Healthcare Dysfunction Spawns Its Own Myths

Shannon Brownlee, the author of Overtreated, manages to rearrange my perspective from time to time.  She takes the facts I have learned, or the concepts I study, and makes me see them in an entirely different light. I may not always agree with her!  But I never fail to learn plenty.

This recent article penned (or keyboarded?) by Ms. Brownlee is no exception.  5 Myths on Our Sick Health Care System — I invite you to take a look.

Among the five myths, here are the points that were new to me, or provided me with a new perspective:

1.  Myth:  someone else is paying for your healthcare.
I know this — and you do, too — but we haven’t thought about it this way.  Ms. Brownlee is referring to the fact that we have employer-based health insurance.  We make the leap, then, that our employers are providing us with coverage.  BUT — in fact — if your employer didn’t pay for a portion of your coverage, then that money would be paid directly to you — and YOU would write the check.

2.  Myth: Administrative costs drive up the cost of care.
The administrative costs of private insurance — often suggested to be at the heart of healthcare that is too expensive — would not save as much money as we may think.  Ms. Brownlee suggests that simply cutting out that cost would not even pay to cover the uninsured.  I have to respectfully suggest that while cutting those costs may not be ONE problem with costs, reducing them would be a good start.  Overinflated salaries of those who are in a position to deny its customers care is a lot like the CEOS of car companies taking private planes to Washington.  It is representative of the dysfunction, if not the core of it.  (And yes, I do get her point that there are valuable services performed by the insurance companies — and I agree — but that doesn’t mean the ranks aren’t bloated and too expensive.)

3.  More reform is cheaper. (This is not a myth — it’s a premise.)
This one is full of information I didn’t know.  And Ms. Brownlee suggests that Senator Wyden’s healthcare reform proposal may be the way to go.  You’ll want to take a look.

I know most of my readers are more interested in specific tools for improving their own care.  But sometimes a grasp of the bigger picture helps us prepare for what’s in our future.  Take a look at these 5 myths — see if you agree, or what questions you might have.

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Trisha Torrey
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