Friday, October 14, 2005

Health Care Bureaucracy

The New York Times reported on the bureaucratic hurdles patients face, especially in regard to paying their health care bills. Some of the quotes in it are priceless:
But become a patient, and you enter a world of paperwork so surreal that it belongs in one of Kafka's tales of the triumph of faceless bureaucracy.
Nothing is as it seems: patients receive statements that often do not reflect what is actually owed; telephone calls to customer service agents are at best time-consuming and at worse fruitless. The explanation of benefits that insurers send out - known as E.O.B.'s - are filled with unintelligible codes.
I'm the president's senior adivser on health information technology, and when I get an E.O.B. for my 4-year old's care, I can't figure out what happened, or what I'm supposed to do - Dr. David Brailer, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
I understand the words of diagnoses and procedures. But codes? No. Or how things are paid or not paid? I don't understand that - Dr. Blackford Middleton, Harvard Medical School
The number of bureaucrats between the point of service and the final cash reckoning is just incredible. - Dr. Thomas Delbanco, Harvard Medical School
You can't be just sick. You have to be sick and drowning in paperwork. It's comical. It's unbelievable. What if I was an elderly person, or a single person? What if I wasn't healthy enough to handle it? - Cancer patient
I'm paying through the nose for this premium, and when I go to the doctor it's a roll of the dice as to whether or not they'll pay it. It seems like it depends on the mood of whoever happens to be doing the claim that day, or on the phases of the moon. - Patient who received three radically different E.O.B.'s from his insurer for three visits for bronchitis
The article also suggested that 30% of US health care expenditures now goes for administration, although it gave no source for this data. If true, that means the US spends more than $300 billion a year on health care bureaucracy.
Funny, I thought those who proposed managed care said it would save money....
Anyone still doubt that there is something horribly wrong with how many of our health care organizations are run?

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