Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mugglie on Health Care Costs

Social Worker and periodic commenter Cindy Mugglie has this to say about commercialism and the cost of health care:

The commercialism of health care must have something to do with rising costs. Just the other day I heard of a study that found people who see television ads about medications are more likely to get prescriptions for those meds than are people who do not see the television ads. So there you have people making extra trips to the doctor and taking more medications, things that might not happen but for television ads.

About 5 years ago I got a card in the mail telling me that some state of the art diagnostic testing facility on wheels would be in my area. It went into detail about the various healthcare tests that everyone should have and how I should not miss the opportunity, as they would be in the area for a very short time. I didn't pay much attention until my elderly clients started saying they had received the same cards and asking if I thought this was important (I was a social worker in senior housing at the time). Should they have these tests? I directed them to ask their doctors, and they all reported back; their doctors had told them these were all unnecessary tests that would only be done if they had symptoms indicating a need, and to top it all off, the tests were not covered by any kind of insurance if not ordered by a doctor. Hands down the doctors said it was a rip off! I reported the situation to the state attorney general but I can't recall the outcome. I've always wondered how many people were convinced to throw hundreds of dollars into having those tests.

I also wonder, could health care costs be rising due to technology? Are the machines and equipment used for health care improved and updated so often that there is a need to buy newer and better models every few years, and if so, are the newer models really all that much better or is the newer and better label just a way to sell more products?

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