Future Tech Health Care Politics Theraputics

New fee coming for medical effectiveness research

 Another hidden provision of the new health care law as reported by AP.

Starting in 2012, the government will charge a new fee to your health insurance plan for research to find out which drugs, medical procedures, tests and treatments work best. But what will Americans do with the answers?

via New fee coming for medical effectiveness research | AP | 12/28/2011.

As with most of these things on the surface research to determine which drugs, treatments and procedures work best seems like a good idea.  Never the less there are some serious areas of concern.

“The government does not have patients it has interest groups.”

Will the “best treatments” be manipulated by payers to force patients to accept the cheapest care as the most effective? Payers are now insurance companies but increasingly the payer will be the government. That means that government will have a direct interest in seeking out the most inexpensive treatment.

On the one hand medical treatments are in serious need of cost control. On the other hand centralized command and control systems have a dismal record of controlling costs. What they are good at is creating shortages. More local control and more doctor patient control allowing the market to function will be more likely to control costs.

What will this mean in terms of research and future innovations in medicine? Will a politicized system kill the profit motive and stymie innovation?

And finally, so what? As the AP article says, “What will Americans do with the answers?” Knowing the best procedures will not mean people will want them. Knowledge does not translate to action. If it did then no one would smoke, we’d all be at our ideal weight and everyone would floss.

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