Our ailing economy has boosted the number of people who are unemployed, without health insurance or with minimal coverage. The popularity of high deductible health plans is soaring as employers and individuals look for affordable insurance. Twenty-nine percent of bankruptcies are said to be caused by medical bills. Many of us now choose health care services and providers carefully, trying to stay within tight budgets.
The American people, long protected from the price of health care by insurance, are now forced to act as consumers. This situation is a free marketer’s dream. According to this model, we will rationally calculate the price/quality trade-offs of each doctor visit, procedure, test and drug. We will stop overusing services. We will demand better care. And the result will be reduced health care costs for the nation while the quality of care and the health of individuals will remain the same, if not improve.
There’s nothing like a good theory.
But the theory can only be tested if a) It’s easy to find publicly reported, relevant quality information about the services we need, matched with what we would pay out of pocket; and b) We use that information as the basis of our health care decisions. Neither of these conditions can be met today.
A new Cochrane review Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*
Heart attack mortality fell by nearly a half a percent last year at 4,500 hospitals that treat Medicare patients. And, facilities with the lowest and highest death rates saw similar declines, according to a new hospital report card by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Heart attack mortality fell from a national average of 16.6 percent last year to 16.2 percent, with a range among all facilities from 14.5 percent to 17.9 percent. CMS released the data as part of its hospital report card effort to spur better quality and outcomes through public reporting of recommended treatments. The agency added heart attack and heart failure mortality to the report card three years ago.
At issue now is what’s driving the figures: public reporting of hospital data driving improvement, or faster door-to-balloon-treatment times. Areas that do need to improve include lowering readmissions and getting people to the hospital faster when they have a heart attack. (USA Today)
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*
As a practicing family doctor, it’s easy for me to figure out how to choose a great doctor. Let me tell you the secrets in finding the best one for you and what I tell my family and friends. Look for the following:
— Board certification
— Report card on quality
— Licensing/public reporting
As a doctor, I know many doctors who have great bedside manner but aren’t particularly reliable in giving the right medical care you deserve, and these traits separate the so-so doctors from the truly excellent ones. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*