Friday, December 21, 2007

OHIP should bill patients

I disagree with the Toronto Sun editor's comment to Roy Cumming’s Feb.24, 2006 letter ("Bills cut down on fraud") in the Toronto Sun, that the expense of government billing patients for health care received would be money better spent on actual medical care.

But, keeping track of costs and billings is a critical and fundamental organizational necessity – it is an absolutely inherent cost of carrying on business, not some convenient afterthought. Any accountable organization (obviously which can't include government) must be able to assess if and where it is hemorrhaging.

Even David Peterson’s Liberals, with their powerful 1980’s computers(!), were apparently able to track those “greedy doctors” who were supposedly “extra-billing”. (Ask Liberal MPP Jim Bradley about that someday, when you are also asking him for his decades-old 'proof" of global-warming, and 'peak oil'...!)

If we as consumers don’t know our health care bills, are we supposed to assume that Health Minister George Smitherman does? Are we supposed to just trust that the Liberals aren’t doing some “extra-billing” of their own? Why shouldn't we know what the services cost, and be also be able to compare them to other hospitals, or other jurisdictions? Wouldn't sending patients the actual bill to confirm their treatment costs help cut down on fraud? Is that efficiency alone not worth the effort?

Smitherman himself said we in Ontario don't even really have a health system, and that he's unsure of where the money's being spent.... unreal!! Add to that the billions washing into the Liberal's coffers from their new health tax, and you've got an accounting, and accountability nightmare.

The billing process should not be portrayed and dismissed as an expendable, useless endeavor. In private business, that's the way to keep track of your expenses, and to present bills to get paid; to earn your living. But big single-payer government-monopoly-run-health-care has a disconnect to this idea: their paycheques are issued despite how they performed.

There's no relation between their expenses and their income (as in budgets and donations), it all gets thrown into the wash. There's no incentive to operate more efficiently, or to proactively anticipate and accommodate changing market, or technology trends. This lackadaisical, cavalier approach to finance does not breed accountability, or systemic efficiency - or sustainability. The budgets allocated for health care rise, but the (unexplained) waiting lists and shortages and inefficiencies remain. Tracking billing tells a great story regarding an organization's utilization of its resources.

Perhaps that's something that the supporters of the medicare status-quo don't really want to know, anyway.

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