Just yesterday I posted about the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the fine line they walk between providing evidence-based recommendations for screening tests and making medical specialist groups happy.
Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
The task force recently gave an “I” grade to vision screening in patients over 65. An I grade, or Insufficient evidence, means that the task force can’t definitively say that the benefits of vision screening in older adults outweigh the possible harms.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) doesn’t agree.
Specifically, the task force reviewed the evidence for primary care doctors screening for … Continue reading
Not in my humble opinion.
I just read about this idea proposed by health financing researchers out of MIT and Harvard: Financing health care with consumer loans.
They begin their article with what we all know—health care, specifically prescription drugs in this case, costs too much.
We propose a practical way to increase drug affordability through health care loans (HCLs)—the equivalent of mortgages for large health care expenses. HCLs allow patients in both multipayer and single-payer markets to access a broader set of therapeutics, including expensive short-duration treatments that are curative.
When they talk about “curative” drug treatments, they … Continue reading
One of the driving forces behind rising health care costs is the increasingly high cost of prescription drugs.
And because 60% of Americans take at least one prescription drug, that adds up to a lot of money.
Insurance companies are trying to rein in costs by having tiered copayments (higher for brand names) or limiting the selection of drugs on their formularies (the list of drugs your insurance will cover).
This post gives you some suggestions to save money, and some resources that might be helpful.
But first, ask yourself and your physician if a prescription drug is really … Continue reading
Last November, with much media coverage, several members of Congress announced the formation of The Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force, promising to “take action to combat the skyrocketing costs of pharmaceuticals.”
Finally! I thought.
Related post: Prices continue to increase for generics
But I haven’t heard much since then.
There was a little noise earlier this month when the House Oversight Committee (of which the task force is a subcommittee, I believe) attempted to grill the now infamous Martin Shkreli about why he thought it was okay to jack up the price of Daraprim from $13 a pill to … Continue reading
We’ve all heard the phrase “cancer kills.”
But guess what? So can the high cost of treatment.
I just read about a study that came out of the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center here in Seattle.
The results won’t surprise anyone familiar with how much cancer treatment costs (a lot!), but researchers found:
…cancer patients who go bankrupt are nearly 80 percent more likely to die than patients who don’t, and some cancers had significantly higher mortality rates. Prostate cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy were almost twice as likely to die; bankrupt colorectal cancer patients were 2.5 times more
… Continue reading
I read two articles yesterday that complemented each other:
In Kaiser Health News (KHN) Heavy Use Of CT Scans Raises Concerns About Patients’ Exposure To Radiation
And on KevinMD two radiologists posted The financial costs of treating CT-induced cancer
Each underscores the fact that CT scans are significantly overused in American healthcare.
Although CT scans are an essential diagnostic tool, the Food and Drug Administration reports that an estimated 30 to 50 percent of imaging tests are believed to be medically unnecessary.
Considering we spend tens of billions of dollars every year on diagnostic imaging, that’s a lot of wasted … Continue reading
Health insurance literacy is a term that has been used a lot in the media since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rolled out a few years ago.
It basically means how fully a person understands how his or her health insurance works, as well as the lexicon of insurance-speak: words and acronyms like coinsurance, copay, deductible, premium, subsidy, provider, allowed amount, out-of-pocket maximum, balance billing, HSA, FSA, HMO, PPO, EPO, PCP, and so on.
If only people understood their health insurance, the experts moan, they would make better health choices and protect themselves financially.
I’m sure that’s true, but … Continue reading
The overuse of antibiotics continues to be a big problem in this country, and do you know who doctors blame? The patients.
That’s right. Doctors know that antibiotics don’t work against the common viruses that cause colds, flu, coughs and sore throats, but many admit they prescribe them anyway when patients ask for them.
In a five or ten minute office visit, doctors don’t feel they have time to explain the difference between a virus and a bacteria, and how overuse of antibiotics causes the very real problem of antibiotic resistance. So they do what’s easiest, fastest, and results in … Continue reading
November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.
It’s hard to find anyone who isn’t aware of—and scared of—dementia**. Or who hasn’t had a family member or friend stricken by it.
Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease that damages not only the individual, but family and friends, as well, especially the primary care giver—most often the spouse.
Adding insult to injury is the incredible cost of getting help. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirms what many already know—Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia cost families way more than almost any other disease.
Why? Cancer is one of … Continue reading
It’s that time of year—open enrollment for health insurance.
If, like me, you buy an individual health plan for yourself or your family, and you have been informed by your insurance company that your current plan will no longer be available, you are once again shopping for a plan that meets both your needs and budget.
The new plan I’ve been offered has both a higher premium and a higher deductible, but as far as I can tell our provider network will remain the same. That’s important, since my husband has a doctor he really likes. I had to change … Continue reading
A few months ago I posted about CYA—Cover Your Ass—medicine being one reason why too many diagnostic tests are ordered and health care costs are high.
CYA medicine is when the doctor or doctors are pretty sure what your problem is, but they order extra scans and x-rays and blood tests anyway because “failure to diagnose” is one of the leading causes of medical malpractice suits. They aren’t going to take any chances, and who can blame them?
Related story from KevinMD: This is why doctors practice cover your ass medicine
Besides, they don’t pay your resulting medical bill, so … Continue reading
I was invited to share this very interesting infographic on the looming shortage of nurses in this country.
The last of the baby boomers will reach retirement age in 2029. Although baby boomers can expect to live well into their 80s and 90s thanks to healthier lifestyles and modern medicine, they won’t be without chronic health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and early dementia.
That will put a strain on the health care system, as there is already a growing shortage of doctors and nurses. And as more highly-trained nurses take on the role of primary … Continue reading
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I can’t let it pass without commenting on the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) recently updated screening mammogram guidelines.
Before, the ACS recommended annual mammograms starting at age 40.
Now they recommend annual mammograms for ages 45 to 54, with screening mammograms done every other year after age 55.
But, they add, women should still have the choice to start screening at age 40 and have yearly mammograms thereafter.
The confusion arises not only because the ACS is a bit wishy washy on its guidelines, but because the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists … Continue reading
I know so many people taking antidepressants. And they talk about it quite openly, with me and with each other.
“What are you taking? Zoloft? Oh, I tried that but didn’t like it. Celexa works better for me.”
I’m sure none of these people went to his or her (mostly her) doctor and got a prescription for no reason whatsoever. But it’s pretty hard to deny that antidepressant use in this country has skyrocketed over the last two decades, which begs the question: Is everyone really that depressed?
No. A recent study in The Journal of Clinical Psychology looked at … Continue reading
I couldn’t help but laugh when I ran across this video from Costs of Care: What if Your Hotel Bill Was Like a Hospital Bill?
I swear I recently had a very similar conversation with a health insurance company regarding the cost of a new wheelchair for my elderly aunt!
Although insurance covered the bulk of the cost (well over $5,000) my aunt still owed close to $2,000. The bill had a list of about 20 items related to the wheelchair, but neither side admitted to knowing anything about exactly what each charge was … Continue reading