Support balance billing; How doctors lose money; Finding rural doctors; Online medicine thriving

Hospitals and doctors are speaking out against the balance billing ban in California. Balance billing is the only mechanism that gives physicians a recourse against unilateral payment decisions made by insurance companies and the government. It has to be an essential feature of any major health reform proposal. (via the WSJ Health Blog)

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Primary care physicians can least afford to lose money. Limiting patient contact hours is the biggest revenue-limiting culprit. Since that’s the only way office doctors can get paid, finding ways to expand hours and maximize access should be the overarching goal.

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What does it take to recruit a family physician (via Rural Doctoring) in Idaho? Well, a lot more than they’re doing now. It takes a special breed to practice rural medicine, and this piece shows you why.

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Tough economic times are causing people to delay or forgo preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies. One area that is thriving is on-line medical consulting, where doctors can answer patient questions on the internet for a small fee: “In the past month, traffic on the five-year-old advice site JustAnswer.com rose 14 percent . . . In a telling sign, inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.”

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“Thanks for taking my insurance.” With doctors increasingly dropping poor-paying, high-hassle insurers, patients are more appreciative of physicians who accept Tricare, Medicare, or Medicaid.

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Massachusetts’ failed health reform plan was entirely predictable if you only had asked practicing physicians. No primary care access means increased emergency department utilization which contributes to soaring health care costs. Senator Obama is going to fall into the same trap if his national plan, which is similar in many ways to Massachusetts, is passed.

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Want to do CPR correctly? Think John Travolta.

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Charity Doc resurfaces. Well, not really – but he reposts how he would fix the health care system. Well worth reading.

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