Letter to the Editor: Free Market Medical Dysfunction Underlies the Billing Problem

Staff writer Joe Lawlor beautifully portrays the pain and dysfunction of America’s healthcare system (“Hidden Claims, Denied Claims,” ​​Aug. 21, page A1). The story he tells is compelling, leaving little doubt that the system is terribly broken. But while Lawler hints at the root of the problem (e.g., cites powerful vested interests opposing reform), I think he missed an opportunity to make a more definitive diagnosis.

What sets America’s healthcare environment apart from other developed nations, aside from the sheer amount of money spent, is the powerful superiority of the corporate model and the increasingly ludicrous argument that the free market will solve things.

I was fortunate to practice medicine during a golden age of remarkable scientific and technological progress. It may have started with for-profit hospitals and insurance plans, but has moved on to dominate the non-profit world of academic medical centers and community hospitals. there are too many of us.

Care has been overheated by executives pulling in seven-figure salaries while not providing patient care. While these salaries have been rationalized as being “market-driven,” it is worth noting that they are unparalleled in the rest of the industrialized world. It collapses when considering its appropriateness in offering.

George McNeill, M.D.
steep waterfall

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