Dallas Morning News: Wildly different prices for the same medical procedures, sometimes in the same towns, are prompting doctors and hospitals across the nation to experiment with new ways to cut unpredictable health care spending that often leaves consumers bewildered and financially ruined. In one closely watched test beginning in August, several of California's best-known health care providers.
That's a radical departure from the traditional practice of hospitals and doctors charging separately for their services, a fragmented system that drives up costs while leaving no one to coordinate decisions about patient care. Leading experts say the California experiment and others like it nationwide offer a glimpse into the future of health care spending.
The federal government already is testing similar "bundled" payments for its Medicare program in Colorado, Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. And President Barack Obama's new health care law calls for exploring additional arrangements for surgical services for the elderly and the poor. Advocates believe that greater cooperation among health care providers will ultimately slow the rise of spending and drive down insurance premiums.
Under the new approach, hospitals and doctors say they expect to share in savings when patients recover promptly, while bearing the risk of additional expenses when complications arise.
AP: Several health insurers said Wednesday they plan an early start on a slice of health care reform by pledging to limit the circumstances in which they cancel coverage when a customer gets sick.Let's hope many of these changes will drive down costs. But returning to a system that leaves so many people at financial and medical risk, while the private sector decides whether its worth the expense to change, is inhumane and a public danger.