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Surgeries and Follow up at a Flat Rate

So maybe it’s not so strange to think of a patient as a washing machine. That is, it’s not a bad idea to give a patient the same kind of warranty that a washing machine or a television would have. That is what the Geisinger Health System group in Wilkes-Barre, PA is doing. A New York Times article talks about how the healthcare group has overhauled its system so that patients undergoing surgery do not pay additional fees for any related procedures done within 90 days.

If a complication arises, the group will not bill the insurer. According to the group, the process encourages hospitals and doctors to provide high-quality care that can prevent costly mistakes. The article gives the example that nearly half of American patients never get the most basic recommended treatments-such as an aspirin after a heart attack or antibiotics before hip surgery. One of the reasons cited for this lack of basic care is that hospitals and doctors do not have an incentive to prevent such occurrences. So far, the only insurer that Geisinger has contracted with under the new arrangement is its own insurance unit. Eventually, though, the group hopes to attract other insurers and employers that provide health benefits by expanding the approach into other lines of care. It could lead to better standardization of healthcare. Patients get peace of mind that even if something goes wrong, they are taken care of. Plus, insurers may be more likely to approve surgeries if they wonâEUR(TM)t have to pay extra. ItâEUR(TM)s ironic to think that treating a patient like a machine could actually go a long way toward increasing humane practices in hospitals. Now whereâEUR(TM)s my warranty?

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