by Gene Barrett – The New Year brings with it a new charge to your health insurance plan. The fee, imposed by a little-known provision of President Barack Obama’s health care law, is being implemented to find out which drugs, medical procedures, tests and treatments work best.
Not only will the cost to insurance companies be passed down to us but a new government bureaucracy, The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, was created to carry out the research, and that cost will be passed down to the overburdened American taxpayer as well.
The government is already providing the institute with some funding: The $1-per-person insurance fee goes into effect in 2012. But the Treasury Department says it’s not likely to be collected for another year, though insurers would still owe the money. The fee doubles to $2 per covered person in its second year and thereafter rises with inflation. Obama’s promise that his health care plan would save insured American’s $2500.00 a year seems questionable at best.
In addition to concerns about cost, political analysts are questioning if the research findings will be used in other areas. They ask if the data collected will be used to make coverage determinations and does this put us a step closer to rationed care.
The institute’s director, Dr. Joe Selby, said patients and doctors will make the decisions, not his organization. “We are not a policy-making body; our role is to make the evidence available,” said Selby, a primary care physician and medical researcher.
But insurance industry representatives say they expect to use the research and work with employers to fine-tune workplace health plans. Employees and family members could be steered to hospitals and doctors who follow the most effective treatment methods. Patients going elsewhere could face higher copayments, similar to added charges they now pay for “non-preferred” drugs on their insurance plans.