Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I gawr-on-tee it

There was a chef named Justin Wilson in the early days of the Food Channel. He was a "Cajun cook" and humorist with a heavy accent. He would consistently tell the audience that they were going to like his recipe, with the catchphrase "I gawr-on-tee it" (phon.) It developed a following, and he gawr-on-teed products in television ads also, such as Cajun spiced potato chips.

His persona came to my memory when I recently read a story on Florida Today that proclaimed a provider in Florida that sells warranties on spine surgery. Florida Today reported a physician "is now offering warranties for spine surgeries." Under his offer, this physician's "practice assures its patients that their back pain will be eliminated after surgery." 

There are some stated restrictions. The "warranty covers the area of the spine where the surgery" is performed, as in "cervical or lumbar region." Furthermore, "all services must be provided at this articular surgeon's offices or facilities. 

Describing the warranty plan as a "win-win-win" solution, this physician says that his practice can offer this warranty because of their "proven outcomes," and the breadth of services offered by his practice. A spokesperson for the clinics told the Florida Today that "the response has been fantastic from patients, insurance companies and work comp carriers." 

There is a cost for the warranty, it does not come with the surgery the way a warranty comes with a new car. The cost? According to the vice-president of the practice, "the warranty differs in price depending on what type of procedure is performed," the "age of the patient," and covers a certain period of years. 

The physician says that he is "willing to stand behind our results, to cover any additional treatment the patient may need." He guarantees "his practice will eliminate all back pain, chronic or not." As it is described, however, the warranty sounds more like a promise to continue providing other care after surgery. In other words, continued complaints post-surgery would continue to be treated at the doctor's facilities without further charge. 

Not exactly a Justin Wilson gawr-on-tee of a good outcome from surgery. It is more of a "we'll keep treating you after surgery" promise. But is there a place in the medical profession for physicians to commit to conclusion of treatment with some fixed cost - such as the spine surgery warranty offered in this example? There is much discussion in workers' compensation and group insurance about the predictability of the marketplace. Can a concept of a provider-backed warranty such as this provide that predictability?

Do we really want our physician telling us, "you gonna feel much more better, I gawr-on-tee it?"



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