And Who is Exactly Surprised by This?
In a reasonable and rational health care system doctors would be salaried employees who treat and prescribe treatment based on what is best for the patient. In the
United States physicians frequently
treat and prescribe based on what
is best for the physician.
The latest study focused on a common and costly treatment for prostate cancer known as intensity-modulated radiation therapy, which directs highly concentrated beams of radiation at cancerous tumors. In many cases, it said, doctors who recommend the treatment have financial relationships with those who provide it. For example, a group of urologists may own radiation therapy equipment that is used by other doctors in the same medical group to treat patients.
What about the patients?
The investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said that Medicare beneficiaries were often unaware that their doctors stood to profit from the use of radiation therapy. Alternative treatments may be equally effective and are less expensive for Medicare and for beneficiaries, the report said.
Now to a great extent this abuse is not the fault of the doctors. They are doing what we economists say they should do, maximize their profits. The fault is with the system, and those who refuse to reform and regulate it in the name of ideology.