Health Reform Must Pass the Test of Prostate Cancer

Efficacy should trump novelty in care choices
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2009 9:08 AM CDT
The broken cost system is our No. 1 health care problem.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Forget public options and universal mandates. The real litmus test for health care reform is prostate cancer testing, writes David Leonhardt of the New York Times. Treatments for the disease range in cost from a few thousand dollars to more than $100,000. "You can probably guess which treatments are becoming more popular," Leonhardt writes: "the ones that cost a lot of money."

The reason is simple: Doctors are paid based on how much treatment they provide, not how effective it is. Drug companies have no reason to do research, since doctors will recommend expensive treatments even if they’re not proven to be more effective. “The current health care system is hard-wired to be bloated and inefficient,” Leonhardt writes. To fix it, “we’ll have to start paying for quality, not volume.”