Professor discusses health care

Marla Ramos

News Reporter

Managed health care is stingy with its time, a University of Houston professor said at Tuesday's meeting of the Allied Health Professions Society.

Kathryn Peek, a professor in the College of Optometry, spoke at the monthly meeting about managed health care, known to most as health insurance, and how it relates to allied health professions.

Peek lectures on managed health care in her biomedical science class.

Allied health professions are those in the health field, including physical therapists, nurses, speech pathologists and physician's assistants. They do not include medical doctors or dentists.

Insurance has changed drastically over the past three to five years, Peek said. Three years ago, indemnified health care, or fee-for-service health care, enabled patients were able to visit a family practitioner or specialist first.

"There was no one to look over the physician's shoulder, so there was an incentive to over-treat," Peek said, explaining what was wrong with that type of health-care system.

Now there are HMOs and PPOs, which have applied business principles to health care. Now businessmen look over physicians' shoulders, second-guessing them and trying to make them more time-efficient.

Doctors are expected to be able to see a certain number of patients per hour and the time they can spend with each patient is limited, Peek said.

Although there is no longer an incentive to over-treat, Peek said, there are now business people making health-care decisions who are more worried about making money than providing proper care.

Students going into allied health professions must know about managed care for their interviews when applying to professional schools. "There's good and bad (aspects to) managed health care," Peek said, "The thing is, it's here now."

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