Would Budgets for Patient Care Cut Medical Bills?
(HealthDay News) — New research supports replacing the traditional way of reimbursing doctors for care -- paying for each service provided – with an alternative system that gives a set amount of money to health care organizations for patient care. The study was published in the October 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Looking at four years of data from a "global budget" program of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the researchers found signs that it boosted care and lowered costs compared to the experiences of patients in other parts of the Northeast. Health care-provider organizations received a budget to care for patients insured under the health care plan. Patient costs seem to have been lower because doctors cut down on certain tests and procedures, possibly because they're overused, according to the researchers.
In addition, the researchers found that patients in the Massachusetts program from 2009–2012 faced lower increases in medical spending than similar patients in other states. They also did better in areas like control of blood pressure and cholesterol and the percentage of diabetes patients who received eye exams or had their glucose monitored.
"These results are encouraging, because, throughout our health care system, spending is growing at an unsustainable rate and our quality of health care is not as high as it should be," study author Zirui Song, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, said in a Harvard news release.