Here is something disturbing I did not know:

UnitedHealth tests ending fee-for-service charges
October 20, 2010
By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK (Reuters) – UnitedHealth Group Inc is trying to change how it reimburses oncologists using a method the insurer says could improve treatment practices.

The U.S. health insurer has started a pilot program involving five physician practices across the country, focusing on breast, colon and lung cancers, the company announced on Wednesday.

Oncologists currently buy chemotherapies and other drugs directly at wholesale prices, and then are reimbursed at higher retail rates, UnitedHealth said.

I understand profits and free enterprise drive our health care system.  I just never thought oncologists were being compensated for prescribing and dispensing chemotherapy.

Mr. Krauskopf goes on to report:

Oncologists make about 60 percent of their income from selling drugs in this way, according to UnitedHealth, the largest health insurer by market value. They may make greater profit margins from higher-priced medicines, and therefore can be incentivized to prescribe newer drugs regardless if they have been proven more effective.

I trust my oncologist’s judgment and ethics.  But there is a problem with any system which tempts docs to over prescribe for profit!  I wonder how widespread this system is.  I would be surprised if UAMS or Mayo Clinic operated this way, for example.  But maybe they do?

I hope this UnitedHealth move to end this obvious conflict of interest works.  This is an excellent article.  Read the rest by clicking here.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

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