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Latest Posts

The Rising Price Of Health Care: How Are People Dealing With The Expense?

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to speak as a patient about “consumers and cost information” while being videotaped for use in the annual meeting of the Aligning Forces for Quality initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

RWJF Video - This Costs How Much?

I admire the aims of this initiative – “to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide models for national reform” – and I think it has taught us some valuable lessons about what it takes to make even slight course corrections in the trajectory of the huge aircraft carrier that is health care.

Plus, I have listened to hundreds of people talk about their experiences with the rising price of health care: who thinks about it when and why, what individuals do to cut back on the expense, where they have been successful and where not. I’ve heard lots of stories, most of them involving Read more »

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

Can Price Transparency In The Insurance Industry Fix Healthcare?

Truthful information (Price Transparency) is a huge issue in the healthcare system. Hospital systems, physicians, drug companies, pharmacies, the healthcare insurance industry and the government hide behind the opacity of information.

There is a mutual distrust among stakeholders.

This mutual distrust must be overcome and price transparency achieved before any progress can occur in Repairing The Healthcare System.

In order to achieve Pareto efficiency in the healthcare system all the stakeholders must agree to price transparency. The advantage of Pareto efficiency is that Read more »

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

The “I Get It” Moment In Direct-Pay Primary Care

After seven years, my wife has finally stopped asking me for “The Power of DocTalker” story of the day. Now when I start with the details of the latest case report justifying the model, she stops me with “I get it, I get it! Go write the case report up and post it on your website for others to ‘get it,’ too.”

Case reports center on the mission of our medical practice, with points regarding care that include quality, accessibility, convenience, affordability, empowerment, trust, and price transparency. Because our patients pay us directly for the service and don’t necessarily expect any insurance “reimbursement,” we are a very unique practice. We adhere to the points in our mission and also outperform all our local competition — i.e. medical offices that accept insurance payment for service in order to survive as a business.

To the patient, our services cost a lot less than services available via the insurance model. About 40 percent of our clientele have no insurance, and the other 60 percent have insurance yet chose to use our services because they believe it’s worth paying directly in order to assume control of their care. (As a quick aside — my favorite clients in this group are health insurance executives and CEOs of large companies, who have the best health insurance in the country.) Read more »

Some Device Companies Would Rather Pay A Fee Than Engage In Price Transparency?

Here’s a dumb thought: If you want to save costs on medical devices to the federal government, require a tax fee concessions of $4 billion dollars from the medical device companies to fund a health care overhaul.

Now either that $4 billion will get added to the cost of devices (and the patient/insurer’s tab) or the device companies will decide that they must pay the fee to maintain their current pricing.

Government pressures hospitals and doctors by paying less, so hospitals keep the heat on medical device makers to lower costs so they can make their margins.

It all sounds good, right?

But according to one analyst, it seems device makers would rather pay the fee than make their prices transparent:

But the mechanism for how devices companies might pay matters more than what they pay, according to Morgan Stanley analyst David Lewis. “A ‘flat tax’ is preferable, in our view, to targeted industry fees as our larger concern is the creation of more infrastructure intended to catalyze pricing transparency,” he said.

And so, with the fee, the government pays itself while the medical device prices continue to remain inflated.

Why do the patients always seem to lose with these government-mandated scenarios?


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

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IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

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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

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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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