Gee Whiz, Could Health Insurance Companies Really Be Pennywise And Pound Foolish?

pennywise.jpgA couple of weeks ago, after President Obama’s State of the Union, I blogged about seven ideas to cut the costs of our health care. Ideas that, unlike medical malpractice “reform,” would really make a dent in our health care spending. One of the ideas was promoting the use of medical “hotspotting” – identifying the highest-cost patients and providing them with the intensive care that they need.
One study of Camden, NJ’s health care spending found that one-third of the health care pie was spent on the costliest one percent of patients. One patient, whose annual health care bill is in the millions of dollars, was a man in his mid-40s who weighs 650 pounds and suffers from congestive heart failure, asthma, diabetes and hyperthyroidism. Unemployed, he also had no stable address.
Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, the man who did the Camden study, found that the health care costs of patients like the 650-pound man could be cut drastically if we take steps to deliver intensive services to such patients – like making sure they get to follow-up appointments and making sure their prescriptions are refilled.
Now comes a new British Medical Journal study saying that patients fail to follow-up on between 20 and 75 percent of post-discharge medical appointments. And, as reported in the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, a massive survey of doctors reveals that doctors’ number one complaint about patients is “noncompliance with advice or treatment recommendations.”
When you think about all the money that is spent because of missed appointments and the complications that result therefrom, it really boggles the mind. And I’m sure the number of missed appointments could be reduced by a number of low-cost solutions ranging from more insistent phone call reminders to providing a cab for patients who can’t arrange for their own transportation.
Sure, paying for a cab or car service to pick up a particularly needy patient costs a little, but it can also save a lot in the long run.

This blog in maintained by Boston medical malpractice lawyers at The Law Office of Alan H. Crede, P.C. It does not offer legal advice, nor should you construe it as offering legal advice on a medical malpractice claim that you should have.