Archive for March 10th, 2010

Too Many Angiograms for Mercy Health Plans & Golden Rule Insurance Patients?

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

heartIn Malcolm Ritter’s Associated Press article “Study suggests too many invasive heart tests given,”  the frequency of angiograms is taken into question.  It is just one of the recent studies suggesting that Americans are getting too many unnecessary health tests.  It is a battle between doctors and insurance companies like Golden Rule Insurance and Mercy Health Plans.  Doctors are concerned about missing something and even about getting sued in some cases.  For this reason, they are much quicker to order expensive tests for their patients, at a high cost to insurance companies and government programs like Medicare.

An angiogram is performed on patients who may be having a heart attack or who have shown symptoms suggesting serious blockage around the heart.  They are also being frequently performed on patients whose symptoms are not as clear cut and those who have high risk traits for heart problems.  To perform the test, a small tube is put in either the arm or the groin and threaded through the body to the heart.  It checks for blocked arteries that could cause a heart attack by injecting dye through the tube and performing an x-ray.  Almost two-thirds of the patients that didn’t have clear cut symptoms don’t have serious blockage found.  Researchers believe that doctors need to do a better job  determining the patients that really need these expensive tests that have risks associated with them.  In order for insurance companies to function well, unnecessary and costly tests should be avoided when possible.  The question now is how doctors can best treat their patients while avoiding unnecessary testing.