Very soon the government will charge a new fee to the insurance companies to cover the cost for “effectiveness research“. Supposedly, comparisons will be made to find out which drugs, medical procedures, tests and treatments work best. That would be a nice thing but obviously the fee will be passed from the insurance company right to us so this is a new tax. But let’s forget that for a moment. As stated in this article, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute — a quasi-governmental agency created by Congress to carry out the research — has yet to commission a single head-to-head comparison. Well, isn’t that a nice start to building some consumer confidence. I agree that this concept would be a good way to save money. Actually doing studies between two cholesterol or BP or incontinence drugs is important and many pharmaceutical companies don’t want to pay for this so it hasn’t been done enough. As we have learned before, though, good ideas don’t always play out the way we want them to. This information could be taken and bastardized by the insurance companies themselves. Their representatives already say that:
- They expect to use the research and work with employers to fine-tune workplace health plans.
- Employees and family members could be steered to hospitals and doctors who follow the most effective treatment methods.
- Patients going elsewhere could face higher copayments, similar to added charges they now pay for “non-preferred” drugs on their insurance plans.
Doesn’t sound so good anymore, now does it?