Medical care costs a lot of money. Most patients do not understand how much care actually cost. For that matter, most doctors do not understand how much the care that they provide actually costs. Recently, I participated in a Twitter-chat (#meded, on Thursday nights, 9 pm EST) on issues around the costs of care and how it should be stressed more often than it is. Several take-home points are worth expanding upon, and other thoughts came to mind after participating in this wonderful online discussion.
Doctors and doctors-in-training should be educated on the costs of the care that they provide. This is becoming more important given the issues at hand regarding the economy; the percentage of the GDP which is attributed to health care continues to increase. This increase is not sustainable.
There are others who are making strides to educate health care professionals about the costs of care; here is one such group: http://www.costsofcare.org/
Our medical system in the United States is costing way too much money, yet many feel that reimbursement should be higher than it is. While I personally understand the views from each side, I do feel that we can lower costs and improve quality, but it will take a team effort to be able to accomplish this laudable goal.
Prevention still costs less than subsequent treatment. Money invested in prevention is money well spent.
Administrative costs (including time) seem to be taking up more and more of physicians’ time. Burdensome paperwork requirements are what frustrate many physicians and take them away from what they are trained to do best: care for patients. Administrative issues might be what drives many away from continuing in the noble profession of medicine.
Doctors are still paid very well in our society compared with other professions. While some are paid less (e.g. primary care physicians such as myself), they still are paid quite well.
Something ought to be done about the costs of medical care. As we still need to provide adequate care to all, the million-dollar question is “what”?