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Posts Tagged ‘health care cost’

States across the country are facing budget crises.  With health care spending being such a large part of state budgets, cuts to health care expenditures are surely coming.  Arizona has proposed a number of measures to cut costs.  One is a fee charged to Medicaid-enrollees who engage in unhealthy activity.    Another is to cut  payments for organ transplantation.  In Physician Practice magazine, editor Bob Keaveney decried the cuts.

Keaveney makes good points about how so called “death panels” in the health care legislation were bogus but that real death panels are happening when states decide not to cover organ transplants. But can we continue to pay for everything?  Probably not.  At some point, we have to recognize that paying for those transplants comes at the cost of not paying for other things we’d like to have.  The people who have to make these choices are not in an enviable position.

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The FDA approved a new drug, ipilimumab, for patients with metastatic melanoma.  Advanced melanoma is a terrible condition for which there is little in the way of effective treatment.  Ipilimumab clearly improves outcomes of this horrible disease with improvement in median survival from 6 months to 10 in patients with advanced melanomas.

While the 6 month to 10 month median improvement is nothing to sneeze at, it isn’t a very high cure rate.  And the cost of the drug: over $100,000 for a course of treatment.  Is it worth it?

If I had advanced melanoma and a 3rd party way paying the cost of my medical care, I would say it was worth it.  If I were paying myself?  I’m not so sure.  The high, high cost for drugs that provide marginal benefits is illustrative of the main problem with have with U.S. health care.  Health care reform efforts that don’t address this central problem are going to solve our crisis.  To learn more, visit http://www.drscore.com/downloads/Health_Care_Primer.pdf.

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From Massachusetts’ plans to revamp medical spending to the Republican controlled U.S. House plans to change Medicare spending, there are efforts to move from a health care system that pays for services to one that pays for quality services.  To learn more about practical ways to improve health care delivery by changing incentives, listen to Dr. Mark Fendrick, Co-Director of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design, talk about how value-based insurance can incentivize patients to seek out better health care at lower cost on Getting Better Health Care.

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More doctors are choosing to practice “concierge medicine”.  What is concierge medicine?  Concierge doctors care for a limited number of patients who agree to pay an annual fee in return for better access to the physician and more time at doctor visits.  On the one hand, this is great for the patients who can afford it and want better service; on the other hand, there is concern this will take away from patients who can’t afford better service.

For now, concierge medicine isn’t very common, though it is growing fast.  As insurers pay doctors less, more doctors may choose to offer concierge services to patients.  Whether this is good or bad depends on the eye of the beholder, but it is a natural and expected result of a medical care system that has a third party paying for care.

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There’s uniform agreement something needs to be done about the rising cost of U.S. health care. The issue has become an acute problem, even for military effectiveness. That’s right. American military leaders testified to Congress about how high health care costs are gobbling up the military budget and threatening military readiness. To learn more, listed to military budget expert Todd Harrison, Senior Fellow for Defense Budget Studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments on Getting Better Health Care.

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