Pay doctors for health, not procedures

Right now, our health insurance system is set up so that doctors are paid for each procedure they do. If they do more procedures on a patient, they get paid more. So the sicker a patient is, the more the doctors get paid. This is not a good incentive for doctors to try to keep patients well.

If we really want to control health care costs, the way to do that is to keep patients healthier so they don't need as much treatment. This would mean things like preventative care, education of patients and lifestyle changes.

Even if doctors want to do more of this, they can't afford to because they don't get paid for it. So we have to find a new way to pay doctors. Find a way to reward doctors for keeping patients healthy.

For example, if one doctor's patients, as a group, lose weight, or need fewer of certain procedures, then he gets a bonus. This will require bold thinking because this is totally different from the way the insurance industry is set up now.

President Barack Obama says that he is serious about health care reform. The federal government controls Medicare, so if he really is serious this would be a good place to start. Find a way to restructure Medicare to pay doctors for keeping patients healthy. And if this does reduce costs, the private insurers would follow suite in order to reduce their costs.