Health Savings or Saved Health

The federal government is proclaiming transparency in at least one program by listing the price Medicare will pay for 30 common procedures. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt predicts, “As we give consumers better information on how their health care dollars are spent, they will demand more value for their money, and the result will be better treatment at lower costs.”

No one can complain about giving people more information, but Leavitt’s syllogism is off. An old sick person is not likely to be capable or interested in sifting through it, and if the information is bereft of quality measures, what’s the point, beyond once again blaming the consumer for high health costs?

The administration is also going to demand legislation forcing Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the most popular health plan of the huge corps of federal employees, to “offer” them a Health Savings Account option. The result will be to skim off younger and wealthier workers and force the older, poorer and most at risk to pay higher premiums.

Maybe there will be health savings, but there won’t be much saved health.

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