July 3, 2008 · Updated 12:59 PM
"There's something disingenuous about the current debate over the cost of health care.That those costs are high is indisputable. That more people are having difficulty getting their insurance companies to cover doctor visits is beyond debate. Health maintenance organizations, run by the insurance companies, obviously hold the hammer in our current system. Quite often it is money, and not patient care, that plays the biggest factor in which procedures get covered by insurance and which don't. Many health professionals are genuinely dismayed by this. They are swamped by insurance company paperwork. In some instances this system affects the quality of health care that people receive.But roll back the clock about 10 years. At that time, the pendulum was fully on the side of the doctors. There were few limits on what procedures they could prescribe. No matter how costly or questionable, if a doctor deemed a procedure necessary, the insurance companies had to cover it. Some doctors took advantage of this system to build highly lucrative practices. From this, HMOs were born.Doctors aren't awash in cash anymore. It's not that there isn't a lot of money flowing into the health care system. It's just that insurance companies have developed business models that allow them to hang on to more of that money. Many of these companies are profit driven. Their shareholders appreciate the healthy bottom lines.So for many on both sides of this debate, it's not the size of the pie that's being argued about, but who gets most of it. There needs to be an honest assessment of the way we approach health care in this country.Many health professionals are genuine in their desire to serve patients to the best of their abilities. The general public obviously wants this as well. And as popular as it is to bash insurance companies, it's hard to fault them for doing what companies do, which is work to maximize profit and tend the bottom line.We need to find a third way - a way that fairly compensates health professionals, allows insurance companies to stay solvent, and provides affordable, quality health care for the average person. "