Wall Street Journal Examines Increased Number of U.S. Providers That Ration Health Care
The Wall Street Journal today examines the increased number of U.S. providers that ration health care "out of sight of patients" in daily decisions made about which treatments they receive. The U.S. health care system -- which includes a combination of patients enrolled in private health plans and public health insurance programs, as well as those who lack health coverage -- has no formal system to ration care, but "health care rationing occurs every day" in the United States based on rules that "aren't consistently applied," the Journal reports. The "gatekeepers" of health care, such as physicians, nurses, hospital administrators, insurance workers and Medicaid functionaries, are "forced to say 'no' to certain demands for treatment" and must "weigh patient needs against what insurers will cover" when they make treatment decisions, the Journal reports. Robert Perry, CEO of Northeastern Hospital in Philadelphia, called the decisions a "damn-near impossible task" for providers, adding, "All you should be asking them to do is take care of sick people as quickly as possible" (Anand, Wall Street Journal, 9/12).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.