Senators Question PODs

With increasing volume, physicians are under attack for a variety of financial arrangements. The latest involves a group of Senators asking the OIG to look into PODs. While there may be some abuse of the POD arrangement, it’s time to refocus our efforts on a system that facilitates these conditions rather than demonizing physicians on a regular basis.

Specifically, we have a health care payments infrastructure in which patients rarely understand or deal with the actual cost of their care. We have usurped an industry (insurance) to handle healthcare payments and the result is so convoluted that we spin our wheels creating and chasing demons that need not exist.

If patients truly understood and were directly affected by the costs of their various health procedures…guess what? They’d be far less apt to go along with spine fusion after spine fusion for example. They would seriously research and question far more than they do today…and that level of consumer involvement is a good thing.

But, as long as consumers think some genie in Washington DC pays for whatever they need to stay afloat, then we’ll continue to treat the cough and not the underlying disease.

[As a supporting aside, I read a comment in the paper last night mentioning the risk of not getting healthcare treatment when one does not have insurance. This is an example of how off-base this dialogue has become and the media willingly propagates the bastardized role of insurance.

Insurance by definition involves covering a person/group for unforeseen costs in exchange for previously arranged payments. Somewhere along the line in the healthcare industry, this was distorted to become a magical means to pay one’s healthcare costs.

Nonsense. Healthcare has a cost. The cost is either covered by A) the consumer of the services directly, or B) an employer, or C) by all of our vice vie our taxes. There is no free lunch. (except the billions of dollars in uncovered care absorbed by doctors and hospitals. Aside from true insurance products, insurance companies are payment middlemen in this industry.

They pay for nothing. They take $1 from party A and pay $.90 to party B. No true risk instrument involved in that scenario at all.]

Here is an excerpt from the WSJ article on the Senatorial investigation. Click HERE to read the entire article.

Five U.S. senators asked the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services to open an investigation into physician-owned distributorships, middleman entities that allow surgeons to profit from the medical devices they use on their patients, to determine whether they are legal.

The senators’ request was accompanied by the release of a Senate Finance Committee report compiled by the office of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the committee, on the proliferation of such entities in the spine and orthopedic surgery.

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