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Latest Posts

Medicare Only Covers Some Medications During A Hospital Stay

One of the worst parts of my job over the years has been to tell patients I was going to bring them into the hospital as an observation status because they did not have any criteria for full inpatient status.  There is a huge difference in how CMS pays for hospital care (excluding critical access hospitals) between inpatient versus observation.

Observation is considered outpatient.  Medicare will pay for observation hospital services for up to 48 hours to allow physicians a chance to observe the patient and determine if they need to have an inpatient hospital admission.  Observation was never intended to be used as a holding pit  to help social workers arrange for a nursing home transfer during normal business working hours because it can’t be arranged, on either end, at 10 pm on a Friday night.
What used to be a moral family obligation to care for loved ones too weak to care for themselves has now been relinquished to the role of hospitals and hospitalists.  And we all pay for it.  Families have abandoned their loved ones for good.  It’s really quite sad.  Bringing patients into the hospital for the purpose of arranging a nursing home transfer is, in my opinion, a form of Medicare fraud, since these patients have no intention of being fully admitted.

But it’s paid for and will always be paid for, except when Read more »

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

Even With Insurance, Childbirth Is An Expensive Undertaking

Childbirth hospital costs these days aren’t cheap. Some studies suggest the cost of raising a child exceeds $200,000, not including education expenses.   Most insurance companies charge women of childbearing age more for their insurance because the actuarial tables say so.  Mrs  Happy and I now have a 3 month old Zachary in our wings.  He is a cute little peanut.  His two brothers, Marty and Cooper adore him.

Forty-two days after his April 21st, 2011 delivery, we still had not received our explanation of benefits from Blue Cross Blue Shield for the midwife charge.  I had previously received a statement from them saying the charge was under review.  Perhaps they believed that delivering Zachary was not medically necessary.  I can’t explain it.

When I called to ask them why this charge had not been approved,  they said they could not give me a reason why my explanation of benefits statement had not been finalized after 42 days.  I pressed for more information, but to no avail. I was given no reason other than to say that they had a lot of claims to review.   That’s not an acceptable reason to delay a payment of a claim. 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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