Ban physician conflicts of interest to cut costs

Is your healthcare organization trying to shrink costs without cutting services, limiting Medicare or insurance coverage, or hiking deductibles and co-pays? Then consider prohibiting physician conflicts of interest, recommend Merton and Joan Bernstein in a Huffington Post article.

Such corporate ties compromise patient care and inflate costs, adding billions of dollars a year to medical expenses, they said.

In fact, studies show that doctors with financial interests in procedures, devices, and drugs prescribe them more often than less expensive alternatives or none at all, according to the article.

Therefore, a legislative ban on the practice could help rein in the escalating costs of medical care, as well as improve the quality of care delivered.

An across-the-board ban on all "self-referrals" could eliminate the possibility of conflicts of interest from even the best-intentioned physicians, while preserving physician professional autonomy.

Such a prohibition would reduce the tendencies to exploit fee-for-service arrangements, and more importantly, strengthen patient confidence.

For more information:
- read the Huffington Post article