MANAGED CARE: From The Editorial Pages
The Washington Post and USA Today present point-counterpoint analyses of issues front and center in the public debate over managed care.
- Privacy: As part of its "Managed Care Checkup" series, USA Today notes in a staff editorial that "HMOs routinely collect and give outsiders access to highly personal medical records without asking a patient's permission. At many health plans, patient confidentiality is long-gone as a matter of practice." Further, the piece notes, managed care plans are lobbying for federal legislation that would allow them to continue doling out patient information (7/13).
- In an "Opposing View" column, American Association of Health Plan President Karen Ignagni says limiting data-sharing could jeopardize patient care. "It comes down to this: The best kind of patient protection occurs when patients feel securely protected against avoidable health problems and inadequate health care. For health plans to deliver this kind of protection, they must have appropriate access to information," she writes (7/13).
- Doctor v. Patient: Sunday's Washington Post "Outlook" section examines problems that arise when doctors' decisions conflict with what health insurers or patients think is right. Boston pediatrician Dr. Perri Klass writes of difficulties in diagnosing and prescribing medicine to patients who think they know the best treatment. "It isn't easy, finding the balance between necessary authority and reasonable openmindedness," she writes. "You can't devote yourself to guarding the pharmacy door, but neither can you allow a patient's requests to determine your professional judgment" (7/12).
- Rationing: In a separate "Outlook" piece, Roanoke, VA, infertility specialist Dr. James Holman details the difficulties doctors face when they come up against health insurers' "rationing" of treatment and medications. "Because health insurance is, in effect, a common pool of money intended to meet the health needs of those who contribute to it, we will forever have to set priorities for competing claims," Holman writes. "[C]hoices should reflect the preferences of those who are putting their dollars into the insurance pool" (7/12).