We all know that there are plenty of conflicts of interest in the health care industry. Articles that detail the “winners and losers” in health care reform often don’t even mention patients and the American public. They look instead at industry groups – drug makers, hospitals, health insurance companies, device makers, etc. – and determine how they will fare financially under any given reform.
Hospitals are in business to make money, just like most of the other players in the health care industry. And hospitals have boards of directors. We know this, but do we know what they do, or who they are? Dr. Roy Poses of Health Care Renewal has written an article about hospital boards that might make your blood pressure rise a notch or two. The board he wrote about is comprised of 42 members, only 13 of whom are physicians. Most of them have employment histories with the financial industry, and quite a few have conflicts of interest. Dr. Poses floats the idea that board members (who are responsible for choosing new members) might be more interested in picking members who fit in with their exclusive social group than with finding members who are truly interested in keeping costs down and providing superior patient services.
Here in Colorado, Pete Coors – of Molson Coors Brewing Company fame – is on the board of the University of Colorado Hospital. Other board members include the the vice-chairman of the Colorado Rockies baseball team, the wife of the mayor of Vail, and the owner of an upscale clothing store. And that’s just one hospital.
In order to make health insurance premiums (the direct cost that consumers tend to notice) more affordable, we have to make health care more affordable. Perhaps filling our hospital board of director rosters with a Who’s Who of the richest people in the city isn’t the best way to go about that mission.
I found Dr. Poses’ article in the Health Wonk Review, hosted last week by Hank Stern of InsureBlog. Several new bloggers are included whose work I hadn’t read previously, so be sure to head over and take a look.