Whether you’ve praised or vilified Obamacare, see it as an amazing achievement or an existential threat, it is the law of the land.  The price transparency created by online exchanges, a vital part of the law, stands to make cost the biggest driver of choice. This, along with cuts in government health spending, will disrupt the economics of health care in dramatic new ways. Our first response to this brave new ...

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At a crowded townhall meeting in 1959, an elderly woman stepped up to the microphone and spoke to a panel of senators. "I am not worried for my son's time," she began. "He is 35, and I am sure he will face a better future when his time comes to retire. But what is to be done for those of us who need help right now?" This was one of a ...

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The venerable University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston will accept patients with traditional Texas Medicaid health insurance, and some patients in Medicaid managed care plans. Memorial Hermann, another large health system in Houston, will accept traditional Medicaid patients and also those in Medicaid managed care plans. Neither institution will accept the Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO silver plan sold on the Affordable Care marketplace, according to 
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The 2-1 decision by the DC Court of Appeals striking down federal premium subsidies, in at least the 27 states that opted for the feds to run their Obamacare insurance exchanges, has the potential to strike a devastating blow to the new health law. The law says that individuals can get subsidies to buy health insurance in the states that set up insurance exchanges. That appears to exclude the states that do ...

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Many hospitals rely on bond funding for their expansion and the purchase of new equipment.  Revenue that is created by the hospital is then used to pay back the bondholders.  The risk to bondholders is that they are generally paid after the hospital pays its operational expenses.  Therefore, if the hospital is less profitable than expected (or not profitable at all), bondholders assume the financial risk. Hospitals have historically been rated ...

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Luxury goods are items that people purchase in disproportionately greater amounts as their income increases. That’s how economists think of them anyway. But for the average American, a luxury good means something else. We tend to think of luxury goods being things like designer clothing, luxury cars, and high-end restaurants. Our minds fill with images of Gucci, Burberry, and Luis Vuitton, or Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Ferrari. One thing is clear to ...

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Having just retired on July 1st, my medical group's commercial health insurance policy is no longer available to me. However, being past 65, I started a year ago applying for Medicare benefits. Despite my knowledge in this field, I had assumed this would be a snap. I also had assumed that my Medicare patients who enrolled in a Medicare HMO (Medicare Advantage) did so for purely economic reasons. My experience has ...

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When Uncle Will needed a hip replacement, he chose an orthopedic surgeon, Jason Brockman, and Mountain Memorial Hospital because of their excellent reputations for low complication rates and satisfied patients. The process reminded him of when he bought his first brand new truck. Norm and Clara Anderson chose Dr. Wheeler as their family doctor once they had made the decision to relocate to Maine and raise their family away from the ...

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We believe in data. We are scientists after all. And yet in this new era of big data is it possible we are measuring the wrong things? Most measures of physician performance are process or intermediate outcome measures aimed at a production line model of care. Was an A1c done, did the physician use a computer to send an order to the laboratory, were antibiotics given within two hours of presentation. Yet ...

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The Commonwealth Fund just published its fourth Mirror, Mirror on the Wall study comparing the U.S. health care system with other countries, and as in all previous studies, we ranked as the absolutely worst health care system in the developed world, bar none. Yikes. The Commonwealth Fund studied many health care domains, and we didn’t rank in first place for anything. The best we managed to do is place a lackluster third ...

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