I just received an email from my insurance company, Premera Blue Cross.
Dear subscriber, talk to a real doctor anytime, anywhere!
Set up your account with Teladoc.
And get medical care anytime, anywhere for $40 or less.
You and your eligible dependents can now get care from U.S. board-certified doctors and pediatricians by phone or online video with Teladoc®.
A real doctor? I’m not sure why they felt it necessary to add that adjective.
But aside from that, I was intrigued by the idea that my insurance company wanted to support, even encourage, my family’s use of telemedicine, so I … Continue reading
I ran into an old acquaintance a few days ago. As we got caught up, he asked “Do you remember Michael?”
“Yes,” I replied. “But I haven’t seen him in years. How is he?”
“Wow, what happened?” I inquired. Michael was relatively young, in his forties. I thought perhaps an accident or a heart attack or cancer.
“Chaparral poisoning. It destroyed his liver.” Huh.
I had never heard of chaparral, but as soon as I’d finished chatting with my friend, I googled it.
Chaparral (aka larrea) is a shrub native to the southwest. It’s also known as the … Continue reading
Are you tired of flipping through magazines and seeing three-page ads for prescription drugs? Or listening to a commercial that fast talks through a seemingly endless list of side effects and dangers?
Well, if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its way, you will see a change in how pharmaceutical companies are allowed to advertise their products.
Marketing drugs is a big business. In 2013, BigPharma’s Top 10 companies spent $98.3 billion promoting their drugs. Advertising that is targeted specifically at the patient is called direct-to-consumer marketing, or DTC.
Last year, Pfizer alone spent $1.4 billion on DTC … Continue reading
A report published last week detailed how much Medicare spends on prescription medications.
In 2013, Medicare spent $103 billion on drugs. (I’m guessing the total will be more in 2014 and 2015, when they get around to publishing that data.)
Federal officials said they hoped that disseminating the data would lead to new revelations about the prescribing patterns of doctors and for particular drugs.
Dan Mendelson, the CEO of Avalere, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm, said the data could provide patients with new questions about their prescription history when they visit their physician. “It’s really important to stimulate conversations
… Continue reading
Recently, a group of physicians wrote a letter to Columbia University asking that its celebrity doctor, Mehmet Oz, be removed from the faculty. The doctors cited Dr. Oz’s “egregious lack of integrity” and marketing of “quack treatments.”
I’ve written several posts blasting Dr. Oz and his slick promotion of “miracles”—most often pricey dietary supplements, for which there is little or no evidence that they work.
My favorite YouTube satire doc, ZDoggMD, put together this brilliant piece based on the TV show House of Cards. It’s called Dr. House of Cards and uses footage from the … Continue reading
When the cost of both brand name and generic levothyroxin skyrocketed two years ago, the first thing I did (after complaining loudly to the pharmacist, although it wasn’t his fault) was look at the Food and Drug Administrations’s (FDA) website.
Following the Economics 101 rule of supply and demand, the sudden price increase of a drug is usually due to a shortage. Sometimes ingredients are difficult to find, or a quality control issue has limited the supply.
The FDA has a page that lists all known drug shortages, including the reason for the shortage and how long it is … Continue reading
The last few weeks have been stressful for my family as my 93-year-old father suffered a heart attack, a stroke and other medical problems that led to a 2-week hospital stay (I’m amazed he survived that), a 10-day stay in a skilled nursing facility, and—just this weekend—a move into an adult family home.
He needs round-the-clock care that my 85-year-old arthritic mother can’t provide in their home.
In a few weeks, I’m sure I will be helping her sift through an enormous pile of statements, explanations of benefits (EOBs) and invoices related to my dad’s care.
Sure Medicare will pick … Continue reading
I love John Abramson’s work. He’s a physician and kind of the original whistle-blower on Big Pharma. He wrote a brilliant book, Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine, in which he outlined how the aggressive marketing techniques and biased medical research of the giant pharmaceutical companies have led to the overuse of many prescription drugs.
The pervasive use of statins is one of his (and my) pet peeves.
And recently the American Heart Association (AHA) came out with cholesterol guidelines that will lead to a huge increase in prescribing statins to people with a low risk of … Continue reading
I didn’t know this, but apparently in 2008 South Los Angeles enacted an ordinance to regulate or limit fast food sales. It was an attempt to lower obesity rates in some of the poorest and unhealthiest neighborhoods.
Now, seven years later, a study has been published that says the intervention didn’t work. It not only didn’t work, but the obesity rates were higher.
As for the health of the residents, according to the survey, obesity and being overweight increased in all areas from 2007 to 2012, and the increase was significantly greater in the regulated area. Consumption of
… Continue reading
I posted the other day about health care’s trend to “medicalize” or give everything under the sun a diagnosis.
And every diagnosis has to have a unique “code” that is found in the bible of diagnosis codes, the ICD 9 manual. Without an ICD 9 code, your doctor won’t get paid by your insurance company.
For example, the code for acute appendicitis is 540.
Well, later this year a new code book, the ICD 10, will be published, and the number of diagnoses will explode from 13,000 to 68,000.
In honor of today’s being April Fools’ Day, here are some … Continue reading