Friday, March 26, 2010

Patient Money - How Doctors Would Cut Health Care Costs - Brief -

In persuading Congressional Democrats to pass the health care overhaul, President Obama addressed one of the most pressing issues facing the country: providing broader access to medicalinsurance for as many as 32 million Americans who do not now have it.

For many of the rest of us, the benefits could still be substantial once the law takes full effect in 2014. People with pre-existing medical conditions could no longer be denied insurance. All lifetime and annual limits on coverage would be eliminated. And new policies would be required to meet higher benefit standards.

But the new law does not tackle head-on the staggering cost of health care in the United States, which eats up $2.3 trillion a year, about 16.2 percent of our gross domestic productaccording to the Department of Health and Human Services.

That raises the ultimate Patient Money question: How can the country reduce health care costs while not compromising quality?

During the health care debate, government officials, insurers, drug companies and medical associations all weighed in with their opinions. But what about the people who receive so much of our out-of-pocket health care payments: the doctors on the medical front lines? What do they think the country — in other words, you and me — should do to help moderate costs?

I turned to some of the doctors I've interviewed over the last year and asked them to prescribe remedies for high medical costs. Here is what they said. (The remarks have been edited and condensed.)

More ...