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The State of Healthcare with Panel of Experts- TBC @LaQuinta

June 13, 2008 @ 12:00 am EDT


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This morning’s program was a panel discussion about health and wellness as well as the aspects of insurance.

The panel consisted of three experts with different perspective. Mike Mussler of Edwards Insurance, Dr Mathew Lewis, president of Health maintenance company and John (last name will be inserted later)  a health program administrator from St Joseph’s College

Mussler circumscribed some of the reasons health insurance is so expensive. Over use of available resources is one reason and that stems from the fact that the user is not accountable. MRI’s are often ordered simply because the plan will pay, but that attitude adds to cost without any increase in patient well- being. He then gave several examples.

When Dr. Lewis presented his opening remarks he stunned us with some statistics. According to the doctor 70% of all illness is preventable. Here is how he backed that up. Only 20% of health issues are attributable to genetics. Another 20% is caused by environmental factors, and 10% is attributable to lack of access to care. The other 50% is attributable to lifestyle. In other words smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, our stress, and food choices play an enormous role in whether we are healthy or not. There is some very good news here as I see it. We can make a serious impact on our good health probabilities, if we pay attention to those factors which are largely within our control.

While the above suggests that we can lower costs, there are other factors. The example of a doctor who spends 1/3 of his income on malpractice insurance drives up costs. We discussed the imposition of a medical compensation board. This would be similar to a workers compensation board. Under such a system all negative medical outcomes would be paid for under a formula. There would be no need to establish culpability under this system. Bad doctors would be ferreted out but the injured patient would be compensated.  This would be preferable to one family collecting many millions, while another family with a similar case could receive very little, or nothing. Usually the way things are settled now the lawyers receive 1/3 of the settlement. It would be interesting to see how that system could be developed, but it may be a good idea. It was also pointed out that most states have limits on medical suits.

According to John, 40% of all deaths are preventable. He also pointed out that as premium costs increase participation decreases, and that too drives up costs further as the insured class shrinks. The last staggering statistic is that we spend $3 trillion on health care in the US. That’s more than any country in the world on a per capita basis, yet we rank 37th in good health outcomes. Obviously this system needs work.

Ernie Fazio