Rating Medical Treatments

A few weeks ago, we discussed President Barack Obama’s plan to create a $634 billion fund for expanding access to health care. That post also covered the president’s proposals for competitive bidding among private Medicare insurance providers and a possible overhaul of how doctors are paid through regular Medicare.


Taking steps to expand health insurance coverage is generally popular with the public, but another element of the Obama administration’s health-care reform aspirations may not receive widespread support. In the economic stimulus package signed by the president in February, $1 billion was dedicated to studying the comparative effectiveness of medical treatments for common diseases and conditions. This information could then be used to regulate which treatments insurance covers and which it does not. Supporters of such regulations argue that our health-care system is overrun with unnecessary tests and unproven procedures that benefit doctors and health providers financially, but that drive up the cost of care for everyone. Skeptics worry that government intervention might limit the ability of doctors to act in their patients’ best interest and could stifle medical innovation.

A recent poll conducted by National Public Radio, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health seems to confirm that there are more skeptics than supporters in the general public. Forty-two percent of respondents with an opinion on the topic said they would trust a government health agency “a great deal” or “a fair amount” to determine what treatments deserve health insurance coverage; the remainder said they would trust an agency “just a little” or “not at all.” However, support for a panel of outside scientific experts — rather than a government agency — making such decisions was much greater.

What do you think of a panel of experts deciding which treatments deserve insurance coverage? What else, if anything, should the government do to control the rising cost of health care? And how does your personal experience with diabetes — or any other medical condition — shape your views? Leave a comment below!

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  • catn9tails

    How about putting the coltrols on the drug companies? My mom needed heart meds the cost? $150 A PILL!!!!!!!!!
    I have DDD and used codein w/aspirins the cost was $25 a month guess what the drug companies did they removed it stopped making it. now to buy the same mg, and dose with out the aspirin its $129 a month. guess who developed that trans fat that leads to heart deseases? the drug compaines developed it. The drug compinies are also trying to cut out alt means of treatments, i was plagued with mirgrains for years and on high price meds. an alt md suggested to take 500 mg os magneasem that was 3 years ago and have not had a headache since, but no gov person will even suggest to control the drug companies cause the drug companies “donate” pay a lot to each officals election

  • Eddy mae Murphy

    I do not want to be told how I will recieve any medical care or meications I take.
    Thank you for letting me voice my opinion.

  • djohnson

    People without health insurance should be taxed higher to cover the cost of government insurane.

  • deafmack

    I really don’t want government deciding what medical tests, treatments, medications, procedures, etc are necessary. They could take bad medical advice and leave us worse off. What they need to do is start regulating the insurance companies so the prices will stop climbing at rates that are just plain ridiculous.

  • DLacki

    We give away hundreds of billions probably trillions of dollars in foreign aid to countries overseas. It’s about time we started taking care of our own citizens, meaning those that need help, especially with medical care and insurance. As the wealthiest country in the world, it is a damn shame that any of our own people should be turned away from medical care and good health due to a lack of insurance. I say to hell with the rest of the world, they hate us anyway! It’s time to take care of our own, and, I call on President Obama and take him to task on it!!!

  • Sam

    The government can’t run the government & they need to stay out of health care. Stop the illegal aliens from coming to the US & using emergency rooms like doctors offices. Lower the cost of medicines the big lobbiest push for & stop insurance fraud & over charging to make up for someone that has no insurance.

  • Claudia

    Hello! Why do test strips need to be in the “insurance” category? If you have diabetes, you MUST have them? Duh!!! And insulin? ANYONE who needs insulin should be able to get it, insurance or no insurance!!! In fact, anything related to diabetes should be available to all persons (Type 1 without question) needing meds and supplies, to include testing apparatus’ (meters, pumps, needles) strips, insulin, site preps, glucogon, etc. etc. — Same goes for cancer! These are CRITICAL diseases you don’t “mess” around with!

  • Harry….

    Tests such as the blood glucose test of up to twelve times a day are much more effective than oral medication for my type two diabetes.

  • Lee

    Peace of mind and healthcare. Why don’t we have it in the US? It is time for CHANGE! Supporting each other is where it is at.

  • mandy

    I think there should be more insurance coverage of preventive medicine. I recently had a bone density test and I was billed for it. My medical office said that Medicare was not covering it. They are investigating this as it has been covered before. But in the meantime I am not paying it

  • mbkenn

    I am not a fan of Oboma’s in the first place. and when he starts messing around with my medicine and test that really gets my dander up. I not only have diabetes, butI have high blood pressure, heart problems with a pace maker and I have had eight, yes, eight stints put in my body. I find it hard enough with the insurance companies not allowing a lot of procdures that we do not need the goverment butting in as well.I pray to God that they don’t actually do this.

  • Fungrandma

    As a person with diabetes, I feel very fortunate to have good medical coverage. If I had to pay the full cost of all my medications and supplies that are connected to this disease, I would probably cut the number of glucose tests I take a day (4-6) and the amount of insulin I take. I would also quit taking the statin and ACE inhibitor that I take just because I have diabetes. My health may or may not deteriorate as a result. I know people who do not take their meds, or cut them in half, to save money. It isn’t a good idea, but what can they do?

    Every person with diabetes is different and requires different treatment. How can even a panel of experts decide what should be covered and what shouldn’t?

  • Martha

    It is highly unlikely that I would ever trust a government agency to decide what medical care or tests should be covered by insurance; I would more likely trust an outside panel of experts. All medical supplies to treat diabetes should be considered essential to life and all should be covered by insurance. To control rising health care costs, I agree that our own citizens’ healthcare should come first over any other concerns for health care aid to others. Government waste is rampant in other areas; healthcare is not waste.

    I have been a type 1 diabetic since early childhood to a senior citizen now. My healthcare experience has been excellent due to good insurance coverage and preventive healthcare. Since many have not experienced such stability in insurance coverage, I feel that healthcare should be a right of our citizenry first. I do not support universal healthcare; Medicaid should be available to those who do not have private insurance coverage.

  • American living with Nationalized Health Care

    Where I live, there is national heath care and let me just say, you get what you pay for. I hope Obama takes this process slowly and starts with prescriptions, not dictating what doctors should do.

    anything related to diabetes should be available to all persons (Type 1 without question)

    I just wonder when this attitude towards and discrimination of Type 2 diabetics is going to stop. This website is diabetesselfmanagement.com, not type1diabetesmanagement.com. I wonder what makes diabetes related things more important to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics.

  • Are you kidding?

    In fact, anything related to diabetes should be available to all persons (Type 1 without question)

    I sure hope that the government doesn’t decide using criteria from above. Otherwise us type 2’s are fried. Nice attitude.

  • attentive

    I am amazed at the lack of understanding, propaganda about who controls one’s choice notwithstanding. In terms of costs, consider that it is the insurance racket that makes the money.
    In the case of medicare the insurance company is paid by both the government and the insured.
    While the insurance companies negotiate with the federal government over fees and costs of prescription drugs. They then mark up, or add in their profit margins, and past these costs on to the insurer. I protection of this racket, someone got a law passed that forbids the government from negotiating with hospitals and drug companies–for the general public I might add. I make the addition because as a U.S. Army retiree, I get my prescriptions filled at a rate of $3.00 formulary, and $9.00 nonformulary. This is because the government has directly negotiated these terms with the pharmaceutical racketeers.
    In other words, Consider what being insured might look like if the government eliminated the insurance bureaucracy and dealt directly with the hospitals and drug racketeers.
    Additionally, I a a Type II case and I test four tmes daily. For those of you who test once a day or twice a week, you might want to increase your testing; you will get a better picture in terms of controlling the problem.

  • Gail

    This whole discussion would not need to take place if government was OUT of health care all together.

    Let us insure our health care the way we insure our automobiles. We, as individuals, shop for the type of insurance we want and can afford. We are responsible for ourselves. If government wants to have a policy for welfare people or elderly, they can run their own (as they do now) or they can shop around themselves and buy from an insurance company that they like. Government should just buy policies for the medically needy and not have to run the system. They also can shop around. Leave doctors alone! Doctors can deal with insurance companies any way they like. We can deal with the insurance company we think serves us best. Competition works, not government monopoly.

    Of course we need health care, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to pay for it. We need food, but that isn’t given away free. We need transportation, but no one buys us a car. This isn’t a communist country. Anyway, how well did that work in the USSR and Eastern European countries?

  • lp

    My Doctors went to medical school for many years to treat me. I don’t believe the people whom the government says can do this better (_-cheaper) has that information, if so they would be doctors.

  • Char

    I am afraid of what the government will put in place. My doctor says, the doctors can’t work more hours than they work now, because there will be a lot more people seeing the doctor, so it will be hard to get an appointment. I heard a lady who used to live in Canada say that people sometimes wait 17 months to see a primary doctor.
    This is not good.

  • rickeypol

    The problem is the cost of health care, not the insurance companies. Insurance companies are simply the administrators. Insurance companies do not dictate that an MIR costs $2,500. Why can’t it cost $250. Something needs to be done to control the cost established for medical care.

  • drjudy

    The government needs to stick to issues of government , not the running of individual’s lives. In order to meet the needs of everyone , government will overpower us. We have experts in medicine in addition to other fields, such as education,etc. Stay out and let people, especilly doctors, do their work for individuals.

  • lin

    Medicare only covers 3 complete lab tests for my type 2 diabetes and the costs rise over $100 a year. If I need a test “in between”, I don’t have it because I can’t afford it. The costs of the drugs is criminally high. I would like to see an independent panel of physicians, definitely not government control. I used to work for the government and I think that their efficiency ranks at about 30%, with no common sense applied.

  • QR Bell


  • bb

    Doctors should be free to try new methods of treatment for any medical problem. True everyone needs health care however the government should stay out of it. Insurance companies charge entirely too much and sometimes cover very little. The costs for some tests and treatments are totally unreasonable. And hospital costs are also too high. If the government begins to regulate health care it will be worse and people will die waiting for a doctors appointment. Sometimes you have to wait a few weeks now and if it is a serious problem even a few weeks can make a difference. If you have to wait months that will be really bad and could be too late for some people.

  • earthgoddess

    I am in agreement with many comments mentioned here. My opinion also is that government should not be in the medical profession. I personally do not want the government or any “agency” dictating what tests I cam have or not have. I feel blessed that we have insurance that pays for my Type 2 diabetes because we too, would not be able to pay the high cost of strips & supplies if we didn’t have insurance. I strongly think that insurance companies should not have complete control of drug costs. Each year the cost of drugs and medical treatment go up and I wonder if it will ever top out Drug manufacturers write off all the cost of research for the development of new drugs and do not pay any taxes on it. So why do they have to use the excuse that they have to recover the cost of the drug development by charging such ridiculous prices.

  • Brenda D

    The govt has not even been able to manage the US Postal system. If stamps go up 93% every few years, think what your insurance premiums will do. The current drug program is expensive & has a huge out-of-pocket thrown in after just because…! Also, check how many Canadians come into the US for medical purposes because their socialized medicine does not work. Talk to some ex-Brits also who have had to suffer their govt controlled medical system. And to even suggest that a panel of experts be set up to determine what practices should be approved is tantamount to giving no coverage at all. Panels remove the familiarity of the doctor-patient relationship. My doctor has kept me on the straight pathway to controlling my diabetes, but he allows me to use the county nurse for my AIC & cholesterol tests at a cost of $25, whereas the clinic charges over $90 for the lab costs. How will a panel save me costs here? One way the govt could solve the high medical costs is to enforce the frivolous law-suits laws. Another avenue is to enforce the illegal alien laws, lowering the drain on our medical institutions by people who are usually uninsured. But asking the govt to enforce any laws that make sense is ludricous.