Equivalent to Finding Loose Change in Your Couch
There was an interesting (and unusually bipartisan) op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal the other day, touting an extremely simple health care reform designed to curb Medicare costs.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House and founder of the Center for Health Transformation, propose legislation to allow pharmacists to accept electronic prescriptions rather than traditional hand-written notes. Furthermore, they would mandate that all doctors who accept Medicare patients must convert to e-prescriptions.
The article notes that nearly one-third of the more than three billion Medicare prescriptions written each year require a follow-up doctor visit for clarification, resulting in billions of dollars in additional health care costs. They also argue that e-prescriptions would minimize prescription errors caused by pharmacists who are unable to read the doctor’s handwriting.
Reforms like these always amaze me because they’re just so simple. Not that this is going to keep Medicare solvent, by any means, but it’s the kind of thinking that does help to cut costs. A similar example would be the fact that more than 80 percent of Social Security checks are now distributed through direct deposit.
Of course, I’m woefully ignorant of the technological infrastructure that this legislation would require, so maybe I’m naive. And, apparently, Medicare wants to push this cost onto the doctors which has doctors up in arms.
But the general idea of implementing simple cost-cutting measures such as this is something we should always be looking into.