Thursday, April 21, 2005

A Time When Less Was Indeed More

In my last blog, I was talking about that the Medicare now is in crisis, and there is a new pay-for-performance experiment program just started. Today I read another article about Medicare and the high healthcare spending. Basically, it talks about the inefficiency of Medicare and its way too high costs.

In this article, it gives an example Mr. Hentschel, who is 80 years old and suffering from congestive heart failure, as well as a bulging artery in his abdomen that could burst at any time and an enlarged prostate. When he was in a community hospital in Orlando, he was suggested to do different tests such as a chest X-ray or a CT scan, or procedures like moving his prostate and operating on the aneurysm by different specialists. However, he did not choose to do any of those; and now he stays medically stable.

Therefore, here brought out the problem, is Medicare really efficiency? Does it worth that much money? The article also says that Medicare is a federal program, but medical practice can vary wildly from region to region. Studies found that patients who have more office visits, hospitalizations and operations did not, on average, do better. At the same time, treatments that are known to be effective are often neglected.

In addition, patients get proven treatments only half the time. One of the study’s researchers, Dr. Steven Asch of the RAND Corporation and the Los Angeles Veterans Affairs health care system says that only a quarter of the adults with diabetes had three blood-sugar tests over a two-year period and just 45 percent of heart-attack patients received a beta blocker that can significantly reduce the risk of death.

There are many evidences say that Medicare should be improved. I think so too. The cost is high, but there a big proportion of patients do not receive relevant treatment or at least not the effective treatments. On the other hand, I think this article also shows that people do not trust Medicare such as Mr. Hentschel; even he had such big problems as well as that many surgery offers from professional specialists. I still think Medicare should be improved by put the quality and efficiency as primary consideration.

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