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Tag: Debate

It’s a Trade-Off, Stupid.

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An advantage of being a foreigner, or a recent immigrant to be precise, is that it allows one to view events with a certain detachment. To analyze without the burden of love, hate or indifference for the Kennedys, the Clintons or the Bushes. To observe with both eyes open, rather than one eye looking at the events and the other looking at a utopian destination.

The most striking thing I’ve observed in the healthcare debate in the US is the absence of an honest discussion of trade-offs.

I’ve found that “trade-off” carries a sinister connotation in American healthcare parlance. Its mere utterance is a defeatist’s surrender. If optimism is the iron core of the United States, acknowledging trade-offs is her kryptonite.

I was raised in Britain. I learnt to guard optimism with pursed lips. You never knew when it would rain. I also learnt in Britain’s NHS where healthcare resources really are finite, there is a trade-off between coverage and access.

In the discussions preceding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) two disparate truths were conjoined by a single solution. The unsustainable trajectory of healthcare spending. And the large number of uninsured population. It was scarcely acknowledged that solution of these problems are inherently oppositional.

This has led to the search for utopian payment models. Fee for service incentivizes physicians towards generously reimbursable services of marginal benefits. Capitated systems dissuade physicians from taking sicker patients.

How about we pay for outcome, value and quality?  Sounds simple enough.

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