Another 'model' to eyeball

John Taylor: September 11, 20070 Comments

"Modeling" sounds sexy in many contexts, but health care isn't one of them. Still, as other states watch to see how California do-gooders and special interests duke it out on health care reform, the media can poke around for models of where things are done different/better.

Now it's the Netherlands, where the Wall Street Journal reported that waiting lines are shrinking, insurers are innovating, costs are stabilizing -- and every adult is compelled to buy insurance while all insurers must take whoever applies, regardless of their ailments.

Insurers may have been squeezed the most in the Holland model, the story suggests, but now hospitals are the target. Can insurers force them to lower costs, measurably improve quality and be appropriately incentivized? The Dutch overhaul began in January of 2006, so the whirling dervish of details has yet to fully play out.

Speaking of details, here are a few more:

  • As Detroit auto makers try to nudge out younger workers with $100k buyouts, where do you think these newly unemployed folks are going? Health care, says the WS Journal. Ford says 40% of its former workers are studying health care, with the biggest focuses on nursing, radiology, dental hygiene and pharmacology. Yeah, Michigan's facing a nursing shortage, but it would be swell to advertise having Yosemite in our backyard to lure a few Snowbirds.

  • Don't lie about where you live or how much you earn if you look for charity care at Dallas'  Parkland Memorial Hospital. The Dallas Morning News reports that more than 200 patients are being investigated for allegedly defrauding the county hospital by lying about residences/bank accounts. Felony and misdemeanor charges are flying. Indigent and uninsured residents of North Texas are saying they have no place else to go, the paper reports, because Dallas and Tarrant counties are the only counties in the region with tax-supported hospitals. Of Parkland's actions,  one police lieutenant said: It's not a bottomless pit of resources.

  • The unraveling of Martin Luther King Jr-Harbor Hospital in Los Angeles is a chronicle of tragedy, with no shortage of odd misdeeds. Modern Healthcare reported one of them recently. An adult diaper that had been used in a routine test tripped a radiation-detection alarm at a local waste facility. And whoever threw it away, also included personal patient information in the same sack.