Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Hospital "does the right thing" but May Hurt Itself in the Process

An interesting article about pediatric asthma has been making rounds at work:
A Hospital Prevents Readmissions, but Threatens Revenue

The article describes a program at Boston Children's where the hospital reaches out to families of children with asthma and provides them with stuff like HEPA filter vacuums and hypoallergenic bedding. The program costs $2,600 per child but saves $3,900 for the hospital for the insurance companies and actually hurts the hospital's bottom line since it cuts back on admissions.

The hospital does this program because "it's the right thing to do" but it can only be sustainable if funded. If the government and health insurers had the foresight to support programs like this they could save their money in payouts to hospital and in the end our money in insurance payments and taxes.

Just one example of the problems in our medical system...


  1. Therein lies the problem with moving to an accountable care organization--it requires that those with the money (insurance companies) are willing to share the savings with the hospitals or docs who save the money. So far, not too many insurers are willing to play the game. My take on this--it won't happen until we have a single payer system--and by then the whole medical system will be broke

  2. I agree, I think the payers will expect us to reduce our costs on our own and basically risk shift to hospital. They will basically say, "form and ACO and save yourself some money since we're going to cut what we pay you." I'm not sure that single payer will fly in America since we all want everything "our way, right away" which single payer does not provide. Also, single payer will reduce the salaries of MDs and with fewer and fewer people taking the thankless job of entering primary care that's not what we need.