Saturday, January 16, 2010

Grab Bag 2

Scorecards on state health care performance.
Not surprisingly, this shows that the south and Nevada are relatively bad at caring for their citizens. If the those states acted more like the best performing states, they would help a lot more of their people with better quality care at lower prices. They don't, though, because they have a predominant culture of blind belief in their superiority and refusal to engage in progressive change.

CT scans cause about 30,000 cancers per year, half of which will be fatal. This is not to say that we should never use CT scans. We do need to be more vigilant about the overprescription of tests and procedures, and this is a great example of that need. CT scans are typically overpriced and overprescribed because too many hospitals bought CT scanners by issuing debt and have to pay off those debts by increasing the prices to consumers and performing more tests than the population needs. Doctors with financial stakes in their clinics are especially prone to prescribing unnecessary tests and procedures because they profit from them. People will unnecessarily die early from expensively-treated cancer caused by unnecessary tests ordered for personal and hospital profit, as well as for the sake of defensive medicine. We need more oversight, more restrictions on the purchases of expensive equipment (some states restrict, but the outcomes are mixed because of the different standards used), and an absolute ban on doctors being in conflict-of-interest situations. "First, do no harm," right?

Speaking of defensive medicine, it is one component of the Congressional Budget Office's estimation that tort reform could effectively save America over $50,000,000,000 over ten years. The report suggests that the measures would also result in better health outcomes, perhaps due to a reduction in unnecessary tests and procedures that carry health consequences. Reform is of course heavily opposed by the deep, deep pockets of the lawyers who make piles of money no matter which side of the lawsuits they're on. Politicians are getting lobbied by the greedy lawyers who profit from the policies that hurt real people in our country.