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Healthcare.gov: How To Compare And Customize Health Insurance

Microsoft’s Dr. Bill Crounse Talks with Todd Park, CTO of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on Health Tech Today

There’s a plethora of health information for consumers today. We are surrounded by smart meaningful material, but somehow it is easy to get lost in the maze of information. We get stuck navigating through it and we find it hard to obtain information that is right for us.

Even the most savvy health consumer may find it difficult to find information out about healthcare reform, insurance plans and the Affordable Care Act. But Dr. Bill Crounse, host of Health Tech Today talks with Todd Park, CTO of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about Healthcare.gov — a government website that makes it simple to find information on prevention, consumer rights, health insurance plans, and tools to assess the quality of care you’re getting.

Dr. Crounse calls Todd Park the “tech guru” behind the government website, charged with improving the nation’s health through the innovative use of technology and data. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Health in 30*

“Small Steps”: Get Healthy Compliments Of Uncle Sam

It makes my blogging life easier if I can just direct readers to a cool site, compliments of (drumroll…) — the U.S. government! The site, called Smallstep Adult and Teen, is filled with great healthy eating and exercise tips. Check it out and click around a bit. (Don’t ya’ just love the Internet?) From the site:

Today’s lifestyle doesn’t allow much room for health. And that’s where Small Steps comes in. We know that it’s impossible for many people to make dramatic lifestyle changes. Instead, we want to help you learn ways that you can change small things about your life and see big results.

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

The PPACA: Does It Pass The Playground Test?

Could understanding the tacit rules which govern play on a neighborhood playground help us explain why some aspects of implementing healthcare reform are unlikely to succeed? Recent news involving McDonald’s Corporation suggests so.

On the playground, there are some simple precepts — like the fact that older and stronger kids get to make up the game, and the rules. That’s understood and mostly okay. As if these leaders are considered modestly benevolent and the rules are workable, the game is good and all benefit. And all players on the playground know this basic tenet of fairness: That the rules of the game shouldn’t change in the midst of the competition, and, taking it one step further, if the rules have to be changed they weren’t very good in the first place. Soon, if those in power become too controlling, too conflicted, or too self-serving, kids stop showing up, and the games cease.

In enacting this, our government gave us a very complicated game, with oodles of rules. (For the record, the PPACA of 2010 is 475 pages and 393,000 words.) But then, on further consideration of the rules, important players (McDonald’s) decided that they could not play. They were pulling out of the game, and they had many friends (Home Depot, CVS, Staples, etc.) who may not have spoke outwardly, but surely felt the same way. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

New Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol Now In Effect

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services scrapped its old self-referral voluntary disclosure program in 2009 (it dated back to 1998, and was revisited in 2008), and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) mandated that it be replaced. Just like clockwork, on the deadline for its promulgation the OIG obliged, and the new Self-Referral Disclosure Protocol is now posted and effective.

The new protocol could be clearer and offer more comfort, but it doesn’t. Makes one pine for the old policy’s clarity: In the old days, voluntary disclosure bought you a discounted fine for Stark violations — not like the new protocol’s wishy-washy, maybe-we’ll-give-you-a-discount language. The new protocol also fails to help a provider seeking to disclose past wrongs voluntarily in dealing with the Federales on a number of fronts simultaneously (e.g., for false claims violations, anti-kickback violations, etc., all arising from the same set of facts). We can perhaps blame Congress for that failure, rather than the OIG — the OIG is just implementing the statute as written.

Keep your eyes peeled for some tinkering on this front as the OIG gains some experience working under the new regime.

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

Medical Insurance Pre-Authorization Services For Free?

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an advisory opinion at the end of last month okaying a hospital’s proposal to provide insurance pre-authorization services free of charge to patients and physicians. This is an issue that has long vexed folks in the imaging world.

Clearly, this is a free service provided to referral sources (to the extent they are obligated by contract with third-party payors to obtain the pre-authorization before referring a patient for an MRI, for example), so why is the OIG okay with it? In their opinion, the OIG blesses the arrangement for four reasons. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

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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