We need a different way to pay doctors

As physicians who have practiced medicine under the current pay system, we know only too well the temptations to order more tests, to be sure that we have tried everything. We also know that high-tech tests aren’t necessarily what the patient needs or wants, especially if the tests won’t improve health outcomes. Patients want the best course of treatment for their conditions — a course driven by their doctor’s experience and expertise, not a price list of costly tests and procedures.

The inequities in fee-for-service are so great and health care costs so high, that we cannot wait until new models of care have been adopted to improve the system. We also cannot continue to follow Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate formula. It hasn’t worked as intended for almost two decades. It should be abandoned now.

The current rate of cost growth may have slowed, but at nearly $3 trillion a year — 18 percent of gross domestic product — spending on health care is still exorbitant. Our population is aging, chronic conditions are more prevalent and the leading edge of the baby boom generation is now entering the Medicare system.

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