers. Based on my work as a hospitalist, I find it laughable when the 80 year old post op knee patient is expected to be discharged on day 3. However, insurance companies don’t care to notice the hypoxia, anemia and confusion attendant with operating on the elderly. Instead, they leave a bright orange sticker on the chart demanding that I justify why the patient is still in the hospital. Good thing I’m not currently paid for my performance in getting the total knee replacement patient out on time. The heck with hypoxia! Clearly I must be doing something wrong and my pay should reflect this!
They also advocate “streamlining” administrative costs. Gosh, I’d love to streamline my claims, and not have to have extra office staff there to beg insurance companies to pay the bills, or jump through hoops for pre-authorization. Insurance companies should begin immediately to streamline their administrative costs–they don’t need a government mandate or huge reform to do this–but, I suspect, this may take money from their own pockets.
AHIP states another priority: “Refocusing our health care system on keeping people healthy, intervening early, and providing coordinated care for chronic conditions.” This is something the health insurance companies should be doing already! It should not take a “crises” in health care for health care plans to make STAYING healthy a mandate. They also advocate strongly for “patient centered homes”, a concept that I think is just repackaging of the current model, albeit more top heavy with “midlevel” and ancillary providers.
Information technology is embraced (how fashionable!) but no attempt is made as to explain WHO will pay for technology. Why don’t we admit that the emperor has no clothes?! There is no money to pay for an EMR and nationalized technology. Putting it on the backs of primary care practices will drive more physicians out of primary care. Perhaps insurance companies should pony up for this cost?
They also advocate that everyone should have insurance, regardless of condition. AHIP also states there should be tax benefits to small businesses so they can offer health insurance, and “large markets should be strengthened.” They even suggest that the government offer assistance to small businesses. They also advocate broadening SCHIP and medicaid eligibility, as well as offering tax credits to lower income families. This completely ignores the fact that medicaid reimburses so poorly that physicians can’t afford to see medicaid patients! AHIP also wants “community health centers” to receive “adequate” support. Ah yes, another bail out in the making!
American Health Insurance Plans close with a mandate that the feds should provide a “framework” for reform, and that state governments should follow suit. They also pledge to “cooperate” with the effort. After reading the entire proprosal, I am left with just one question: what are the health insurance companies going to do? Are they going to fly to Washington in their private jets to ask the government to pay for the uninsured?
Visit the complete reform platform at: