Migrating to the U.S. as an international medical graduate, I was shocked by the health care culture of excess. Initially, it felt good to order a CT scan on everyone who had a fall or cardiac enzymes on anybody who had atypical chest pain. I felt powerful and light years ahead of the system I left behind, where you would have to very cautious about ordering diagnostic tests as, mostly, ...

Read more...

It was the middle of winter in downtown Chicago in 1995, and I was sitting across from an apologetic alcoholic holding a slimy NG tube. Mr. Smith, an emaciated man in his sixties, had been on my service for three days with acute pancreatitis, and this was the fifth nasogastric tube that had "slipped" out of his nose. Subsequently, his morning labs were just as bad as they had been on ...

Read more...

Over half of Medicare spending is concentrated in 10 percent of patients. With Medicare expenditures rising at an unsustainable clip, reigning in the costs of those patients is key to controlling health care spending.

So who are those patients and what expenses are they racking up?

It’s not who or what I expected. When I think of high-cost patients, I envision people with drawn-out hospital stays, or imagine people ...

Read more...

Dean Ernest had been living in a nursing home about a year when his son, John, got a call last winter asking if his father was experiencing back pain and would like a free orthotic brace. The caller said he was with Medicare. John Ernest didn’t believe him, said “no” to the brace and hung up. He didn’t give out his father’s Medicare number. And yet, not just one, but 13 braces ...

Read more...

I am going to make a prediction here. No matter who we elect in 2020, Bernie or Trump or anything in between, Medicare for all is not going to happen in America. One can run an electrifying campaign on the promise of Medicare for all, or indignantly against it, but this is pure theater on both sides. I don’t know if God can make a rock so big and heavy ...

Read more...

The Democratic debates this summer demonstrated massive confusion around Medicare for all. Does it mean Medicare for all who want it? Medicare Advantage? A "public option" on an Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange? Democrats need to get their story straight. The confusion is understandable. Medicare for all has been an aspiration since at least the New Deal, but since 1965, when Congress ...

Read more...

The monumental shift in health care from fee-for-service or a volume-based approach to value-based care will change health care delivery for the better in the United States.  When physicians do what is necessary and avoid over-testing and procedures of limited or no value, the outcomes are best for the patient, and for the entire health care system. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have tested and continue to test models ...

Read more...

Every day I receive all kinds of emails and other ads telling me about services offering me help to meet MIPS quality metrics. While they may be helpful, most doctors don’t see the need for such a program. It drives up costs in administering and time in needless metrics reporting. Yet, give us a new regulation and a whole industry is going to pop up to profit ...

Read more...

As calls for radical health reform grow louder, many on the right, in the center and in the health care industry are arguing that proposals like “Medicare for all” would cause economic ruin, decimating a sector that represents nearly 20% of our economy. While exploring a presidential run, former Starbucks chief Howard Schultz called Medicare for all “not American,” adding, “What industry are we going to abolish next — ...

Read more...

This is a brief explanation of Medicare from a physician's perspective, as well as my thoughts on how Congress could make adjustments that would bring us closer to universal care and provide the private market the freedom to improve health care outcomes. Medicare is a national health insurance program that provides health insurance for Americans ages 65 and older, and those who are disabled or have specific chronic conditions. Medicare covers ...

Read more...

Recent polls show a majority of Americans support Medicare for all, but few seem to realize that no other system in the world operates like the current single payer proposals in Congress. Recently, I addressed the concept of single-payer health care, with Cuba's system as an example. Today I'm writing more about the ideas being discussed now in our country and how those compare to other nations ...

Read more...

Kaiser Health News told the story of a 69-year-old woman who went to a new doctor for her annual check-up, assuming it was covered by Medicare and was happy with the visit until she got a $400 bill. Most Americans believe in “annual check-ups,” at which your doctor reviews your medical history, gives you a thorough physical and orders lab tests. The actual value of such visits has been questioned, but ...

Read more...

With the 2020 election cycle already moving into high gear, we are hearing a lot about Medicare for all. But is it a serious campaign promise, a catchy bumper sticker or a viable national program? Supporters suggest it will be a panacea for our nation’s health insurance needs. Others are less sure. And some are downright opposed. So where do we go? As a starting point, there are things we can ...

Read more...

The evolving politics of single-payer health care conflate the concepts of universal coverage, health care on demand and free health care. To the indiscriminate progressive mind, all three are part of the holy grail. The fly in the ointment is that highly attractive and altruistic politics runs into the brick wall of reality. As Thomas Sowell — a noted Stanford economist — wrote: "The first lesson of economics is scarcity: ...

Read more...

Medicare for all is one of the leading campaign issues among the Democratic presidential candidates. Michigan Rep. John Conyers first introduced the idea in Congress in 2003. It went nowhere, but as the one-time party of JFK morphed into something much further left, Medicare for all rose from the dead. Medicare for all promises universal coverage, so that no one is without insurance. Unfortunately, it is cost prohibitive, costing as much as ...

Read more...

Like many accountable care organizations, Austin Regional Clinic (ARC) in Texas is building a record of success on the Medicare Shared Savings Program’s (MSSP) so-called “Track One.” Now looming, however, is an automatic transfer of ARC to the MSSP’s riskier “second track” after years of hard work implementing our value-based, population health treatment model. On the first track, ARC and other ACOs assume “upside risk,” getting rewarded for taking on overall ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

While hundreds of doctors have submitted (mostly unfavorable) comments to CMS on the proposed evaluation and management changes, there are other issues which seem to be receiving much less attention than they deserve. And one of those may hit physicians who perform procedures in the wallet. In 2015, Congress asked CMS to analyze the global period data to ensure procedure weighting accurately reflected the actual work done by physicians. Of course, ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

I am a terrible coder. I think I am a pretty good doctor, but when it comes to coding, the process of figuring out which billing code to pick to assign to a bill for an office visit, I am hopeless. No matter how many times I have had the rules explained to me, or how much feedback I have been given about specific visits, or which “pocket guide” to ...

Read more...

50 Pages

Most Popular

Join 150,000+ subscribers

Get the best of KevinMD in your inbox

Sign me up! It's free. 
close-link
✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers 
✓ Get KevinMD's 5 most popular stories
Subscribe. It's free.