This is the second of three articles addressing human cheating and predatory practices causing financial harms to health care systems.
This post explores “inside-the-system” harms. The third in this series will review “outside-the-system” harms. This reference to “systems” is important. Becoming effective and controlling financial harms requires complex systems thinking. This is the world of nonlinearity and developing anti-abuse/misuse and fraud learning cultures. Mitigating these two different types of harms are not that same, while and at same time cannot be considered separately. The stuff of complex thinking – requires a deep understanding the relationship between parts.
Efficient delivery of health care is built on trust that diagnosing physicians/practitioners and other services providers, here-to-after referred to as billing agents, will do the right thing. It is hard to imagine this system working in any other way.
Reciprocal cooperation , also referred to as reciprocal altruism, is complex and chaotic. Cheating is everywhere in nature. Administrators should anticipate trusted billing agents cheating a little bit. They should expect cheating to increase if they believe their peers are cheating. When people are reminded of their morality close to the time of a temptation, cheating goes down. The message from behavioral biologists; there is no such thing as “free will” in resisting cheating temptations, and no-more-so than when resilience is depleted.
If not handled well, controls administrators do more harm than good, first with negative relationships providing rationalizations (excuses) when trusted billing agents are tempted to do bad things. Secondly, if offended cooperation decreases in reducing other types of misuse and abuse, both inside the system (corruption, fraud and workplace sabotage), and from outside the system (beneficiary abuse, enterprise medical crime networks, regional gang activity such as accident benefits and bodily injury claims, and at the top of the predatory food chain – transnational organized crime).
In the late 1970s, Robert Alexrod’s now famous game theory tournaments searched for effective everyday cooperation models. This came out of initial insights learned from playing out Prisoner’s Dilemma. The “tit for tat’ reciprocal cooperation model that emerged was evidenced by behavioral biologists and ethologists observing animals in their natural environments. The ultimate game theory model today is generous (forgiving) tit for tat’. It wins out every time in reciprocal cooperation, game theory modelling.
Perhaps there are lessons to be learned here on how to develop cooperative relationships with trusted billing agents.
Health care is part of a nation’s critical infrastructure (CI). It is the largest public cash dispensing sector of the United States and Canadian economies. Ten times that of defense. Health care services delivery is an extraordinarily complex system. Within this context, conversation on misuse, abuse and predatory fraud controls must be broken down into smaller ecosystems to make sense of the issues and counter measures.
Definition: Ecosystems are, “living organisms in conjunction with nonliving components of their environment interacting with the system.”
This is the first of three articles addressing human cheating and predatory practices causing financial harms to health care systems.
The United States spends in excess of 17.3% of GDP on health care. It is a complicated vertical system of public and private sector plans. People falling between the cracks end up uninsured. The result can be physically, emotionally and financially catastrophic for families.
Far and way, the United States has the most expensive per capita health care spending in the world. In “A License to steal: How Fraud Bleeds America’s Health Care System”, Harvard University’s Malcolm K. Sparrow explores the health care delivery system’s defenses from predatory attacks and makes recommendations on controls that are for most part unheeded across North America.
Canada spends in excess of 10.53 % of GDP on health care benefits and services. The Canadian system is horizontal; with basic care for everyone meeting status and residency requirements. It is topped up by private plans for unregulated services, Some costs are also absorbed by the property and casualty insurance industry in the case of injury related accidents.
Increasingly larger portions of provincial budgets is sunk into universal health care resulting in insidious deregulation of formerly paid for publicly services. In “Chronic Condition; What Canada’s Health Care System Needs to Be Dragged Into the 21st Century”, Jeffrey Simpson explores the options with a growing problem the Canadian system faces; including cuts to “nonessential” services, tax increases, various types of privatization, and finding savings within health care itself.
The next post in this series addresses inside-the-system financial harms and controls. The third in this series explores outside-the-system financial harms and controls. The distinction between these two types of harms and controls is too often poorly defined.