I read with interest Bernadine Healy's comments on medical transparency to help patients make better economic choices ["Harry and Louise Strike Again," May 12].
How about us doctors? Every week we spend thousands of dollars ordering lab tests, imaging studies and procedures, and we too are in Macy's with blindfolds. Most of us have no idea what individual tests cost. This could be easily rectified by requiring places like Quest and Lab Corps to print the price of lab tests on their coding books which we use to order tests. Also medical insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid should be sending us regular print outs showing what competing radiology providers, labs and doctors are charging for tests. This would probably greatly cut down on how many tests we order, and we could discuss the value of tests more intelligently with our patients and help them make better choices for our money.
Kenneth B. Kochmann, M.D.
Bernadine Healy makes a convincing argument that our healthcare costs have become exorbitant and are in need of reform by active consumer participation. I agree a more informed public would go a long way toward lowering costs. However, I cannot see how establishing government as chief regulator is going to improve the situation. Considering the complex business of research, development, testing, manufacturing and distribution of medical products and services, how can government determine true costs; or assure the best quality of performance. In fact the more we regulate the more we may have to ration our healthcare system. This is an undesirable consequence for which the Canadian and European systems provide good examples.
Andrew F. McLaughlin
Bernadine Healy has written an excellent and timely article on the issue of national health insurance. While correctly identifying the Harry and Louise ads as the most blatant opponents and sinkers of Hillary Clinton 's 1993 attempt to solve the problem, Healy neglects to mention that doctors were even more vehement then were the insurance companies in that anti-universal health care controversy. Clinton also seems to have realized that compromises and adjustments and shared responsibility will further her original plan.
Mary Clare Dinno
Los Gatos, Calif.