With notably few exceptions, the American health care system has been financed on the basis of volume rather than value. That means that we’ve been paying providers for everything that they do, rather than paying them for the outcomes they produce. This is not common in other fields. For example, if you are in an accident and have to take your car to a body shop, you (or your insurance company) ...

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Recently, "60 Minutes" (in my view the last bastion of great traditional network news investigative reporting) described a for-profit hospital system that apparently uses percent targets (allegedly 20%) to encourage high admission rates by their ER doctors. In setting up this report, the reporter commented that as much as 10% of healthcare expenditures in this country were "unnecessary." Actually, most health experts I have read and consulted would put that number much ...

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A lot of us get health benefits through our workplace, and employers are increasingly turning to wellness programs as a means of reducing costs and improving productivity. In the coming year, as aspects of the Affordable Care Act take effect, many employers will provide even greater incentives for participation in programs that require the employee to achieve certain wellness goals, such as smoking cessation or weight loss. What this means for the ...

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A guest column by the American Medical Association, exclusive to KevinMD.com. When health plans have merged, they've said that a bigger insurance company would drive down premiums. The casual acceptance of this economic fallacy led to more than a decade of unchecked megamergers that helped health plans cement dominant market positions across the country. It’s now clear that when health insurers talk ...

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When you walked into the voting booth on Tuesday, November 6, did you do so with a feeling of calm certainty that the man who would get your vote for President was unquestionably the best choice, or even the only possible choice?  Did you feel confident that your candidate’s political party fully supports your political views as well as your personal values? For many physicians, I suspect that the answer to ...

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A guest column by the American College of Physicians, exclusive to KevinMD.com. Recently, I was invited to speak at an ACP chapter meeting on the topic of shared vision. In the talk, I used as examples Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Steve Jobs, leaders whose visions inspired people and helped them to achieve great things. As I wrote the talk, it occurred to me that ...

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Those who resist health care reform point to America’s great cancer care – instead, we should protect “the best health care system in the world.” After all, if we’re the best, other countries should change, not us. Do we really have the world’s best cancer care? A good indication is the American survival rate for breast cancer, the world’s longest. But ...

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I recently said I would describe the essential elements of "true reform." I realize others might add or subtract from my list, but here it is – at least for today: Payment reform. I put this first because no matter what form or structure healthcare takes, without payment reform it will be doomed to failure. And by "payment reform" I mean switching from the "fee for service" model I discussed in ...

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The growing concern about reducing the cost of healthcare delivery is the major focus in revamping the U.S. healthcare system. There have been numerous attempts to better understand the key drivers contributing to rising healthcare costs, yet the ability to successfully control the rising trend has been met with consistent challenges. A key motivating factor of the Affordable Care Act was to drive ...

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Of all the complex, costly, and downright intimidating issues in U.S. healthcare today, Super Storm Sandy tops my list as the scariest. Even though hospitals from the Carolinas to Maine deployed their emergency plans and had extra providers on site to deal with the expected influx of patients, those in the hardest hit areas couldn't withstand such a powerful storm surge. Like many ...

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