Which is cheapest?
As I did my grocery shopping the other day, I ran into a large cardboard brochure holder at the end of one aisle. Literally ran into it. Why do store managers place these displays where they block cart traffic? Oh, right, to get our attention.
Well, it worked. But the bright purple brochures would have attracted my eye anyway. They touted the recent release of Nexium (“The Purple Pill”®) as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication; that is, you no longer need a prescription to buy it.
The brochure tells us that Nexium is the “#1 doctor prescribed acid … Continue reading
This is a guest post by Kristen Reineke of CancerInsurance.com. I’ve posted previously about Alternatives to Obamacare, and critical illness plans are a relatively simple supplement to standard comprehensive health insurance plans. Cancer, specifically, is an expensive diagnosis, and my new ACA-compliant health plan not only has costly premiums, but a huge deductible (over $10,000). Most of the leading cancer hospitals in Seattle (University Medical Center, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance) are not in my network, which could also lead to higher out-of-pocket costs. Kristen explains how these critical illness or “lump-sum” policies … Continue reading
When is a hospital admission not an admission?
Answer: When, for Medicare patients, it’s coded as “observation” status only.
Before the days of discharging patients ASAP (or not admitting them at all), doctors used to frequently admit patients “for observation.” It signified that a patient was not critically ill, but his or her condition warranted careful watching, i.e. observation.
Unfortunately for the last decade or so, that term has come to have a very specific meaning with very specific financial consequences. But most patients still consider it a casual phrase that doesn’t mean much, and that ignorance can end up… Continue reading
Five years ago, I didn’t think our health care system could get any more complicated. Well, I was wrong.
I have watched it become increasingly tortuous as Obamacare’s rules, regulations and mandates have brought about a seemingly endless stream of unintended consequences.
The major benefit, I think, of Obamacare was to take away the pre-existing coverage clause in insurance policies. The idea was to provide health coverage for everybody, regardless of current health, and to make medical expenses more equitable; that is, some will pay more (the young and healthy) and some will pay less (the older, sicker … Continue reading
Another drug we can’t afford
A few weeks ago I posted about the recent slew of commercials to “increase public awareness” of the chronic sleep disorder Non-24.
As Non-24 (formerly known as circadian rhythm disorder) affects totally blind people and is rare otherwise, it wasn’t clear to me why we needed increased awareness until I realized a new drug was coming to market.
When I wrote that post, this new drug, Hetlioz (tasimelteon), was not yet available in pharmacies. I speculated that it would be costly, perhaps as much as $10 per tablet. If only!
A few days ago … Continue reading
We knew they were coming
Yesterday I looked on the website of my state’s (Washington) Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC). Health insurance companies are required to submit requests for 2015 premium increases in May. The OIC then posts these requests and the public is allowed to comment.
Insurers also have to file any benefit changes to existing plans, and details of any new plans they will offer in 2015. Actuarial data (what the company paid out in medical claims, administrative costs, enrollee risk profiles, profits, etc.) must be included to support the need for the rate hikes.
Rates are … Continue reading
Health tourism—traveling to another country for more affordable health care—has been an interest of mine for some time. I haven’t done it (yet), but many others have.
Last week I read an article in The Atlantic about the trend for Americans living near the Mexican border to seek dental care in Mexico. The story highlights one dentist, Dr. Jessica Nitardy, who lives in El Paso, TX, and commutes every day to her dental practice in Juarez, Mexico. Although married to an American, Dr. Nitardy was born and schooled in Mexico. Even so, the majority of her patients are, … Continue reading
A few months ago I posted about health-sharing ministries as an affordable alternative to Obamacare’s marketplace.
And recently I read that these groups are enjoying a surge in enrollment.
Since the launch of HealthCare.gov on Oct. 1, membership at each of the ministries has exploded, with nearly 30,000 new enrollees — more than the number of people who selected a plan through ObamaCare in 24 states.
Anyone participating in a health-sharing ministry is exempt from the mandate to buy ACA-compliant health insurance.
For more information about these ministries, read one of my posts on the topic:
… Continue reading
I read a really sad and infuriating article in the New York Times the other day: “The Policy Lapsed, but No One Knew”.
The “policy” referred to an elderly couple’s long-term care insurance, which they had purchased over a decade ago. Even at that time, in their late 50s and early 60s, they knew health care costs for the aged could be exorbitant, and there was no accurate way to predict either how old they would get, or how sick.
So they did what prudent people do—they bought long-term care insurance.
They even gave their son power of attorney … Continue reading
A friend emailed me a link to a recent article about a patient’s experience with the health care system in France.
The writer’s father, a French citizen living in New York, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and chose to forego treatment at one of America’s top-notch hospitals and return to his native country for chemotherapy.
The writer was understandably worried for her father: How could a public hospital in Paris possibly improve on Sloan Kettering’s cancer treatment?
Indeed. But what she discovered over the course of her father’s treatment is that the French have a pretty awesome … Continue reading