Policy

Tips for questioning costs in today’s health care system

by Joanna Fief

About two years ago in the wee hours of the morning, I found myself in a local emergency room with severe stomach pain, incessant vomiting and dehydration.  It wasn’t pretty, and I was desperate for something – anything – to ease my pain and stop my vomiting.

Gratefully, within minutes of receiving an IV with medications for pain and nausea, my symptoms subsided.  After a couple of blood tests …

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Free clinics need more government funding

by Cole Petrochko

The nation’s free clinics provide medical service to 1.8 million patients annually — more than half of those clinics operate without government funding and serve patients who are almost all uninsured — according to the first census of free clinics in 40 years.

Responses to a national mail survey by 764 free clinics in the U.S., reported in the June issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, revealed that …

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Doctors make far less money than most people think

A video excerpt from The Vanishing Oath, a film directed by Ryan Flesher, MD.

The average physician salary in the United States is $146,000 — which is undeniably a lot of money at face value.

But it’s a lot less when you factor in the overhead costs that doctors incur.  And that’s not including the medical school debt which, on average, exceeds $150,000.

This clip shows how the take home pay of …

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Why did Canadian premier Danny Williams come to the United States for heart surgery?

Originally published in MedPage Today

by Michael Smith, MedPage Today North American Correspondent

It is rare that a simple matter of patient choice causes an international flap.

But that’s what happened when 60-year-old Danny Williams of St. John’s, Newfoundland, decided to go to the U.S. for heart surgery.

That’s because Williams isn’t just any old Newfoundlander — he’s the premier of Canada’s easternmost …

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How health care reform can improve public health

by Paula Hartman Cohen

Have we overlooked the public health aspect of health care reform?

In the health care reform debate, we’ve heard and read how health care reform will or will not work, what it will or will not cost, and how it will or will not impact each one of us as individuals.

We’ve also heard from those who have great faith in our current system, and sincerely believe we should …

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Is health care a public good?

by Jeoffry B. Gordon, MD, MPH

The public policy and current political action around changing the system overlooks two important technical fallacies:

(1) That health care is most efficiently distributed by a free market mechanism; and,
(2) That medical services are an ordinary commodity.

The commercial market model is a failing economic and public policy ideology used to rationalize and justify corporate control of the health care system to profit from the enterprise. …

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Once you hit Medicare age, good luck finding a primary care doctor

Almost 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have trouble finding a new primary care doctor.

Expect that number to rise dramatically in the near future, as the number of Medicare beneficiaries balloons, and the amount of primary care physicians plummets.

The whole scenario is a perfect example of how poor physician access makes medical coverage practically worthless.

Contrary to popular belief, Medicare’s paperwork requirements and …

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Relative value units, and how the RVU payment system doesn’t allow doctors to practice good medicine

For those who don’t know, every piece of work that a doctor performs is quantified and measured.

The base unit of physician work is known as the relative value unit (RVU). Most physician salaries are determined by the amount of RVUs a doctor produces in a given year, and in most cases, can range between$35 and $45 per RVU in primary care, depending on geographic location and …

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When primary care refuses to accept Medicare

It’s never a problem, until it affects you.

Baby Boomers are going to be Medicare beneficiaries within the next few years, and some are finding out how difficult it is to find a primary care doctor.

Nationwide, about 30 percent of Medicare patients had difficulty finding a primary care physician during the past year.

As one patient puts it, “I must have made 12 calls before …

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