How health reform and health IT reform are linked

How health reform and health IT reform are linked

Summary: Money is wasted supporting a market whose main function is to waste money, and the political will to cut through that does not exist because opponents of efficiency call it "socialism."

SHARE:
10

According to the 2009 Employer Health Benefits Survey of the Kaiser Family Foundation, health care in America now costs $13,375 per family.

Kaiser came up with this number through a complex survey which it placed online.

The figure was up 5% in a year where inflation was actually negative and wages rose just 3%.

Liberal columnist Ezra Klein writes that most people who have insurance don't know this because employers are carrying 73% of the costs. All of the average raise over the last 30 years has been swallowed by health care price increases.

One conservative argument that might drive change is the concept of actually making people pay that money out of their own pocket. The plan of John McCain from last year, offering a $5,000 per family tax credit and telling people they must all buy care in the market, was about as popular as puppy pot roast.

Liberals don't say this, but the best way to break the logjam over health care might be to pass a Republican plan that forced people to confront the real costs of their care, then offer a public plan as an alternative.

Unfortunately that is not the way the system works. A Republican plan would pass only with a Republican Congress and Republican President. We had that for six years, and nothing happened. Maybe they know something about the reaction to their reform in action?

So what we're left with is a Democratic Congress and Democratic President offering tweaks to "bend the cost curve" (the same comparative effectiveness research being used now by insurance companies) but without the support to impose competition in the form of  a public plan.

It's a bit like the situation facing health IT, as described in a column by two Johns Hopkins cardiologists.

The simple solution, they write, would be to get everyone behind an open source solution, like the VA's VistA program.

For a fraction of the $19.2 billion in the HITECH stimulus, VistA could be turned into a crackerjack Electronic Health Record (EHR) solution, and even deployed. The stimulus could even cover hardware costs.

But that is not going to happen. Instead the money will go into creating standards vendors may or may not meet, and subsidizing the purchase of gear that may or may not meet the standards.

In this way health IT and health reform are closely linked. Money is wasted supporting a market whose main function is to waste money, and the political will to cut through that does not exist because opponents of efficiency call it "socialism."

At the present rate of inflation, by the way, health care will cost over $30,000 per year, per family, by the end of the next decade. So how long do you want the political dance to continue?

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Health

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

10 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Socailist Government control

    Government to 'peasant':

    I know your medical history.
    I know when you go.
    I know how many ailments you had.
    I will ration you on treatment.
    This may be viewable to a potential employer.

    Dictator driven government by someone who will call people un-American for not wanting this, or they are a fringe when 3/4 of Americans have health insurance and you punish the people who work for it.......

    Good grief, people have a choice:

    A. Get an education

    B. Change your lifestyle that leads to poor living.

    C. Stop relying on the Government to feed you.

    The Government has been running printing presses wildly with TRILLIONS of dollars of debt with NO stopping.

    We import everything from China, produce nothing.

    Jobs are fleecing away except for corrupt politicians who tell you that YOU will do as the BIG Government says or else.

    Something is wrong, CHANGE it back to the way it was.

    We did not have CZARS ruling America before, what is this RUSSIA???

    :(
    Christian_<><
    • You don't listen

      The "socialist" section -- where you have the government dictating to the peasant -- that's what the present system is like. That's how health insurance works. And the answer is usually no.

      As to how we got here, everyone knows that. $1 trillion for a war that wasn't paid for, $1 trillion for tax cuts that weren't paid for.

      It's like you never read what is written. You just parrot your ideology at everything and everyone. How is that different from the systems you condemn? Answer. It's not.
      DanaBlankenhorn
  • VistA is MUMPS

    MUMPS? Seriously?

    sarahm300
    • Yuck...

      I have worked with VistA quite a bit over the last 8 years. The thought of having to continue to deal with MUMPS makes my skin crawl ;-)
      krdavis
  • I agree!

    we are tired of this socialst foreign ideeas being imposed on the American people.
    We have the best health care system in the world and shoul not pay attention to what other doomed socialst nations are doing.
    At the end of the day they will collapse and we will emerge as a role model.
    Linux Geek
    • Now that's funny!

      Of course we will emerge, as long as we don't get buried by uncontrolled
      price increase that make it unaffordable for employers and normal
      families.
      Ken_z
      • just let the competition work

        And pricess will come down!
        Just look how fast the microprocessors prices went down. Same would be true for insurance rates.
        Linux Geek
        • There isn't any

          There is collusion. Insurance companies make
          more money when they charge more for premiums
          they don't pay on claims. There is nothing in
          the market that encourages them to. The prices
          aren't coming down. We pay more for healthcare
          and get less for it than any other G8 nation.
          Healthcare reform isn't about socialism vs
          capitalism. We don't necessarily need the
          public option. However, we do need healthcare
          reform. If we had no regulations, you and I
          would still be working in the steel mill 70
          hours a week for $2 and hour under hazardous
          conditions. It's about fair play...that's all.
          bmonsterman
          • Collusion is encouraged

            There are vast economic benefits to collusion in every market. It's an end state in nearly every market.

            Government has tools to end collusion. Government can use them, or choose not to use them.
            DanaBlankenhorn
    • message meant for christian_<>

      .
      Linux Geek