Thursday, June 28, 2012

Health Care (Insurance) Reform Upheld, but Concentration and Abuse of Power Remain Largely Unaddressed

This may seem like sour grapes, but...  Numerous media reports say that the US Supreme Court has upheld the massive US health care "reform" law (look here for Reuters coverage today, and here, for the Los Angeles Times, for example).  In my humble opinion, the law will likely increase acess to commercial health care insurance, although will likely not reduce the expense of such insurance, or address the misbehavior of many large insurance companies (for example, see our series of posts on AetnaUnitedHealth, WellPoint, and the insurance industry in general, etc, etc).

The law, as we summarized here, does contain a few provisions relevant to the concerns we raise on Health Care Renewal.  These include measures to improve disclosure of certain kinds of conflicts of interest affecting individual physicians and health care academics, and improved funding for comparative effectiveness research.  We hoped that the law would lead to a more rational way to fix payments to physicians that might supplant the secretive, procedure-happy RUC, but so far that hope remains unfulfilled. 

However, as we wrote in 2010, the legislation will leave most of the other problems we discuss on Health Care Renewal untouched. We thus have one or two small steps for mankind in the US, but no reason for complacency.

The news is not bad.  We are probably on balance somewhat better off with some health care insurance reform than none.  However, we are still a long way from meaningfully addressing concentration and abuse of power in health care. There will be no rest for the weary bloggers of Health Care Renewal.

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