Do we just give up for now? I don’t think that is advisable. Too much is at stake. And there are many other significant ways, all far less politically charged, and therefore more politically possible, that we could improve the American health care system.One of the most important ways we could improve things is through administrative simplification. Modern health care workers and patients alike are caught in a huge tangle of administrative paperwork, confusing rules, and confounding regulations. It is estimated that one-third of every dollar spent on health care in America goes towards administrative costs. Therefore, reducing the administrative burden could significantly lower the overall costs of health care to the nation (or we could increase the amount we spend on actual medical care). Administrative simplification would be relatively easy and should be politically palatable. Done well, it could be wildly popular with both patients and physicians.
The American medical billing and coding system is long overdue for just such a makeover. Getting paid for even the most basic medical goods and services is a multi-stepped, convoluted nightmare that creates huge and unnecessary costs, and invites mistakes and abuses. Ridiculously complicated coding systems and documentation requirements are the rule and have the same effect. It is a distraction for all medical professionals almost every moment of the day. Medical practices must focus on billing and payment issues almost more than medical care.
After the many bureaucratic changes that followed the passing of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and other legislation, patient care has become secondary to satisfying the whims of government and giant insurance company administrators, who are in total control. The result is a web of complicated rules and misguided programs whose chief effect has been to distract doctors and nurses from their proper focus on patient care. Access to health care now depends on the ability of patients, doctors, and nurses to navigate in and around this cumbersome and ever-changing system.Improving health in the United States should not be a political problem. Whose problem is it ?