Here’s what most medical experts agree on: People 50 and older should be screened for colon cancer. Here’s what is more controversial: Whether that screening should start, routinely, at age 45. Recently, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommended that colon cancer screenings start at age 45. Their recommendation was based in large part on an uptick in the number of people 45 to 50 years old who are being diagnosed with colon cancer ...

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Chemotherapy drugs have become ridiculously expensive. Many new drugs come to market costing more than $100,000 per patient for a full course of treatment. Often, patients have to pay a significant portion of these costs. For example, a 20% co-insurance rate, typical for basic Medicare coverage, leaves patients responsible for more than $20,000 of chemotherapy costs, an often crippling burden. Fortunately, ...

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Sometimes it is hard for hospitals to provide expensive care to poor patients. When a low-income patient needs $20,000 of chemotherapy, a hospital loses money if that patient cannot pay for the medicine, or pays through Medicaid, with its relatively stingy reimbursement. Fortunately, the federal government created a program for hospitals that care for a disproportionate share of low-income patients, whereby they can purchase those medicines at a discount. The program ...

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Quick quiz question: two people are diagnosed with melanoma -- Sarah Sunburn, an adamant sun-worshipper, and Paula Pale-All-The-Time, a fanatical sun-avoider. Who is more likely to die of the disease? The answer is pale-faced Paula. Surprised? Let me unpack this mystery and explain why sun exposure simultaneously kills people, while making the cancers they are diagnosed with appear to be less life-threatening. I will start with what you probably know already. Melanoma ...

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The oncologist had prescribed Xgeva hoping it would strengthen her bones while also delaying the progression of Angela Kahn's breast cancer. But Kahn (a pseudonym) couldn't get over the price of the drug. Before the oncologist had a chance to ask how she was feeling, she blurted out that the medication cost "$15,000 a shot." "That's crazy," the oncologist replied, continuing by saying the price "fits right in with the ...

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About one in fifty people reading this essay will be diagnosed with kidney cancer at some time in their life. In fact, one out of one people writing this essay has already been diagnosed with kidney cancer. (I had a small tumor removed from my left kidney not long after I turned 50.) But how many people diagnosed with kidney cancer have been overdiagnosed with the condition? And what does moving to Florida have ...

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Everyone thinks of "Medicare for all" as a liberal idea, an extremely liberal one embraced by the socialist wing of the Democratic Party. It's an idea Democrats were hesitant to embrace in the Obama era, for being too far out of mainstream political thought. It was thought of as an idea that was too easy to demonize as socialism.

What everyone seems to be forgetting is that "Medicare for ...

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Elizabeth Warren describes medical bills as "the leading cause of personal bankruptcy" in the United States. She bases that opinion in part on her own research, in which she and her collaborators surveyed people who had experienced personal bankruptcy, asked them whether they'd experienced health-related financial distress, and concluded that 60 percent of all bankruptcies in the U.S. result from illness ...

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American physicians dole out lots of unnecessary medical care to their patients. They prescribe things like antibiotics for people with viral infections, order expensive CT scans for patients with transitory back pain, and obtain screening EKGs for people with no signs or symptoms of heart disease. Some critics even accuse physicians of ordering such services to bolster their revenue. So what happens when uninsured patients make it to the doctor’s office ...

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Recently I posted a piece, describing research out of Johns Hopkins, showing that when patients come to ERs -- either with no insurance or insurance that is out-of-network -- they often face charges that are four, six, or even ten-fold greater than what Medicare would pay for the same services. After the post, I was inundated with angry tweets and emails, mainly from emergency medicine ...

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