Thursday, September 11, 2014

Top 5 Issues in Healthcare

When you hear "healthcare issue" what comes to mind?  Does lack of service, quality of service or insurance coverage come into perspective when you think of healthcare issues?  In this post I'm going to talk about five major health care issues our nation is facing today, as well as how each one affects patients.

First, there is too much unnecessary healthcare being provided to the extent that patients needs are accommodated and then some.  This may not sound like an issue at all, but it is creating extra costs for the government adding up to hundreds of billions of dollars annually which is detrimental to productivity.  Second, preventable harm to patients is one of the most common forms of healthcare problems because it is primarily based on the physicians error, whether it be a misdiagnosis or faulty procedure.  This is a growing issue because it can easily be avoided to keep the patients safer as well as save money for the treatment of other patients.  Statistics say that one in every four patients is misdiagnosed which is a staggering number because it is costing insurance providers as well as patients more money in the long run depending on the extent of the treatment.

Next, as i touched upon before billions of dollars of healthcare money are wasted annually.  In a report done by the Institute of Medicine Health they state that at least a third of health costs are wasted every year becoming a rising issue for the industry as a whole.  Another healthcare issue is perverse incentives on patients paying for healthcare.  Usually, health plans with Medicare and Medicaid pay for whatever services are provided for the benefit of the patient.  Unfortunately, as an example, early elective deliveries of babies are encouraged by our industries payment system because they provide the most money for Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) centers which are basically just profit centers across the country.  Many studies suggest that reducing the numbers of these premature births may eliminate as much as half a million NICU centers across the country which will lower health costs for the country but financially hurt hospitals.  Employers and states across the country have begun trying to reverse these incentives but they are still unfortunately the only exceptions that are proving the horrible rule of incentive payments.

Finally, the lack of transparency in the healthcare industry is showing that patients may not know as much as they should when it comes to choosing healthcare.  The prime example of this is once again early elective deliveries because the numbers of these deliveries has continued to rise over the years despite all of the warnings from medical societies.  Not until recently these rates declined from 17% to 11.2% because patients are just starting to become aware of these statistics.  The overall message from this issue is that patients deserve to know what exactly they are getting into when it comes to choosing healthcare providers and treatments to lower costs for themselves and stay safer.

For patients and providers the next big step is to keep up pressure against these deliveries and other potentially harmful unnecessary procedures to hopefully soon inflict real change in the industry as a whole.

EVERA.  Everyone should feel this good about healthcare.


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