I am all for transparency when it comes to health care. So when Medicare announced that it would tell the public how much doctors are paid to treat Medicare patients, my first thought was "hooray." Another victory for consumer information. Then I began to think about this in more depth. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in response to a ruling in a federal case in Florida ...

Read more...

The main purpose of health reform, said the president at a recent press conference, was to provide health insurance to people at affordable rates. He meant the nub of Obamacare -- the state shopping exchanges with their smorgasbord of insurance policies -- would give coverage to millions of Americans who did not have insurance. Whether that coverage will be affordable or comprehensive for families remains to be seen. What is crystal ...

Read more...

The specter of loss of choice and freedom to select the doctor you want haunts again. This time it’s being raised on the airwaves with an ad from Americans for Prosperity, a group that advocates limited government and free markets. The ad, an attack on Obamacare, plants doubt in viewers’ minds about whether they can choose their own doctor, a theme that continues to resonate with both the public and ...

Read more...

One could easily make a case that health care is today’s biggest consumer problem—not unlike those that sparked the consumer movement of the 1960s and 70s. Back then, consumer issues centered on problems with using credit, buying cars and home improvement services, and obtaining the best price for food, appliances, and just about every other new-fangled and expensive product that sprang from the post-war economy. Like many old consumer problems, health ...

Read more...

On a recent trip to Lincoln, NE, I visited Lincoln Industries, a company that makes chrome trims for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I was curious about the firm’s award-winning wellness program, especially since more employers are penalizing workers by making them pay more for their health insurance if they fail to meet certain health goals. At the heart of Lincoln Industries’ wellness program is its Platinum Scorecard, which awards points to workers who ...

Read more...

Twelve years ago, in its landmark study Crossing the Quality Chasm, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that “the health care industry is plagued with overutilization of services, underutilization of services, and errors in health care practice.” In simple English, the IOM reported that health care was riddled with overuse, underuse and misuse of medical services. The IOM also defined quality health care as “the degree to which health ...

Read more...

Maligned over the last decade as places to avoid because of the price of the care they delivered, a study by the RAND Corporation goes a long way toward improving the image of hospital emergency rooms (ERs). The ER price tag was too high for the insurance companies that paid the bills, so many of them tried to discourage ER use by designing policies with high coinsurance and copayments ...

Read more...

In America, the conventional wisdom is that we don't ration health care. But we do, and there's no better example than patients rationing themselves when it comes to the medicines they take. Recently, a young twenty-something I know had a nagging cough—seasonal allergies, her doctor said and prescribed a generic medicine for asthma and allergies. She did not fill the prescription—the $160 price tag was too steep. Although she had health ...

Read more...

We in the press are accustomed to PR folks “advising” us of all the good things that hospitals do. They open new pavilions named for wealthy benefactors of new cancer and heart centers and children’s care, with media coverage of the ribbon-cutting ceremonies attended by famous faces. They buy big new machines that smash and diagnose illness and want the world to know about that, too. But a press release that ...

Read more...

At last it was time for my cataract surgery. Having had one eye surgery done by a different physician in another New York eye and ear specialty hospital a few months earlier, I knew what to look for and could make comparisons from a patient perspective. As I noted months ago on this blog, I really had no choice of hospitals. If I wanted my trusted doctor to ...

Read more...

2 Pages