Thursday, July 09, 2009
Healthcare costs: the Atul Gawande New Yorker essay
Do expensive state of the art medical facilities correlate with better health outcomes? In this superb essay, surgeon and writer Atul Gawande tells us how, in certain places in the United States, technology can collude with strange monetary incentives to increase health care costs and reduce the quality of care. Physicians are leaning towards more tests, more scans, more surgeries -- all of which generate revenue -- when simpler wait-and-watch alternatives would have been preferable. And there is no conspiracy here: the system in the United States seems to have subconsciouly evolved this way because of the incentives in place. Atul Gawande travels to the city of McAllen, Texas and makes the argument that the overutilization of medical resources has sent costs skyrocketing. And he tells us that only by trimming the fat from the system will Obama be able to finance healthcare reform.