Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Health Care and the Elderly.

Another segment on health care and the elderly, reposted at Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly from NPR:

SEVERSON: If Medicare costs are any measure, Miami-Dade County should have the best senior care in the country. The federal health program spends over $16,000 a year per patient. That’s about double the 2006 national average. Brian Keeley is the CEO of Baptist Health South Florida, the largest nonprofit health care system in that part of the state. He says huge Medicare costs do not translate to better health care.

BRIAN KEELEY (CEO, Baptist Health South Florida): We know that more can be injurious to people, and more health care services, more aggressively providing those services, can result in lower levels of care.

SEVERSON: He says there are several factors that bloat health care costs in the Miami area.

KEELEY: There’s a huge imbalance between the number of specialists and primary care physicians, and we have such a high percentage of specialists down over here, they utilize resources more, technology more.

SEVERSON: Dr. Strom, a specialist himself, says one reason there is such a shortage of primary care physicians is that Medicare doesn’t reimburse them enough for patient visits.

DR. STROM: If you spend a lot of time with a patient you will starve to death as a physician because you will only get paid for a certain amount of time. In fact, a lot of physicians will actually steer patients to their offices to have tests performed, because they collect both the professional component, and if they own the equipment, the technical component.

SEVERSON: Dr. Gloria Weinberg is a geriatrician and chair of the department of medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach. She says when young doctors, fresh out of medical school and burdened with school loans, discover how much less a primary physician earns, they choose a specialty where they can make more money.

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