October 6, 2020

Why a Hospital Might Shun a Black Patient

By Amol S. Navathe and Harald Schmidt in New York Times Opinion

Doctors like to do good. They also like to make money. Technically, the ways in which physicians are paid are “colorblind.” Despite this, they contribute to inequality. It’s time to fix payment models that don’t address Covid-19’s disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities and don’t align with broader efforts to make health care fair.

Research shows that doctors are more likely to choose procedures and treatments that are more profitable for them, whether these are better for patients or not. For example, cancer doctors frequently recommend higher-cost chemotherapy because they profit handsomely from it. And hospitals do more of the kinds of surgeries that come with high profit margins, like hip and knee replacements and heart valve procedures, while limiting unprofitable services like psychiatry wards either by keeping only a small number of spots for patients or by simply not offering a dedicated psychiatry ward at all.

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