Loading...
BYH to the one who thinks that we are energy independent because of this president. The initiatives you speak of began...

Peel the health care onion to begin cutting costs

Tom Campbell.jpg

Tom Campbell

Loading…

Saturday, September 8, 2018

State Treasurer Dale Folwell administers the State Health Plan, the largest in our state. Folwell believes his office should know what various procedures cost his 700,000 present and retired state employees, so he sent a request to UNC Health Care, the largest health care provider to the plan, asking them to outline their charges in their 13 hospitals, various clinics and medical practices. He told us the state plan spends almost $270 million each year with UNC and his intent was to make sure participants were paying what they were supposed to be charged.

Folwell got back about 100 pages outlining the contract UNC has with Blue Cross, the third-party payer the state plan employs. The document was so heavily redacted as to be completely unusable in ascertaining healthcare costs. UNC explained this is proprietary information between insurance companies and care providers and is confidential. Folwell’s press office immediately responded by composing a fake news release to UNC that itself was so heavily redacted as to be virtually unintelligible. Who says accountants have no sense of humor?

But Treasurer Folwell is correct both in requesting and expecting to know what UNC and all other providers charge the State Health Plan. Transparency in pricing is important in making informed choices. But as anyone who has ever studied our complicated public-private health care system has learned, finding health care solutions is like peeling an onion. One layer reveals another that needs unwrapping.

In 2014, the latest year for which we found figures, North Carolina spent $72 billion or 15 percent of our state’s GDP on health care. The $7,300 per person is a lot, but the really bad news is that the personal finance website, WalletHub, ranks North Carolina the fifth worst state in the nation for health care.

We certainly don’t want to start price wars that might result in shortcuts to quality care, but there are some steps we can take to improve our health and reduce health care costs. North Carolina should significantly reduce or eliminate our certificate of need (CON) laws that restrict competition.

As we said, each peeling can reveal another layer. Higher cost providers are generally hospitals, required by law to treat anyone who comes to their door regardless of whether they can afford treatment. While reforming CON we need to take care to prevent hospitals, especially in smaller communities, from going broke.

We can make health insurance premiums more competitive by removing barriers to out of state competition, reducing mandates to insurers and introducing reasonable tort reforms that could reduce unnecessary testing and lower malpractice insurance rates. We could also insist on generic prescription drugs and shop for lowest prices.

But the biggest step is for each of us to consciously work on getting healthier. Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes rates are extraordinarily high in our state and one in five still smoke. Better eating choices and more exercise not only save money but also results in healthier, happier and longer lives.

Back to Treasurer Folwell, he makes a valid point. Each of us should become more proactive by always asking the costs of procedures and tests, additionally inquiring as to whether each test is necessary. Health care is the one sector of our lives where we never know what something costs until we get the bill.

We’ve got to be willing to peel a few onions.

Tom Campbell is former assistant state treasurer and creator and host of NC SPIN, a statewide panel discussion that airs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday on UNC-TV and 10 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday on the North Carolina Channel.Contact him at www.ncspin.com.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Op Ed

December 16, 2018

Republicans are beginning to jump the not-so-good-ship Trump, but in a most unusual and indirect manner. Instead of joining the cacophony chorus of critics emanating from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations, increasing numbers of Senate Republicans are discovering alternate ways…

douglascohn.jpg

December 16, 2018

The Washington Post

A federal judge sentenced Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, to three years in prison on Wednesday. His misdeeds include criminal violations of campaign finance law, to which Cohen connected the president. Specifically, Cohen, in league with the National…

December 16, 2018

Last month's elections are not quite over.

In two states that chose Democratic governors, Michigan and Wisconsin, Republican-controlled legislatures are trying to nullify the results by passing bills in lame-duck sessions that handcuff the incoming chief executives.

In North Carolina, there's…

Steve and Cokie Roberts

December 16, 2018

Good news for the incoming House Democratic majority! They have something President Trump really, really wants: money to build a border wall. Trump is desperate for this money. Mexico won't give it to him. Only congressional Democrats can. Without their consent, he can't deliver on one of the key…

MarcThiessen

December 15, 2018

Throughout Donald Trump's campaign for the presidency, he repeatedly promised to build a high, impenetrable, concrete wall along America's nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

And he further promised that it wouldn't cost American taxpayers one red cent, saying he would make Mexico pay for it.…

lambro2

December 15, 2018

The Los Angeles Times

President Trump’s announcement that he will nominate William Barr to serve as U.S. attorney general — a position Barr also held under President George H.W. Bush — eases concerns that he would seek to replace ousted Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions with a loyalist…

December 15, 2018

While many are fretting over the just-right Christmas present, tackling last-minute holiday details or preparing for years-end, many of North Carolina’s high school seniors have the added stress of preparing applications for college.

Unless you parent a high school student it is hard to…

Tom Campbell.jpg

December 14, 2018

Every time conventional Beltway wisdom congeals as quickly as it did on Tuesday — this time around, the certainty that President Donald Trump had blundered terribly in saying he would in effect "own" any government shutdown over border security funding — analysts ought to think back to…

HughHewitt

December 14, 2018

This just in: Black men are still being killed by police officers for no good reason.

But you knew that. Anyone who has remotely been paying attention should be aware that unjustified police killings of African-American men continue unabated. In far too many police departments, the unwritten rule…

Eugene Robinson

December 13, 2018

In the January 1953 edition of the magazine If: Worlds of Science Fiction, a fan of the genre from Texas, Marilyn Venable, made her debut as an author. “Time Enough at Last,” Venable’s story of a bookish man who survives a nuclear holocaust, made such an impression that Twilight…

john hood.jpg
325 stories in Op Ed. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 33
        Next Page»   Last Page»