Pilot Project Aims to Reduce Medicare Losses
The world famous Mayo Clinic, a non-profit organization that owns medical facilities in Minnesota, Arizona and Florida, received much attention during the 2009 health care reform debates in the United States. President Obama praised them for delivering high quality, efficient health care and hailed them as a model to be duplicated across the nation.
This shining example is not without a dim spot. In 2008, the Mayo Clinic experienced a loss of $840 million on Medicare. Financial losses seem to be inherent in publicly funded health care systems where payments never cover the actual cost of health care services. A pattern of billion dollar deficits is visible in this type of system in countries across the globe including the United Kingdom, Australia, France and Germany.
When it became apparent that Obama’s health care reform would expand an unsustainable Medicare system, the Mayo Clinic started its own type of reform. In January 2010, it began a two-year pilot project at its family medical clinic located in Glendale near Phoenix, Arizona. The clinic has stopped accepting medicare payment for primary care office visits thereby requiring patients to pay cash to see their doctors.
Here in Canada, patients are prohibited from directly paying their doctors for services covered under our Medicare system. Canadian Medicare now consumes close to half of our provincial and territorial budgets. Government efforts to control both costs and public expectations have led them to alternate between funding and service cuts and temporary injections of money. Throwing more money into a broken system is wasteful. It’s time for our politicians to be truthful and admit that government cannot provide for all of the health care needs of all of the people all of the time. It’s also time for Canadian patients and their doctors to embrace this truth and start conducting their own pilot project.