A political issue that neither Barack Obama nor John McCain has addressed is an emerging development in health care, obvious in retrospect, but with tremendous implications for virtually every patient in America. It is the marriage of credit and medical histories, an inevitable partnership being consummated by at least one company already collecting information about how reliably patients pay their medical bills. Other companies are sure to follow what is essentially a means of creating a credit score related to a patient's health status with the clear goal of predicting his or her future ability to pay.But as is so often true with the clever new initiatives afoot in healthcare management, it's sold as being good for the patient:
The rationale behind this effort is that the credit profiles are in the best interest of patients. Hospitals and doctors will be able to provide patients with better payment strategies and allocate charity care more efficiently.As this blog has demonstrated many times, the obfuscation of medical pricing and insurance payments, coupled with the the growing movement of physician-employees (can you say, "hospitalists?") aligned with the hospitals' financial interests, rather than the patients', focuses our eye on the brewing storm ahead.
This sounds suspiciously like the Orwellian logic that characterizes modern corporate health care. The credit industry's misbehavior in the subprime mortgage debacle certainly leaves open the possibility that any benefits patients may realize could be dwarfed by major obstacles that could stand in the way of medical treatment. This includes fraud, medical identity theft and plain old credit reporting errors.
An even more ominous threat would be prescreening patients before medical treatment is provided. ...