An uninsured Seattle man has put out an ad offering to trade his 2006 Mustang GT for brain surgery. He provides an image from a MRI of his brain even. The poster doesn’t describe what symptoms he attributes to his arachnoid cyst but the relationship between arachnoid cysts and late symptoms is often difficult to establish.
Arachnoid cysts have been associated with headaches, nausea, seizures, vertigo and even in anecdotal cases with psychiatric symptoms or the onset of dementia. But the relationship is often hard to establish. Up to a third of people with chronic headaches have some sort of abnormality on there MRI, including arachnoid cysts. Relating the findings and the symptoms is often difficult; sometimes you have a finding on an MRI or a CT scan but it is a red herring as far as the symptoms are concerned.
Arachnoid cysts are collections of cerebrospinal fluid trapped between the brain and spinal cord and the arachnoid membrane. They’re primarily a congenital entity but can be associated with trauma, infection or be iatrogenic following surgery. The vast majority of cysts are discovered incidentally and associated with no major symptoms. While even asymptomatic cysts can progress to cause symptoms and they can be associated with post traumatic, or even spontaneous, hemorrhage the risk of such is low enough that in small asymptomatic cysts it is often more than reasonable to do nothing.
I’m a little bit dubious of the poster as he relates that he’s been thinking of trying to get to the cyst himself. However, if it’s an honest post I think the poster really needs to sit down with a neurosurgeon in consultation and go over the above in detail and discuss the best course of action.
I suppose health insurance is coming in 2014.
Colin Son, MD is a neurosurgical resident in Texas. He blogs regularly at Residency Notes, where this post originally appeared.
Filed Under: THCB, The Insider's Guide To Health Care
Tagged: Affordable Care Act, Brain Injury, Colin Son, Costs, Craigslist, Reform
May 1, 2013
Following the Obama administration’s announcement about the suspension of enrollment in a high-risk health insurance program known as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, a flurry of commentary began on what the move means for the Affordable Care Act.
Some observers said that the program’s underwhelming enrollment numbers and high costs foreshadow inevitable problems with the ACA’s health insurance exchanges, while others drew a clear division between a program intended to insure only those with pre-existing health conditions and state marketplaces designed to spread risk by insuring both those who are sick and those in good health.
Two months after the halted enrollment, the debate continues.
Closing the Pools
The high-risk pools were designed to help sick U.S. residents gain coverage ahead of January 2014, when the ACA’s ban on denying individuals coverage because of pre-existing conditions will take effect.
In early February, the administration announced several cost-saving reforms intended to prevent the $5 billion program from running out of money. However, on Feb. 15, HHS officials announced that enrollment in the high-risk pools would end because of rising costs and limited funding.
Continue reading “Is the Suspension of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan a Preview of Obamacare’s Failure?”
Filed Under: Health Plans, THCB, The Insider's Guide To Health Care
Tagged: Affordable Care Act, Health Plans, HHS, high-risk pools, Insurance Exchanges, Matthew Wayt, Obamacare, PCIP, Reform
Apr 26, 2013
In 2006, Governor Mitt Romney signed Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006 entitled “An Act Providing Access to Affordable, Quality, Accountable Health Care.” It has been described by many names, including Massachusetts Healthcare Reform (MHR), Romneycare, or simply, as the template for the Affordable Care Act. The goal of the act was straightforward: to ensure near-universal access to health insurance for citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The bill quickly led to insurance expansion: by 2010, 94.2% of adults under 65 had health insurance, an 8 percent increase over the 86.6% in 2006. By all accounts, the goals of insurance expansion were met.
But the bill has not been without controversy. There have been two main concerns: first, that the bill did too little to control rising healthcare costs. The cost crisis led to the 2012 bill that many refer to as “Mass Health Reform 2.0” – formally called Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012. Its focus is to curtail healthcare spending, and while reasonable people have reasons for skepticism about the likelihood of success, that’s a topic for another day.
Continue reading “Did Massachusetts Health Care Reform Hurt Access To Care For the Previously Insured?”
Filed Under: OP-ED
Tagged: Affordable Care Act, Ashish Jha, Florida, Health Insurance Exchanges, hospitalization, Massachusetts, Medicare, Reform, Romneycare, Texas
Mar 5, 2013
After a seemingly endless presidential campaign, we’re just days away from the Nov. 6 election. And to be sure, health care issues remain at the forefront.
Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have tried to claim the high ground as Medicare’s number one defender. In his latest column, the New York Times’ Paul Krugman argues that next week’s vote “is, to an important degree, really about Medicaid.” And writing on Bloomberg View, columnist Ezra Klein takes an even broader stance, concluding that “this election is all about health care.”
But health care isn’t all about the election, despite politics’ seeming ability to draw every sector into its gravitational pull.
In fact, many of the most significant stories in health care from the past two months haven’t come from the campaign trail — where candidates have mostly rehashed their existing policies — but from the private sector, as employers and providers have made aggressive, and sometimes unexpected, deals and changes. Reforms that will continue regardless of who’s sitting in the Oval Office next year.
Here are some of those stories.
Top Employers Move to Defined Contribution
As previously discussed in “Road to Reform,” Sears Holdings and Darden Restaurants have made plans to shift away from their current “defined benefits” — where they choose a set of health insurance benefits on behalf of their workers — and roll out “defined contribution” instead.
Under that model, firms pay a fixed amount for employees’ health benefits and allow workers to choose their coverage from an online marketplace, such as the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges or the emerging number of privately run exchanges.
In theory, the model would slow employers’ health costs while allowing employees to have more control over their own health care spending. And Sears and Darden’s announcements aren’t wholly unexpected, given that many employers have signaled their interest in making a similar shift.
But given the long-entrenched employer-sponsored health coverage model, some employers needed to be the first movers before the rest would be ready to follow.
Will they? That will be a major industry issue to watch across the next months.
Continue reading “How Health Care Changed While You Were Watching the Election”
Filed Under: THCB, The Business of Health Care
Tagged: 2012 Election, Advisory Board Company, Alternative Quality Contract, Barack Obama, BCBS of Massachusetts, bundled payments, California HealthCare Foundation, California Healthline, Chas Roades, Dan Diamond, Darden Restaurants, employee benefits, Employers, Ezra Klein, Massachusetts, Medicare, Mitt Romney, Partners Healthcare, Paul Krugman, PPACA, Reform, Sears Holdings, Wal Mart
Nov 1, 2012
While concepts for health care reform volley back and forth in Washington, D.C., and around the nation, Johns Hopkins has quietly but meaningfully injected itself into the debate.
Johns Hopkins Medicine has been working with a group of 12 academic medical centers to explain the key role of these institutions in the delivery of health care to millions of Americans.
The group —which includes Emory University, Mount Sinai Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center, the University of Pennsylvania and others—is focusing on a number of issues, including a proposal to create “Health Care Innovation Zones” that would offer support for providers working with stakeholders in their regions to redesign a more patient-centered delivery of health care.
Continue reading “Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Health Care Debate”
Filed Under: Uncategorized
Tagged: After Reform, Reform
Mar 1, 2010
There’s an adage that, except for their tax revenue, American business is something the left loves to hate. And who can blame them, what with executive compensation, minimum wage and overseas job outsourcing powering the left wing’s ascent faster than corporate gunships in a greedy search of Avatar movie unobtainium? Being the principal source of health insurance for their employees hasn’t helped the liberals’ view of American business either, not only because it gets in the way of their cherished public option, but because their constituents’ benefits have been squeezed by the specter of an unholy alliance with managed care over caps, deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays.
So when it came out that the Senate’s proposed health reform legislation would increase employers’ and insurers’ ability to incentivize employees’ participation in worksite-based health promotion activities, progressives zeroed on it like Air Force One on a Massachusetts political rescue mission. Believing that any use of any financial rewards is just plain wrong, opponents have cast incentives as penalties on those who don’t participate in workplace wellness programs – a sneaky, indirect and backdoor way of making the sicker pay more for their health insurance.
Continue reading “An Unhealthy Debate Around Wellness”
Filed Under: Uncategorized
Tagged: Insurers, Jaan Sidorov, Reform, Wellness, Workforce Initiatives
Feb 1, 2010
The shocking surrender of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat to an insurgent Republican state legislator, Scott Brown, has imperiled President Obama’s health reform initiative. The Massachusetts “massacre” has unleashed a tidal wave of second guessing from Democratic pundits. Obama, the left argues angrily, got what he deserved for trying to find a bipartisan solution to health reform, for abandoning the beloved “public option” and snuggling up to the corporations they wanted to punish. If only he’d remained pure to their ideals, Martha Coakley would be a Senator and he’d have a bill on his desk by the end of the week. General Custer could not have gotten worse advice.
It’s possible that the loss of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat might end up saving both health reform and the Obama Presidency. The President seems to understand what happened in Massachusetts better than his more ideological brethren. Disarmingly, he argued the day after Brown’s victory that it was produced by the same popular anger as his own election, though it’s worth noting an important qualitative difference. The 2008 election coincided with a full blown market panic, which the President’s calm and policies helped quell; What he is now facing is much closer to voter despair, as the domestic economy digests a huge overhang of debt, and unemployment lingers above the toxic 10% level.
Continue reading “Panicky People Make Bad Decisions : Salvaging Health Reform after Scott Brown”
Filed Under: Uncategorized
Tagged: Democrats, Jeff Goldsmith, Massachusetts, Policy/Politics, Reform, Scott Brown, The States
Jan 24, 2010
One in six Americans at some point during this year will go without health insurance. Most of them at any given point in time do not need it.
One in ten working Americans are without gainful employment right now. Every one of them wants a job . . . right now.
That as much as anything explains Tuesday’s Senate special election result in Massachusetts, the only state in the union that has a health insurance plan similar to ones passed in the House and Senate last year. Were voters there rejecting their own system? Not according to every poll that asks the question. The Bay State has the lowest uninsured rate in the nation; local residents have learned to participate in the insurance exchange set up under its plan (passed under a Republican governor); and people seem to like it.
So any commentary that seeks to make health care reform the scapegoat for voters choosing Scott Brown, an obscure state senator, over an aloof attorney general Martha Coakley, is off the mark.
Massachusetts hasn’t solved its health care problem. Its costs are still rising at an unsustainable pace, suggesting the reforms in the national legislation won’t solve that problem either.
Continue reading “After Reform”
Filed Under: Merrill Goozner
Tagged: Featured, Massachusetts, Reform, Scott Brown, The States
Jan 22, 2010
Not one to comment on broader political issues but just can’t help myself today after awakening to the news that Kennedy’s Senate seat has gone to the Republican upstart Scott Brown. Whatever happened to carrying on Kennedy’s legacy for healthcare reform, something Martha Coakley vowed to support and Brown vowed to defeat? Has Massachusetts really gone Red (or just a lighter shade of Blue)?
Reflecting on my own thoughts and vote for Martha, have come up with the following missteps of Martha’s that ultimately led to her losing what was considered a sure thing, Kennedy’s seat in Congress.
1) Assuming the cat is in the bag. Skating to an overwhelming victory in the Democratic primary, Martha naturally assumed that Kennedy’s seat was her’s for the taking. Sure, the Republicans would put someone on their ticket, a sacrificial lamb, but a serious contender, no. Surprise, surprise. Yes, the Republicans put forward a relatively unknown State Senator from a small community, but this unknown Scott Brown proved to be an extremely engaging and aggressive politician. By the time Martha’s political machine realized that they had a serious challenger on their hands, it was too late, his momentum too great.
Continue reading “Martha’s Mistakes”
Filed Under: Uncategorized
Tagged: Democratic Party, Massachusetts, Policy/Politics, Reform, Scott Brown, The States
Jan 21, 2010
A week ago, before the Massachusetts special election, health reformers felt that their house was almost finished. The edifice of health reform had been built painstakingly using blueprints designed by policy and political experts during the past 10 years. It wasn’t a perfect building — like many construction projects, there were concerns that it would cost too much and wouldn’t be aesthetically pleasing — but most agreed that it would provide shelter for those who had been excluded from health coverage: the uninsured and the medically uninsurable. The imperfections could be fixed later. As many said, this would be the foundation and framework on which an even better health system for the U.S. could be built. And the wolves who had ruthlessly blown down health reform houses in the 1990s and before had been kept at bay.
As the reformers stood on the top floor last week, deciding on the final touch-ups and planning for the housewarming, someone pulled the rug out from under them. The upset election of Scott Brown to fill the late Sen. Kennedy’s seat changed the political calculus. It would not be possible for the Senate to pass a bill including the final modifications, since a unified Republican minority of 41 would be able to block consideration of the bill. It turned out that under the rug was a hole in the floor, and suddenly the reformers were on the next floor down. The reformers might have to leave the top floor unfinished (the modifications that were needed to get House approval), but they could still have a pretty solid building if they could reach agreement.
Continue reading “House of Straw or House of Bricks?”
Filed Under: OP-ED
Tagged: Bill Kramer, Democrats, Policy/Politics, Reform
Jan 20, 2010