On Monday, November 17th, Timothy S. Jost, Robert L. Willett Family Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, delivered the 4th-annual Raynes McCarty Distinguished Lecture in Health Law. Jost gave his lecture, entitled “Health Care at Risk: A Critique of the Consumer-Driven Movement” at both the Union League in Philadelphia over lunch and later in the day on Widener’s Delaware campus in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom.
Professor John Culhane
, Director of the Health Law Institute, welcomed those attending the lecture in the Ruby Vale, saying, “On behalf of the Health Law Institute, I would like to thank you all for attending the 4th-annual Raynes McCarty Lecture,” before introducing Professor Jost.
“Many of us hope that we are living in a time of change when it comes to Health Care,” opened Professor Jost before noting, “The Institute of Medicine in 2002 estimated that 18,000 people die each year due to a lack of health insurance.” With health care costs on the rise, more and more people have turned to high deductible, catastrophic health insurance plans in order to cut down on costs, taking to heart the idea, as Professor Jost put it, that “we need less health insurance, not more.” While noting, “Consumer-driven health care is an imprecise term,” he enumerated some of the advantages that proponents of the model often cite, including the idea that such point-of-service health care plans can drive down health insurance costs by limiting coverage to catastrophic events and eliminating the “over-insurance” that some plans provide now.
Despite the claims of consumer-driven health care advocates, however, Professor Jost suggested that there are several reasons to look at the movement with a more critical eye. He pointed out that any cost savings on insurance may simply push those costs to treatment, encouraging people to “forgo necessary preventative care such as colon cancer screening” in order to save money. He also questioned whether consumers were capable of making informed decisions about health care, especially when published information about price and quality is so sparse. Finally, he wondered if making the relationship between doctor and patient more of a business one was a good idea.
He concluded by asking of consumer-driven health care, “Should it proceed? Yes. I think it’s a good thing for consumers to have more information, but I draw the line at using consumer-driven health care as one more way to deny poor Americans access to health care.” After a round of applause, he took a couple of questions from the audience, including one on the issue of patient compliance in regard to health care savings accounts.
Professor Timothy S. Jost earned his B.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. He is a co-author of Health Law
, a casebook used widely throughout the United States, and has written extensively in the area of health law, including the books Health Care Coverage Determinations: An International Comparative Study
, The Threats Facing our Public Health Care Programs and a Rights-Based Response
, and Readings in Comparative Health Law and Bioethics
, now in its second edition. In 2007, Duke University Press published his most recent book, Health Care at Risk: A Critique of the Consumer-Driven Movement
The Raynes McCarty Lecture is made possible thanks to a generous gift from the law firm of Raynes McCarty, a Philadelphia firm that represents the catastrophically injured and their families.