American Medical News featured an article with the disturbing title, "Massive health job losses expected if Medicare sequester prevails." I wasn't entirely sure what a "sequester" was, since I thought it was a verb. Sequestration, I thought, was the noun. (I hear a loud knock. It must be the grammar police.) The story, as I understand it, is that when our government decided to pull together and raise the debt ceiling, ...

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What will health insurance cost in 2014? Will the new health insurance exchanges be ready on time or will the law have to be delayed? There will be sticker shock First, get ready for some startling rate increases in the individual and small group health insurance marketplace due to the changes the law dictates. In a November 2009 report, the CBO estimated that premiums in the individual market would increase 10% to 13% ...

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Several physicians contribute regularly to BMJ. One of my favorites is a GP in Glasgow named Des Spence. Through their writings, I have gained a glimpse of the challenges faced by GPs in the UK, and the broader culture in which they work. In two of his columns this summer, he railed against various early detection movements in the UK. In one column, he protests against Alzheimer’s disease advocates who ...

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I’ve been getting emails about the New York Times piece and my quotation that the penalties for readmissions are “crazy.”  It’s worth thinking about why the ACA gets hospital penalties on readmissions wrong, what we might do to fix it—and where our priorities should be. A year ago, on a Saturday morning, I saw Mr. “Johnson,” who was in the hospital with a pneumonia.  He was still breathing hard ...

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Costs and revenue: This is the oxygen of any business, any organization. What are your revenue streams? How much does it cost you to produce them? Life is not just about breathing, but, if you don’t get that in-out equation right, there is nothing else life can be about. Right now this enormous sector is turning itself inside out. It has turned the “transmogrification” setting to “warp.” Why? It’s all about ...

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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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