It was a huge relief to Carol Thompson in 2011 when her breast cancer drug Femara (letrozole) went off patent and became available in a generic version. With a high deductible in her private insurance plan, Thompson was forking over $450 for a month’s supply of the life-saving drug. After the generic hit the market she was thrilled to find letrozole available for just $11 a month at Costco. But ...

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It is hardly an understatement to characterize the health insurance exchange rollout as a big disappointment. A botched website poses a serious problem and threatens to dampen enthusiasm for the new law -- especially among the coveted “young invulnerables” who need to sign up for coverage to keep premiums affordable for all. In the short term, the website troubles put the Obama administration firmly back on the defensive, scrambling to ...

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I’m not a big fan of bargaining and my half-hearted attempts to get a better price for a used car, garage sale find or contractor’s service have been mostly unsuccessful. There’s always that nagging feeling that the seller is laughing with delight once I’m gone, thinking, “I really pulled one over on that rube!” And so it has come as somewhat of a shock to me that medical care has become ...

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Arkansas is now the first state to use Medicaid expansion dollars to buy private coverage for many of its 250,000 newly eligible residents rather than enroll them in the existing Medicaid program. The Arkansas House of Representatives approved the plan, followed by the  Senate, to confirm that the state will be implementing this “market-based approach” to expanding Medicaid. The idea of buying private insurance for Medicaid recipients is ...

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It sounds like heresy, but recent evidence challenges the long-held belief that the annual physical is beneficial for healthy adults. Researchers at the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen wrote that although a regular check-up with multiple screening tests might seem to offer the advantage of catching problems like heart disease and cancer early, their review of studies involving some 180,000 adults actually found no benefit. People who had ...

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The U.S. spends far more on cancer care than 10 European countries, but according to a new study, it may be “worth it” as “the value of the survival gains greatly outweighed the costs.” The study, published this week in Health Affairs, found that U.S. spending on cancer care, in 2010 dollars, increased by 49% from 1983 through 1999, from $47,000 per cancer case to $70,000 per case. Meanwhile, in ...

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Over the past decade or so, there have been at least 20 prescription drugs removed from the market, including several cases of high-profile blockbuster drugs that were found to be harmful only after millions of patients had taken them. Vioxx, the pain reliever sold by Merck is one example; taken by an estimated 20 million Americans, it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke in some patients. The company ...

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Danielle and Robb Deaver are living proof of the awful reality of Nebraska’s ill-conceived “fetal pain” law. The law, which took effect last October and is the only one of its kind in America, prohibits abortions in the state after the 20th week of pregnancy. It is based on the discredited notion that a fetus may feel pain at that stage of development. Physicians who break the law face ...

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After all the ridiculous fear-mongering about "death panels," Congress dropped a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning from the health reform legislation passed last March. But the administration had in fact quietly included reimbursing doctors for end-of-life counseling along with a host of new Medicare regulations. The provision, which authorizes payment for “voluntary advance care planning,” went into ...

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Recently, I had my first visit with my new primary care doctor. I picked him based on recommendations (plus he’s one of the few that accepts my insurance), and also because he seemed to be an eager adopter of electronic medical records (EMR). On his website, there was a portal for making appointments on-line, asking questions of the doctor and staff by e-mail and once a registered patient, I could also ...

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