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The Health Insurance Industry’s Unnecessary Expenses

I have described how the healthcare insurance industry loads its expenses into direct patient care expenses to increase their profits.

The Medical-Loss Ratio calculation is not reported by the traditional media. The healthcare insurance industry spends less healthcare dollars on direct patient care after it is permitted by federal and local agencies to load its expenses into the direct patient care column.

Simply put, the healthcare insurance industry cooks the books to increase its net profit.

Another way to increase profits is to shortchange physicians on medical claims. In fact, 20% of medical claims payments are inaccurate according to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) fourth annual National Health Insurer Report Card. Claims-processing errors by health insurance companies waste billions of dollars and frustrate patients and physicians.

This is one of the reasons the RAND report about physicians controlling waste is so absurd to me. The healthcare insurance industry creates waste in order to increase net profit. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

Health Care Attorney Discusses The Use Of Disclaimers On Facebook Pages

This is the third part of a three part post addressing the legal concerns of social networking in the health care arena.

In part one, legal expert David Harlow, Esq., Health Care Attorney and Consultant at The Harlow Group, LLC in Boston, answered questions regarding “The Legal Implications for Doctors, Nurses and Hospitals Engaging in Social Media?”

In part two, Mr. Harlow answered questions related to the Pharma industry;  “Legal Concerns: What Steps can Pharma Take to Engage in Social Media?”

The third part addresses a question from a follower on Facebook about the use of disclaimers.

Q:  Barbara: A Healthin30 reader on Facebook writes:  “I’m looking for a good disclaimer to put on a couple of medical practices’ Facebook pages. The AMA social media guidelines aren’t helpful. Do you have a good boilerplate you recommend? Thanks in advance for your help!”  David, can you offer a couple suggestions?

A:  David: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Health in 30*

Supreme Court: Data Mining OK, Even When Physician Privacy Is Compromised

The Supreme Court has sided with Big Pharma in their challenge to the Vermont Law limiting the pharmaceutical Industry’s access to physician prescribing information.

The nation’s high court handed down a verdict Thursday in the Sorrell v. IMS Health case, striking down by a 6-3 vote a 2007 Vermont law that that bans the practice of data mining — the sale and use of prescriber-identifiable information for marketing or promoting a drug, including drug detailing — unless a physician specifically gives his or her permission to use the information.

Apparently, Big Pharma’s right to “free speech” trumps my right to privacy. How getting access to my prescribing information has anything to do with free speech is beyond me.  In the twisted logic of the pro-business, anti-citizen Supreme Court –

Speech in aid of pharmaceutical marketing… is a form of expression protected by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

Primary Care Is Undervalued: What Should Be Done?

An article by Brian Klepper and Paul Fischer at Health Affairs has me all fired up. Finally these two health experts are calling it like it is. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and EverythingHealth have written before about the way primary care is undervalued and underpayed in this country and how it is harming the health and economics of the United States.

A secretive, specialist-dominated panel within the American Medical Association called the RUC has been valuing medical services for decades. They divvy up billions of Medicare and Medicaid dollars and all insurance payers base their reimbursement on these values also. The result has been gross overpayment of procedures and medical specialists and underpayment of doctors who practice primary care in internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics). These payment inequities have led us to a shortage of these doctors and medical costs skyrocket as a result. As Uwe E. Reinhardt says, “Surely there is something absurd when a nation pays a primary care physician poorly relative to other specialists and then wrings its hands over a shortage of primary care physicians.”

Klepper, Fischer and author Kathleen Behan make a bold suggestion. Let’s quit complaining about the RUC and their flawed methodologies. Let’s quit admiring the problem of financial conflicts of interest and the primary care labor shortage. It’s time for the primary care specialty societies, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Who Is Responsible For The Hospital Bills Of Prisoners?

Are government entities required to pay the hospital bills of incarcerated prisoners?  This is a scenario that happens quite often.  Jailed patients are admitted onto the hospitalist service through the ER for anything from patients faking seizures in the ER to chest pain to drug overdoses.  When patients are under the custody of the city, state or federal system, those entities are required to pay for necessary acute health care services.  I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with a prisoner’s constitutional right.  You lose your right to vote, but not to get a liver transplant.
So what happens? Jailed patients get admitted and guards, sometimes, one, two or three at a time, are required to be at the patient’s bedside 24 hours a day.  If the patient needs to transport to the radiology department, sometimes this must be arranged with the guards ahead of time to allow extra staffing for the transport.
As you can tell, having a jailed patient is expensive, not only for the cost of the incurred hospital expenses but also the extra labor costs of having additional guards in the patient’s room 24 hours a day.  So what’s a city to do? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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