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Physician Salaries Comprise Less Than 5 Percent Of Healthcare Dollars Spent Annually

In reviewing Ezekiel Emanuel’s New York Times article I thought of an interesting question. In Dr. Emanuel’s view it is not worth having tort reform or healthcare care insurance reform. He claims these reforms are an insignificant burden to the cost of the healthcare system.

I have demonstrated that the evidence for tort reform and reform of the healthcare insurance industry proves him wrong.

The question then is where is the $2.5 trillion dollars the U.S. healthcare system spends going?

President Obama and Dr. Emanuel think it is going to physicians. President Obama’s idea to control healthcare costs is to reduce physician reimbursement.

Physicians have the weakest expression of its vested interests among all the stakeholders because of lack of effective leadership.

Simple arithmetic reveals that reducing physician reimbursement will yield an insignificant reduction in healthcare costs.

Never the less on January 1st Medicare is going to decrease physicians’ reimbursement by 27%. This decrease is the result of the application of the government’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR).

The Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) is a complicated and defective formula intended to contain the overall growth of Medicare spending for physicians’ services.  The intent was to keep physicians’ reimbursement in line with the nation’s ability to pay for that medical care.  The SGR formula uses the gross domestic product per capita in a complicated and inaccurate way. Read more »

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

Herman Cain – What Does He Have To Say About Healthcare? Abortion?

9.9.9 And Pizza-Themed Cupcakes

Today I attended a sold-out, National Press Club luncheon where Herman Cain was the featured speaker. When I signed up for the luncheon 4 weeks ago I had no idea that rumors of a sexual harassment “scandal” would suck the air out of the packed ballroom. While Cain convincingly diffused the scandal, I was there primarily to hear what he had to say about healthcare. In fact, I had submitted a question for his consideration a month in advance.

Interestingly, Mr. Cain stated that he decided to run for office the day that President Obama signed Obamacare into law. He said that he was so disappointed in Obama’s leadership on this policy in particular, that he was moved to step up to get America back on the right track. Cain argued that the American people didn’t want Obamacare, and the way that the president forced it upon them against their will was emblematic of his poor leadership skills. He went on to say that America’s healthcare system is the best in the world, and that he wouldn’t have beaten colon cancer without the great care he received. “We don’t have a healthcare quality problem, we have a healthcare cost problem” he quipped. He then suggested Read more »

Should Medicare Focus On Long-Term Care?

“HERE is the dirty little secret of health care in America for the elderly, the one group we all assume has universal coverage thanks to the 1965 Medicare law: what Medicare paid for then is no longer what recipients need or want today.”

So argues New York Times reporter Jane Gross in a provocative op-ed in last Sunday’s New York Times. She makes the case that too much of Medicare is going to medical treatments and drugs of little value to the elderly, and nearly nothing on long-term care, citing the case of her own family’s experience:

“In the case of my mother, who died at 88 in 2003, room and board in various assisted living communities, at $2,000 to $3,500 a month for seven years, was not paid for by Medicare. Yet neurosurgery, I later learned was not expected to be effective in her case, was fully reimbursed, along with two weeks of in-patient care. Her stay of two years at a nursing home, at $14,000 a month (yes, $14,000) was also not paid for by Medicare. Nor were Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

Insurance Company Begins New Ad Campaign In The Face Of Health Reform

Trudy Lieberman Cigna launched a $25 million “GO YOU” national branding campaign last week signaling that they are gearing up for tons of new customers as health reform rolls towards 2014.   That new business will come from the millions of Americans now uninsured who will start getting government subsidies as an encouragement to buy health insurance coverage.  If those uninsured folks don’t get coverage, they will have tax penalties to pay.

No insurer wants to be left behind in this expanding marketplace, so Cigna, by being first out of the gate, hopes to build brand awareness that will ring bells in 2014 when consumers must buy insurance.  It’s a smart strategy.  One industry consultant says “most insurers have not built enough brand equity with consumers.”

Cigna’s ad campaign positions health insurance as Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*

Why Is There So Much Less Paperwork In Canadian Health Care?

If you ask internists and their patients what makes them bonkers about the U.S. health care system, paperwork will top the list. Many will point to the federal government as the culprit, citing the many forms, RAC audits, pre-and post-payment reviews, documentation and coding guidelines, HIPAA privacy rules, quality measurement and reporting, Part D drug formularies, and HIT meaningful use requirements imposed by Medicare and other federal programs. (Some put more of the blame on private insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.)

But if paperwork is associated with the degree of government involvement in health care, then Canada–a single payer system–should have more of it than the United States, right? Think again.

A new Health Affairs survey of U.S. physicians and practice administrators found that U.S. physicians spend Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

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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