Columns highlighted health care problems
I would like to comment further on two very good Another Voice articles that recently appeared in The News. The first, by Donna Evans-Deyermond, exposes the fact that insurers spend more than $50 million a year (half a billion over 10 years) to market and sell their policies. I would like to know, as would most of my colleagues, how many children could be vaccinated or how medication prices could be reduced for the elderly and poor with that money.
She also comments on the exorbitant price of pharmaceuticals. Talk about being spot on! “The Big 3” insurers in Western New York, Independent Health, Univera and BlueCross BlueShield, could easily combine their buying power and get a steeper discount for bulk buying together rather than individually. The subsequent savings could be passed on to their subscribers.
Another thing that would yield millions of savings every year would be to stop paying pharmacists to count pills. For decades, the same medications sold in the United States are sold prepackaged in Europe. The manufacturers already possess the technology and machines. Why go to pharmacy school to count pills in the 21st century? Someone with a simple high school diploma could count up to 30, 60, 90, etc., and then put the pills in a bottle. Would not their skill set be better suited to full-time counseling?
Polypharmacy would decrease and compliance would more than likely increase, just to mention a couple of benefits. If the insurers want value, here you go. I have many commonly prescribed prepackaged medications at my office from Europe they could look at, for example, Lisinopril.
The second article, written by Thomas Foels, M.D., from Independent Health, correctly notes that “doctors have one eye on the patient and the other on the clock.”
An ever-increasing number of physicians and physician groups have timers in examination rooms. Why? Time is money. In order to see four to six patients, or more, an hour, you must stay on time. Another gimmick is for their cellphones to go off when time is up.
He also writes the average time spent with a patient is 13 to 16 minutes. This has got to change. I have heard hundreds of complaints from my patients that they do not like looking at the top of the head or back of their physician because they must complete their electronic health record. They want eye contact again!
Joseph S. Testa, M.D.