In an ironic analogy to the recent Occupy Wall Street movement publicizing the wealth gap between America’s elite and the general public, the health care world also has its own infamous 1%. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s 2012 report, the top 1% of health care seekers incurs nearly a third of the nation’s $1.26 trillion yearly health care expenses (and up to half of this expenditure ...

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In a previous post, I described how the American health care system is morphing into a system designed to service impoverished populations, and concluded that the transition “will take time, thoughtful planning, lots of innovation and a carefully cultivated disdain for human life.” However, a new blog post from Dr. Peter Ubel makes me think that it may not take that much time after all. It seems that Dr. Ubel ...

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The unrelenting opposition by American conservatives to Obamacare may have the unintended consequence of leading the United States to a single-payer system like Canada’s. How’s that, you say? Isn’t the whole point of conservative opposition to Obamacare to drive home the point that the government is incapable of managing people’s health care?  Yes.  And aren’t conservatives effective in driving home that point? Yes, polls show that confidence in government is at ...

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“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on. “I do,” Alice hastily replied; “at least–at least I mean what I say–that’s the same thing, you know.” “Not the same thing a bit!” said the Hatter. “You might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see!” The brilliant Lewis Carroll had a field day with logical fallacies in ...

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I am a long-time proponent of measuring provider performance and aligning it with payment as an effective means for improving the quality of care and with it, patient outcomes. Because of this, I welcomed the value-based purchasing concepts and quality improvement initiatives that are fundamental to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But, as in so many things, the devil is in the details and, despite their best efforts, measure designers can't always ...

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This is a simple plan that would empower patients, improve the lot of primary care physicians and likely hold down medical costs while improving quality in the health care system. I would first like to present the plan, then elaborate on how it could accomplish the above objectives. The first part of the plan would set aside a portion of each person’s health care dollars (i.e., insurance premiums) and place it ...

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We hear a lot about the death of the independent physician practice. But perhaps the more important discussion is about the death of practicing medicine independently. That is, the days when individual physician groups could operate their businesses and treat patients independently and without regard to the surrounding network of other physicians, nursing facilities, health networks, social workers, case managers, and other support is over. It doesn’t matter whether the physician ...

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For years, critics of Obamacare (Affordable Care Act), have predicted that it would turn out to be a “train wreck” -- or something worse.  But now we know that by every objective measure, the ACA is working out pretty darn well.  Let’s run through the “train wreck” predictions, and what we now know to actually be the case: Train wreck prediction #1: “Obamacare will lead to skyrocketing health care cost increases and ...

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After 12 years of blogging, I wonder if I should have titled my blog “unintended consequences.” So many rants focus on the unintended consequences that follow from health care policies. The aphorism (falsely attributed to Samuel Johnson) states, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Too often our policy makers, be they bureaucrats in government, insurance company managers or guideline creators, think like a chess beginner. They see the ...

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As Americans, we love to associate with groups. More than that -- we love to plant ourselves in a group, stand firmly in our decision, and then adamantly refuse to budge or to see the other party’s perspective. Pro-life. Pro-choice. Democrat. Republican. Pro-Obamacare. Anti-Obamacare. I suppose for all of us, myself included, it is easy to identify with our group of choice when we are sitting at home watching or reading our ...

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