CrashIntoTheSun / Flickr
Just spit and scan: home genetic kits like this one could mean big trouble for the health insurance industry.
CrashIntoTheSun / Flickr
Hear: Too Much Information
On today's Planet Money:
Information problems are some of the biggest hurdles in fixing health care. Doctors know plenty about you and your ailments, but you aren't usually given much information about them in return. Choosing your physician is an important decision, but how can you know if you are making a good choice? Robert Krughoff of Consumer Checkbook says he's got a new website, Patient Central, that makes finding a good doctor a whole lot easier. The website uses detailed survey information obtained by actual patients to measure doctor performance. One of the site's top rated docs, Dr. David Graham, says he likes the idea but thinks it isn't perfect.
Plus, a health care paradox. Sometimes you can have too much information. Naked Economist Charlie Wheelan says knowing our genetic makeup is good for us but bad for the insurance industry. Wheelan argues that as soon as our insurance pool is "corrupted" by this information, healthy people will begin to opt out and people likely to get sick will be forced to opt in at higher rates.
Bonus: A nurse says your doctor is not a mechanic.
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This letter comes to us from Melanie S., a nurse whose husband is a radiology resident:
I take issue with your comparison of doctors to mechanics. On the
surface this is pretty good. Both professions carry a skill set not
many share. We have to put our trust in them that they are knowledgeable
and competent. The bills are also similar. Little fees tacked on after
the procedure. Frustrating. But by oversimplifying with such
analogies, I think you run the risk of breeding resentment. The mechanic
did not spend $250,000 dollars becoming educated and skilled. The
mechanic did not work 80 hours a week in order to become competent. The
mechanic doesn't work weekends, nights and holidays. You should do a
podcast on the cost of training doctors.
I nearly blew my stack when the idea of paying doctors based on their
patients outcome was proposed. I have a better idea. Health insurance
should be more like life insurance. Everyone is eligible but you will
be charged for certain things. I believe everyone should qualify for
health care and if you have a condition that was not created by the
patient (type I diabetes, autoimmune disorders, genetic defects...) then
you may pay bit more but you still have affordable insurance. If you
suffer from poor health due to obesity, smoking, drug or alcohol abuse
then you pay higher premiums. There needs to be more patient
accountability for their own health. Until a doctor can admit an obese
patient with heart disease into the hospital and control their diet and
exercise for months until they lose weight then we can pay doctors based
on outcomes. There is an idea for a podcast — how much does obesity,
smoking, alcohol and drug abuse cost the system?