Friday, December 05, 2008

Overhead vs. Access

A glimpse of the problem from Dr. Thomas E. Chappell of (relatively rural) Cumberland, Maryland:
Maryland ranks 48th in physician reimbursement by health care insurers. We have a monopoly of two heath care carriers that dominate the market and cover 85 percent of those insured. Our legislature would not tolerate this domination in any other industry. In many cases reimbursements have dropped by 50 percent over the past 10 years.

Has anyone seen a drop in premiums? Instead we are seeing a growth of over 10 percent per year. Where is this money going? Certainly not to our health care. Administrative overhead and inefficiency are consuming health care dollars at a voracious pace. Insurance company CEOs are given bonuses and buyouts that often exceed $100 million. It is the same broken system that is bankrupting Wall Street.

What can we do? On a national level, the progress will be slow and painful to gear up training of new physicians. On a local level we can urge our local and statewide elected representatives to take serious measures to address the physician migration out of our state and to find ways to promote our local students in training with enticements to return home to practice.

We need to strive hard to maintain quality medical care in this community as we embark on a new era in the new Western Maryland Hospital System hospital. We have built it but will they come?
As a physician formerly licensed in Maryland, I think he knows my answer.


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