Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

HEALTH CARE; Seeking Solutions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

HEALTH CARE; Seeking Solutions

Article excerpt

There is only one thing worse than doing nothing about a major problem affecting 300 million people. That's doing the wrong thing.

One is reminded of that truism when reading about Mayo Clinic's National Symposium on Health Care Reform, which took place recently in Leesburg, Va.

Costs will bankrupt the country if they continue rising at current rates. Yet surprising numbers of people get inadequate care.

GOOD CONCEPTS

The group's recommendations, not all of which were necessarily endorsed by Mayo, are solid.

They included, according to a presentation made to the Times-Union editorial board by George Bartley, chief executive officer of Mayo Clinic Jacksonville:

- Tie payments, somehow, to outcomes and wellness.

- Health care providers need electronic medical records, accessible to patients and providers alike.

- Government should ensure universal coverage.

Some people arguably don't need insurance - either because they're financially viable or young and in good health.

But if healthy people get the wrong disease, they can go broke.

Half of all men get cancer, according to U.S. News & World Report, and a round of chemotherapy alone "can easily cost $5,000."

It makes more sense for everyone to have coverage, so they pay for their own catastrophic medical costs through insurance rather than saddling the taxpayers.

Besides 2,400 people die a year in Florida - more than six a day - "due to a lack of health insurance," according to Families USA, a consumer-oriented health care advocacy group.

PICKING A DOCTOR

Mayo's Web site reports that one speaker said: "All Americans must be guaranteed their choice of doctors and hospitals."

But that would put upward pressure on costs.

Let people pay extra, if they want that option. But for those amenable to selecting from a list, let them do that at lower cost.

MORE CHOICES?

Another questionable proposal: "Employers, government and individuals must share responsibility for financing the system."

That's true in one sense. Government should continue providing for indigents. And others should be served by the private sector. …

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