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Review Of 2011 Predictions In The World Of Health Care

How Did My 2011 Predictions Turn Out?

Pretty well, actually.

As predicted last December, there was no big change to health care reform, doctors still didn’t have enough time with their patients, Microsoft (disclosure: Microsoft is a Best Doctors client) made moves to create a “Windows” for electronic health records, and “ACO” became the hot buzzword in health care.  Some state governments started major redesigns of their benefits programs, saving money in the same ways private sector employers do.  Meanwhile, more than ever, private sector employers are penalizing employees who don’t take care of themselves.

Misdiagnosis finally started to be recognized as a public health problem.  At Best Doctors we got a great deal of press coverage in 2011 on this (for a few examples, go here, here, here, here and here).  I will sneak in a 2012 prediction and tell you that you will hear a lot more about this this year, and not just from us.

What did I get wrong? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

High Deductible Health Insurance Plans Incentivize Patients To Skip Screening Tests

Almost half of health plans in the US have deductibles of at least $1,000 according to a new study.  It’s called “cost shifting” and it’s a big part of the future of American health care.

There are two major reasons why employers are doing this.

First, higher deductible plans are cheaper, since there is less risk to insure.  Think of your car insurance – why would you make a claim for a ding on your door when it’s cheaper for you to just pay to have it fixed (or fix it yourself)?  The higher the deductible, the lower the premium, even if it means more out-of-pocket cost for you for the small stuff.

Along these same lines is the second reason.  If employees spend more of their own money on health care, maybe they’ll be smarter about how they spend it.

It sounds good – but does it work?

Yes.  And No. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

11 Healthcare Predictions For 2011

Here are 11 things that are absolutely going to happen* in 2011 (they’re in no particular order….or are they?):

1.  There will be no big compromise between President Obama and the Republicans on healthcare reform. Why? Because the law is such a massive collection of, well, stuff, that it is pretty much impossible to find pieces of it that you could cut a deal on, even if you wanted to. And no, the federal district court decision on the individual mandate doesn’t change my mind…and in fact may breathe new life into other parts of the law). State governments, insurance companies, and private businesses have made all kinds of important and hard to reverse choices based on the law as is. There’s not much of an appetite outside of people trying to score political points for making big changes.

2. No major employer will drop their health benefits. No major employer is going to outsource their healthcare benefits to the government any time soon. Employers — particularly the big self-insured employers that pay for healthcare costs as a bottom-line expense — see their benefits as an integral part of their business and competitive strategies. As Congress looks at this issue more closely, they will learn this.

3. Time that doctors spend with patients will be less in 2011 than earlier years. It’s a long-term trend, and the factors that create this problem aren’t getting better. The latest government data show that the average doctor visit features face to face time with the patient of 15 minutes or less. With an aging population, increasing numbers of people getting health insurance, and no influx of new doctors, this problem will keep getting worse. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

When Individuals Are In Control Of Their Health Care

I’m speaking [today] at the 23rd Annual Benefits Forum and Expo. This is one of the premier events in the health care benefits industry, and it’s a thrill for me to be the opening speaker on the “Health Care” track.

I’m presenting along with Charlie Salter, the VP of Benefits of ConAgra, one of our customers at Best Doctors. The talk Charlie and I will give is called “Real Results: When Individuals are in Control of their Health Care.”

As regular readers know, good things happen when people are in control of their care. They have a chance to make sure they’re not one of the 20 percent of people that end up with an incorrect diagnosis, or the more than 60 percent of people that end up with the wrong treatment. It’s the single most powerful thing you can do to make sure your health care experience is as good as it can possibly be. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Healthcare Road Rage

Road and construction projects have stopped all over town, thanks to concerns about future healthcare benefits. From

Construction companies and labor unions are divided over healthcare packages. The unions seek a 15 percent annual benefits increase over three years, while contractors have countered with a 1 percent annual increase.

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

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