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Bill Brings Comparative Medicine To Health Insurance Plans

(Image: psyberartist under CC 3.0)

The massive health insurance reform bill creates a new agency intended to compare the effectiveness of various medical treatments. The nonprofit is called the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and will be funded through several sources: last year’s stimulus package, a newly enacted tax on health insurance companies, and Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Supporters believe that the agency will help doctors and health insurance plans save money by providing independent information about various treatments; currently, physicians receive most of their information from paid pharmaceutical sales reps, who are biased in favor of one treatment. Sometimes, another treatment (maybe a generic) may be just as effective for patients while being less expensive.

Skeptics fear that such a program will lead to rationing, a concern many have with this healthcare reform bill. While health plans aren’t required to use the information, many probably will.

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