Sunday, July 21, 2013

"[O]ne of the fundamental flaws in the pricing of U.S. health care"

The Washington Post ran a story Saturday about how the American Medical Association's "assumptions about procedure times" distorts how much doctors are paid. A key excerpt:
Take, for example, those colonoscopies. In justifying the value it assigns to a colonoscopy, the AMA estimates that the basic procedure takes 75 minutes of a physician’s time, including work performed before, during and after the scoping. But in reality, the total time the physician spends with each patient is about half the AMA’s estimate — roughly 30 minutes, according to medical journals, interviews and doctors’ records. Indeed, the standard appointment slot is half an hour. To more broadly examine the validity of the AMA valuations, The Post conducted interviews, reviewed academic research and conducted two numerical analyses: one that tracked how the AMA valuations changed over 10 years and another that counted how many procedures physicians were conducting on a typical day. It turns out that the nation’s system for estimating the value of a doctor’s services, a critical piece of U.S. health-care economics, is fraught with inaccuracies that appear to be inflating the value of many procedures.

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