Given Matthew’s quite visceral response to some complaints that broad-based, government-encouraged (mandated, I suspect), electronic medical records I am interested in both his and THCB readers’ thoughts on the Bangor Daily News editorial staff’s approach to health care reform.
They suggest that transparency is the key – "lawmakers should require health providers and insurance companies to report all of their costs to the public."
Note the very significant difference here between disclosure of prices and the newspaper’s use of the term costs.
Few have issue that, to the degree possible, it ought to be reasonable that one knows the cost of something prior to purchasing it.
But the newspaper goes much, much further – they want complete disclosure of all of the costs that go into running the business – whether it be a doctor’s office, a hospital, an insurance company, a chiropractor, acupuncturist, physical therapist, and on and on.
What are the components of that price? Doctors’ salaries, medicines and space in the operating room are obvious components. But what about the salary for the hospital CEO, the cost of landscaping hospital grounds and the salary of the health care lobbyists, how much did that add to the bill?
Clarifying this: the state should have complete, unfettered access to all private records of everyone involved in health care delivery.
Really: read the actual language of Arizona Minority Leader Phil Lopes (not a back bencher by any means) "Health Security Act" in section 36-3126(D):
THE COMMISSION, THROUGH ITS STAFF OR BY CONTRACT, SHALL PERFORM ANNOUNCED AND UNANNOUNCED AUDITS, INCLUDING FINANCIAL, OPERATIONAL, MANAGEMENT AND ELECTRONIC DATA PROCESSING AUDITS OF HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONERS AND HEALTH FACILITIES. AUDIT FINDINGS SHALL BE REPORTED DIRECTLY TO THE COMMISSION.
Why does this matter?
Because, if one presumes that individual behavior adversely contributes to the cost of healthcare-for-all, is it an unreasonable stretch to presume that the wise, knowledgeable appointees who will oversee these health plans will someday – soon – require that we are able to provide similar disclosures about how we spend all of our money.
Scrutiny could then be placed upon the personal habits of all of us – with the eventual result that Mrs. Jones will not be allowed to buy ice cream, while Mr. Smith will be threatened with fines for the excessive use of pasta…
So, if privacy is important—defined as the ability to determine who has access to our most personal information… is the pontificating of the BDN editorial board something any of us should support?