Tuesday, September 18, 2012
BLOGSCAN - Why Not Just Pay Physicians By the Hour?
We have frequently discussed how perverse incentives are spread around health care. In the US, the physicians are paid according to a system that provides strong incentives for doing procedures, (see our posts about how the RUC has encouraged this bias towards procedures.) Since physicians are the most influential "deciders" about the care of individual patients, these incentives encourage overtesting and overtreatment with the highest technology, driving up costs and subjecting patients to increased risks of adverse events. The recent health care reform law, however, essentially encouraged a version of capitated payment, which might very well provide incentives for undertreatment and undertesting. For years, Dr Robert Centor has argued logically and forcefully for paying physicians for the time they spend on behalf of payments, very analogous to how lawyers and many other professionals are paid. This might provide much more neutral, less perverse incentives than would existing or other proposed physician payment schemes. Dr Centor argued again for this seemingly reasonable and logical idea on his DB's Medical Rants blog. The big question is why this idea has been so anechoic?