Saturday, January 27, 2007

San Francisco HMO Warns Nurse Of Termination For Iraq Medical Duty

At one time some thought that HMOs would be a solution to lowering health care costs, instead medical costs just seem to escalate upwards. Nearly as bad are the labor practices of some HMOs. A large San Franciso based HMO is now the center of conflict where a nurse in the U.S. Army Reserves is being threatened with termination due to medical duty in Iraq. Under federal law, such termination is supposed to be illegal. The same HMO has also logged in 8,000 labor complaints in 2006, a sharp 50% increaes from the previous year.

It seems that HMOs are not only bad for the persons enrolled in the system, but the workforce suffers as well. In Portland, Oregon a large HMO with medical offices lost many of their finest doctors when the doctor's pay was cut and the patient workload was increased. Many quality younger doctors first became members of this HMO when it paid their very expensive malpractice insurance costs and provied them office space to work from. For many young medical doctors, still repaying college loans, this system looked like an attractive lure to work as an HMO doctor. But the system quickly soured them with the low pay and increasingly demanding workload. The problems with HMOs just seems to grow, along with doctor, patient and public dissatisfaction. Big business solutions to lower health care costs just don't seem to work. Yet it is a complex problem how to spur more medical equipment and research investments and provide quality health care to all Americans, imcluding those who are in poverty and cannot afford even basic coverage.


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