Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm just asking

Yesterday we learned that health care in Wisconsin leads the nation in quality indicators measured by the US Department of US Department of Heath and Human Services. We are. of course, used to hearing that we pay well above the average for health care. (One local blogger made that point only a few days ago.)

Is it possible that we get what we pay for?

Update: Here's a study that suggests we may not.


Anonymous said...

I suppose the answer to your uselessly abstract question might be "yes, kinda." If health care is nonetheless out of reach for a lot of us, we still have a problem.

er, actually, the answer is no. the regional inflation rates in health care costs in wisconsin cannot be explained by "quality" alone. the regional market has certain competitive disconnects that are exploited by the very biggest players to drive costs up faster than almost anywhere in the country.

Anonymous said...

If you don't recieve good health for your money then the answer is no.

The two things they do is give you drugs or surgery. If you get caught in that trap you'll learn that both are not very good for you.

There is a reason why our Health care industry is so large, its because we are so unhealthy and the industry doesn't do much to encourage good health.

It's sucking our economy down the drain.

Jim Bouman said...

There is, coming to town on June 29, a major new documentary on the quality and accessibility of the US Health Care System. Some of the answer to Shark/Shepherd's question could possibly be found there.

Is it worth watching, considering the source?'s the FOX NEWS review:

'Sicko' Shows Michael Moore's Maturity as a Filmmaker

Sunday , May 20, 2007
By Roger Friedman

FOX News

Filmmaker Michael Moore's brilliant and uplifting new documentary, "Sicko," deals with the failings of the U.S. healthcare system, both real and perceived. But this time around, the controversial documentarian seems to be letting the subject matter do the talking, and in the process shows a new maturity.

Unlike many of his previous films ("Roger and Me," "Bowling for Columbine," "Fahrenheit 9-11"), "Sicko" works because in this one there are no confrontations. Moore smartly lets very articulate average Americans tell their personal horror stories at the hands of insurance companies. The film never talks down or baits the audience.

"This film is a call to action," Moore said at a press conference on Saturday. "It's also not a partisan film."

Indeed, in "Sicko," Moore criticizes both Democrats and Republicans for their inaction and in some cases their willingness to be bribed by pharmaceutical companies and insurance carriers.

In a key moment in the film, Moore takes a group of patients by boat to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba because of its outstanding medical care. When they can't get into the U.S. naval base, Moore proceeds onto Havana where the patients are treated well and cheaply.

This has caused a great deal of controversy, with the federal government launching an investigation into the trip, which officials say was in violation of the trade and commerce embargo against the Communist country.

"This administration flaunts the law, flaunts the constitution," Moore said at the press conference, explaining the flap over the trip to Cuba.

Moore now claims the U.S. government says his Cuban footage may be illegal, and Moore said he made a second master copy of "Sicko" and had it shipped it to France immediately just in case of potential government issues.

jp said...

Are we getting a good deal on healthcare in Wisconsin? The industry in largely influenced by large not for profits (naturally inefficient) and government programs (naturally bureaucratic). The test of worthiness is quality, price, and accessibility.

jp said...

Thank you for your comment. I will be watching.

Anonymous said...

Now I'm confused. I thought I wasn't supposed to believe anything from Fox News.

Dad29 said...

the regional market has certain competitive disconnects that are exploited by the very biggest players to drive costs up faster than almost anywhere in the country.


Let's begin with WEAC's "Zero-Cost" health-care bennies package. Then we can go to the UAW's similar package. Then AFSCME's similar package.

"Disconnected from reality"?

You bet.

Rick Esenberg said...

The reason that I asked the "uselessly abstract question" is that I don't know the answer and am not certain that anyone else does either. We constantly hear that we pay "too much" for health care, yet, it seems, that what we pay is largely a function of what people (through their employers) demand and what employers (in order to retain and attract workers) are willing to pay.

There are, of course, disconnects and flaws with that hypothesis. Consumers have less concern for the price of their health care than they do when purchasing other things (although their employers are quite concerned) and there are problems stemming from the existence of the uninsured and from the (non-health) market distortions that arise from tying insurance to employment. But it seems like a more organic and consumer-responsive way of deciding "how much" to spend on health care than having the state make that choice for us.

jp said...

The purest consumer-responsive way of deciding “how much” to spend on healthcare is for the "sicko" to purchase directly from the provider (like the “good old days”?). I wonder if my doctor would accept organic produce for his service.

Dad29 said...


The cited study in your poat, Rick, tells us what we already suspect: different hospitals get different (sometimes wildly different) prices for the same procedure--usually with similar results.

Until the price-comparisons emerge, however, consumers have a problem: no hospital will talk.

And another thing: referring MD's.

We're now in an interesting situation, in that referring MD's are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the hospital corporations.

That's VERY good if you're pregnant in West Bend and the MD is a staffer in their hospital (cheap, cheap.)

It's VERY bad if your kid is sick in Milwaukee and your MD is on staff at Children's.

jp said...

Price-comparison of the future.

A free market model for healthcare would likely include outsourcing.

Those with above average resources could fly (first Class of course) anywhere in the world to receive the best possible care available. Others like me would fly economy class. The most cost effective way to service the poor would be to send them by boat possibly to India. The nursing home industry could teleport T18 and T19 to say China.