Here's my thing. The government isn't just out of money, we're borrowing just to float everything we're already doing. We need to stop that trend and go the other direction or our future is going to contain much more significant economic problems than those we've seen recently. So that said, we simply can't spend billions right now on healthcare hand-outs. Period, end of story.
Face it, nobody is denied healthcare now. Is it a problem that some people might have catastrophic healthcare events that cause them to have to file bankruptcy? Sure. But this situation has existed for a long time now, and that's what those financial protections are in place for!
What should we do? Everything we can do to ease healthcare costs that does NOT cost huge government dollars. Tort reform is a great start. Sure, some claim that the additional insurance costs to cover the huge lawsuits only amounts to some very small percentage of healthcare dollars. That may be true, but it's also true that doctors order something on the order of a few BILLION in tests that they wouldn't otherwise order to cover their own butts in the interest of staying OUT of court. Why? Because in many cases even GOING to court can cause them to become uninsured and thus basically out of work.
We could also investigate what other countries do, such as forcing healthcare insurers to go completely non-profit for that kind of insurance. Or kill that business entirely in favor of a government regulated non-profit that does it. All the models change dramatically when that happens, and we no longer don't worry about paying for huge insurance company profits, but we can also drop a LOT of current administration costs where insurance companies are having to do some much checking behind hospital administrators to protect their profit numbers. The insurer can now work WITH hospitals instead of against them.
There's probably a few more things the government can do without spending huge money that will help. I'm fine with everything we can do that doesn't cause huge spending. Just getting these things done would help in a big way. And not cause taxes to go up or the deficit to get large amounts worse.
So I've been holding back, but I do have a few comments:
Doctors will still order the tests because it has become the "standard of care" and patients have grown to expect the best health care available. Would you be willing to forgo a test that could save your loved one's life or help diagnoses their illness? Wouldn't you feel cheated if you were denied technology/information that could help?
So here's the deal: doctors (as you said) don't want to get sued AT ALL because even GOING to court can be devasting. So there's no incentive to order fewer tests. Just because a judgement may be limited, it is still a strike on your record.
For the record, I am in favor of tort reform for other reasons, I just don't think the effect on HC costs will be that direct.
It's not about doctors or insurance companies suddenly being able to deny doing the test because they didn't feel like it. It's about them no longer ordering tests that they are pretty sure won't help but will CYA in the incredibly off chance something strange happens.
Will it be a huge help? Certainly not in the near term, no. But long term? I think so. Will tort reform itself help lower costs thanks to lower insurance payouts? I think it could help more than people think here. It's not just about the payouts, but about legal fees in defending frivolous suits that never even make it very far but are attempted anyway in hopes of settlements and the like. Sadly, we may never see this day thanks to the legal lobby. *sigh*
And I'm not saying doctors are doing anything wrong now in what they do. I'd CYA, too, with the stakes being that high!
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