How do companies curb health care costs?
Do healthier employees lead to increased productivity? Several progressive companies believe so and have committed to providing employees with programs to help engage them in a healthier lifestyle.
As part of the incentives to lead a healthier lifestyle some employers have instituted a penalty and reward system tied to the companies’ benefits. For example, smokers may incur a significant surcharge to the cost of their health insurance plan while nonsmokers could see a reduction in cost.
According to an article in The New York Times, a growing numbers of companies including Home Depot, PepsiCo, Safeway, Lowe’s and General Mills are seeking higher premiums from some workers who smoke, similar to Wal-Mart’s addition of a $2,000-a-year surcharge for some smokers.
Escalating health care costs Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Health in 30*
Patients are first. Patients are the reason for the existence of the healthcare system. Physicians are second. They are trained to understand the pathophysiology of illness and to treat patients for their disease. Everyone else is a secondary stakeholder (provider).
All the stakeholders create waste in the healthcare system. If an accurate analysis were performed, most of the waste and the resulting profits would be attributed to the secondary stakeholders. Patient and physicians drive this waste and profits into the hands of the secondary stakeholders. Neither patients nor physicians are aware of driving the waste and profit into these stakeholders’ coffers.
The patient-physician relationship should be a one on one transaction. Patients and physicians are frustrated and many have accepted the disappearance of this human-to-human interaction.
Healthcare insurance companies and hospital systems think they own the patients and the physicians. This will turnout to be a fatal misperception.
To many observers of the healthcare system Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*
I’ve been traveling in Europe, including giving a talk at the Salzburg Global Seminar on involving and informing patients in healthcare decisions. In that presentation, I talked about promotion of a newer form of cancer radiation therapy called intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
So I want to point out that while I’ve been away the Wall Street Journal published an important piece on this very topic under the headline “A Device to Kill Cancer, Lift Revenue.” An excerpt:
Roughly one in three Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with prostate cancer today gets a sophisticated form of radiation therapy called IMRT. Eight years ago, virtually no patients received the treatment.
The story behind the sharp rise in the use of IMRT—which stands for intensity-modulated radiation therapy—is about more than just the rapid adoption of a new medical technology. It’s also about financial incentives.
Taking advantage of an exemption in a federal law governing patient referrals, groups of urologists across the country have teamed up with radiation oncologists to capture the lucrative reimbursements IMRT commands from Medicare.
*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*
The New York Times reported recently on efforts by providers and payers to increase patient medication adherence through the use financial incentives paid to patients. The article cited the use of small financial payments (<$100), awarded via lotteries, to patients that take Warfarin –- an anti-blood clotting medication.
There is certainly nothing wrong with financial incentives. Incentives have been proven successful in changing selected provider (quality and safety improvement) and patient behavior (stop smoking, weight loss and taking health risk surveys). But paying patients to take their medication is different. Actually, the evidence suggests that it is a just plain stupid idea for a whole lot of reasons. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Mind The Gap*
A recent study suggests that doctors may put off holding end of life care discussions that involve subjects like advance directives, hospice or site of death.
Recommendations suggest that physicians hold these conversations when patients have about a year to live, but the data show those guidelines aren’t being followed.
Why? Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*