Can a consumer (patient) really comparison shop for their health-care needs?
It seems there are entrepreneurs who want to help. Check the specifics at this website. It will not take long.
In this age of monopoly-money like health care charges, isn’t the notion of comparison shopping a joke?
Sure, you might find one doctor charges 10 or so dollars less for an office visit. Or, maybe the Walgreens clinic will provide needless antibiotics for less than the Kroger clinic.
How would comparison shopping work in the field of heart rhythm management?
AF ablation at hospital A: 50,000 dollars. AF ablation at hospital B: 40,000 dollars. If your co-pay is 2000, does it really matter? For hospital admissions involving ICDs, just add 25,000 more to the above.
Moreover, even if a company could tell a consumer that an ablation would be cheaper at Hospital C, how could they possibly know the inside scoop on a doctor’s skill in such a specialized procedure?
Take as an example, the patient I saw recently for AF consultation. She saw a level-headed non-dabbling ablationist in town, who was less than enthusiastic about ablation. She then went to a “big-name” institution in the northern US, who told her, “yes, of course you should have ablation, we have done thousands…we will do it in 6 months.” A few months before the ablation, the patient gets a letter, from the prestigious doctor at the famous institution, saying that he is moving back to his home country in the Middle East, and will be unavailable to do the ablation. Hmm. Her case was very complex, and I concurred with the humble local AF specialist; that ablation would clearly not be an easy journey, and that other tools might work better.
No worries though, comparative effectiveness research will sort all this out. Yes sirree.
Medical complexity marches on, gone our the days of digoxin for AF, nitrates for angina, and diuretics for heart failure.
Patients want the best. Government wants to provide care to all. Not only, is the real cost of medicine–the 50,000$ ablation and 100,000$ ICD hospitalizations–ignored, the ability for consumers to know who is really the most capable practitioner is limited as well.
In health-care reform, we are at the base of the climb, for sure.