1538 Words May 25th, 2005 7 Pages
HMOs: The Health Care of the Beast

Many people are concerned about rising health care costs. In reaction to this, some individuals and companies are gravitating toward the assumed lower prices of Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) health plans. HMOs spend billions of dollars each year advertising their low cost services. While these savings look good on paper, there are many pages of small print. The explanation after the asterisk indicates that not only do the HMOs lack lower costs, but they also short-change the patient in quality care. Much of the money spent on premiums goes directly into the pockets of stockholders and less is then available for patient care. In addition, the main clinical decisions are made not by doctors, but
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HMOs are not the only answers to cost control. Most physicians practicing in the United States consider their profession to be very much a form of art (Kleinke). The definition of art infers that within its sphere there are many variations and preferences. After all, one should not ask Picasso to carve like Michelangelo. Physicians too differ in their methods of treating patients. However when needless tests and procedures are done the treatment will cost more. This is waste. Many suggest that cutting waste will lead to a cut in quality. This is not necessarily true. Consider the following: an otherwise healthy forty-year-old male comes to a clinic complaining of a sore throat. This is a good nonspecific symptom, so naturally some tests are done. Some blood is drawn, a culture taken, and an electrocardiogram performed. An EKG in this case is not medically necessary, but many physicians still do not hesitate to order one. By eliminating useless procedures, lower cost can be maintained. To determine which procedures are useless, scientists would need to perform ongoing studies of patients that fall under their investigative categories. For instance, every year about 80,00 Americans get a carotid endarterectomy, a kind of Roto-Rooter