Docs Fix Their Bottom Lines


A new study finds the semi-obvious: When doctors get paid less to treat cancer patients with chemotherapy, they will treat more patients with chemotherapy and use more expensive drugs.

The study looks at the results from 2005 cuts in chemo reimbursement rates by Medicare. Interestingly, the researchers, Mireille Jacobson, Craig C. Earle, Mary Price, and Joseph P. Newhouse, don't try to gauge whether the changes resulted in better or worse health outcomes. Instead, they simply note that doctors seem to compensate for lower Medicare payment per patient by treating more patients, and "that payment reforms have real consequences and should be undertaken with caution."

More on the budgetary and medical perils of the Medicare reimbursement "doc fix" from honeymooner Peter Suderman here, here, and here. Or enjoy a video version of health care budget trickery:

Via Jerry Brito.