The Journal speculated that these future savings would come in various ways: reducing incentives to stop providers from performing unnecessary medical procedures; addressing regional cost differences; letting providers know about effective treatments; and promoting prevention. Will all this really yield the trillion or so dollars needed to subsidize health insurance?
Then I thought of a New York Times story from last week, which offered an ominous take on one way the future savings would be generated—using information technology to cut costs and improve quality and efficiency. The Times reported on two articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine that, according to the Times, “point to formidable obstacles to achieving the policy goal of not only installing electronic health records, but also using them to improve care and curb costs.”
Now I ask you, dear reader, what does this add up to? A president backtracking on a campaign promise? Taxing workers instead of wealthier people? Causing more people to be underinsured? Letting insurers off the hook? Budget games? Banking on future savings that may not materialize? What a good story this will be when the dots are connected!