I teach first-year medical students how to take a medical history and perform physical exams on patients. These skills are the foundation of medicine. The history and physical exam (plus a few basic tests) are time-tested methods for diagnosing disease. Using these tools, a skilled physician can reach an accurate diagnosis more often than not. We humans share a standard range of symptoms. Pain, weight loss, fever, cough, abdominal complaints: They are ...

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA), widely known as “Obamacare,” has survived several repeal attempts by Congress. Storm clouds, however, are still on the horizon. The ACA’s individual mandate obligates every American to be covered by comprehensive health insurance. This requirement has been the most unpopular feature of the law. That’s because healthy people, especially those who are self-employed or between jobs, have found the ACA premiums too expensive. They are not alone. Health ...

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Walking down the street, I sometimes see people who appear to be strolling in a cloud. These folks are wrapped in vapor they inhale from e-cigarettes — a practice called vaping. Vaping devices first emerged in the late 1990s. They feature a battery-powered heating element that heats up liquid nicotine to create an aerosol, which is free from the toxic byproducts of cigarette combustion. In theory, this ...

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Why is U.S. health care so costly compared to other developed countries? A recently published report provides some insights. In a study of 11 countries, Harvard researchers found that while the United States has the highest health costs relative to its GDP, its use of services is average. More specifically, the U.S. ranks lower than nearly every other country in doctors’ visits, hospitalizations, hospital days, and consultative services. The difference is ...

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The costs of many generic drugs have skyrocketed. In some cases, the price of a single pill has increased over 500 percent. But help may be on the way. Recently several large and respected non-profit hospital systems indicated that they will "fire a shot across the bow" of the generic drug business. That would be a game-changer. Why has the price of generics skyrocketed? Some large drug companies have purchased ...

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As the health care debate drags on, prescription drug costs continue to rise by almost 10 percent annually. It is the rare patient who is spared this expense. Over the years, I have seen how these costs have affected my patients. At first, most patients had little in the way of co-pays. However, once the local economy deteriorated, co-pays skyrocketed as employers tried to curb their health ...

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According to published reports, over 50 percent of doctors are burned out. The reason? They are overwhelmed by payment and quality rules as well as poor information technology. It’s no secret that physicians spend long hours seeing patients. But as financial pressures have mounted within hospitals, doctors are forced to perform more administrative tasks. In fact, administrative tasks account for nearly ...

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Every patient eventually asks the same question: “How can I find the best hospitals and doctors?” The solution might seem easy, since we live in a world where information is readily available on the Internet. In a few clicks we can shop for goods, review consumer products, market ourselves on social media, and complete financial transactions instantly. You would think that health care, which accounts for 17 percent of the GDP, ...

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The main character in the popular film Groundhog Day is caught in a time loop where he must repeat the same day over and over again. The U.S. Senate is now having its own Groundhog Day moment as it debates (yet again) a law to replace the Affordable Care Act. To add to the drama, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is promoting his single payer alternative popularly branded as “Medicare for All.” In a recent ...

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As Congress returns from its summer recess, the health care debate is sure to heat up … again. And over the past few months, the debate has had a significant impact on public opinion. A recent report describes how Americans currently view the ACA. According to national polls, over 90 percent of Americans would change the current law. Most Democrats would expand ACA coverage while most Republicans ...

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