‘FRONTLINE’: PBS Program Looks At Managed Care
In a program entitled, "The High Price of Health," PBS' "Frontline" takes a look at the growth of managed care. "Under examination" in tonight's program, the New York Times reports, "is whether the for-profit health maintenance organizations that are spreading throughout the nation are benign." "Frontline's" findings "are not reassuring," detailing "complaints that decisions are being determined by the bottom line" (Goodman, 4/14). According to the Washington Post, the program "makes clear" that "there is hardly any accountability now for what managed care companies do" (Boodman, "Health" section, 4/14). However, the Times reports that "[j]ust as you're tempted to join in with your own complaints, ... the narrator recalls what things were like before the advent of the HMOs: 'It was an open expense account. Doctors spent and insurance companies passed on the cost to their customers. ... The result: unnecessary surgeries, too many diagnostic tests and, by the 1980s, health care costs that were spiraling out of control.'" Defending managed care in the program is Foundation Health Systems CEO Malik Hasan, who emphasizes that "the interests of shareholders and patients coincide." The Times concludes its review: "It's an instructive hour, with sharp glimpses into the changing world of American medicine and its discontents. The diagnosis is uncertain, and second opinions will surely be forthcoming" (4/14). Tonight's program will air at 9:00 p.m. ET.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.