Misconceptions - The Future of Healthcare Delivery

The Misconceptions About Healthcare Delivery And Healthcare Reform

Here are some common misconceptions about health care and health care reform. The Future of Health Care Delivery explains these brief responses in detail

Misconception #1 America has the best healthcare in the world. 

Sorry, but this is just not true.

Misconception #2 - Healthcare reform will have an impact on the advances in medical science.

No. Healthcare reform is not about scientific advances; it is about insurance and how to pay for it.

Misconception #3 Health care reform” will offer us better care opportunities.  

No. It will give some form of insurance to those without but will have little or no effect on improving medical care delivery for the rest of us.

Misconception #4 The remarkable advances from basic biologic, engineering and computer science are rapidly made available to the medical care delivery system and  on to the patients who can most benefit.

We should so hope but often that is just not the case

Misconception #5 Healthcare costs will be reduced if we have an electronic medical record.

The EMR will be a major improvement in the delivery of care and should improve safety. It is expensive and it is doubtful that it will have any impact on reducing costs.

Misconception #6 – Universal coverage for all Americans will reduce costs

Having access to medical care will mean better care and that might reduce costs some. But the net impact will be a major increase in costs for someone – the taxpayer.

Misconception #7 Healthcare costs are rising because of the avarice and greed or just unregulated “bad guys,” including  drug and technology companies, doctors, hospitals, malpractice lawyers and third-party payers/insurers.

This is true at the margin but the major reasons for rising costs are an aging population, poor coordination of chronic illnesses, the adverse effects of behaviors such as obesity, preventable medical errors, and physicians’ recommendations for care that is sometimes unnecessary.

Misconception #8 - New technologies are major culprits in rising health care costs

It is a double edged sword. New technologies can be lifesaving and life enhancing and actually reduce total costs of care but used inappropriately they can result in more costs.

Misconception #9 - If my doctor prescribes a drug, orders a test or suggests a medical device, I should go with that recommendation

It is a good idea to discuss each recommendation. Is the drug really necessary and what are its potential side effects? Is a generic available? Will the test result actually guide the therapy? Has the device been proven to be useful for my situation?

Misconception #10 –Comparative effectiveness research will lead to care rationing by the government.

We need good information on what works and what does not. If something does not work, we should not use it and we should not call that rationing.

Misconception #11– Fraud and abuse is a major reason for high costs in the system

For sure there is abuse, but excess regulations and impediments are adversely affecting our care today; more regulation will only make it worse. Streamlining regulations and restraints would save enormous sums of money. Meanwhile those committing actual fraud should be aggressively prosecuted.

Misconception#12– Safety is a problem of poor care but is not a significant cost issue

Not only can an error do harm, it can lead to big cost increases.
For example, a hospital acquired infection can add days to the stay and require an expensive antibiotic with side effects.

Misconception #13 Giving patients more control of their healthcare expenditures will lead to lower costs just as with other elements of the marketplace.

We purchase healthcare differently than we purchase any other service – mostly we take our physician’s recommendation. That said, a high deductible policy will lead to much lower costs of care because we as patients get invested in what is recommended.

Misconception #14 The insurers are the principal culprits for rising cost and therefore premiums.

The insurers deserve approbation for sure but the major reasons for cost escalation are out of their control.

Misconception #15- Primary care physicians do not deal with the expensive aspects of medical care so they can have little impact on reducing medical expenditures.

About 5% of all healthcare expenditures go to PCPs but they can have a major impact on the other 95%, especially with good care coordination of chronic illness and good preventive care for all.

Misconception #16 – Health care is or should be a right – not a privilege and not a responsibility

Health care should be everyone’s birthright but with it must come responsibility to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Misconception #17 - The only health care reform that matters are what the federal government implements; providers and employers can do little

There is a lot that industry, insurers, providers and individuals can do now to improve health and reduce costs.

Misconception #18 If waste in medical care is eliminated or at least markedly curtailed, we will not need to limit what insurance covers.

Sorry, but it will ultimately be necessary to limit what insurance covers.

Misconception #19 – “I cannot do very much to prevent disease as I get older; it all depends on my doctor or what is in my genes.”

Actually you can do a lot to maintain good health and lower your health care costs.

Last Modified: November 1, 2011.

Copyright (c) Stephen C. Schimpff, MD