In a stunning admission, the CEO of the Mayo Clinic admits they prioritize more profitable patients with commercial insurance over less-profitable patients with Medicare or Medicaid. This according to articles in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and HealthCare Renewal Blog. From the article:
Putting Commercially Insured Patients First
On March 15, 2017, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune first reported that the CEO of the august Mayo Clinic had stated in a late 2016 speech to Clinic personnel that henceforth the institution would preferentially accept patients with private insurance over those with public (Medicaid or Medicare) insurance under certain circumstances.
“when two patients are referred with equivalent conditions”, he said, “the health system should ‘prioritize’ those with private insurance.”
‘We’re asking ... if the patient has commercial insurance, or they’re Medicaid or Medicare patients and they’re equal, that we prioritize the commercial insured patients enough so ... we can be financially strong at the end of the year to continue to advance, advance our mission,’
[CEO Dr John] Noseworthy said in a videotaped speech to staff late last year. The Star Tribune obtained a transcript of the speech, and Mayo has confirmed its authenticity.
This is the logic of a for-profit business - of course you focus on most profitable lines and relegate less-profitable customers to secondary status or even drop them. However, applying this logic in the form of a for-profit medical system - profits are the first objective, responsibility to patients secondary - seems to me to be incompatible with a medical doctor’s sworn Hippocratic Oath to “first do no harm”.
And it is at the heart of the political problem in America - mired as it is in ideological manicheanism: “Capitalism Good! Socialism Bad!” It’s simple-minded and wrong and creates massive inequality and misery - all unnecessary in the richest country in the world. And it flies in the face of the examples of every other G20 country - which have MIXED ECONOMIES in which capitalists do what they do best - run businesses efficiently - and socialists do what they do best - education and healthcare. Just consider basic measures of public health - life expectancy, for example, where the USA is number 31 (!) after Cyprus and Slovenia and most other G20 nations - and infant mortality - where the USA is 29th worst among the 34 OECD nations and behind Cuba, for pity’s sake! (Cuba 4.63; USA 6.5 infant deaths per thousand in 2015).
Isn’t it long past time for Medicare for All? Or should we just continue “prioritising” poor people to an early grave so that CEO John Noseworthy can make $3.8 million per year?