Category: Health Tech

Regina Holliday: Fred’s life & death at 73 cents a page

If you ever wonder why the efforts to make it easier for patients and families to get information and be treated as equals in their care by the medical care system matter….

If you need convincing that the concept of participatory medicine is important enough for its own society, advocates & journal….

If you wonder whether it’s OK to wait to phase in the possibility of patients actually having rights to their own data….

Read Regina Holliday’s story about Fred’s illness and the way she and he were treated.

A little ain’t enough, or is it?

I've been so buried in the run up to Health 2.0 that I haven’t had a chance to add to the deluge of electrons about the bills in Congress, Obama’s speech, the several hundred amendments to Baucus’ bill in mark-up, etc, etc. And my colleagues on THCB and elsewhere are taking good care of you in the details.

But I thought that I’d quickly respond to today’s WaPo article in which Erza Klein connects two themes that matter, while leaving out two that matter more. The first of the two he identifies is that most Americans don’t see the cost of health care. If we made them all write a check for $13,000 a year, and they’d seen that number go from $8,000 a decade ago and realized that it will be $25,000 in another decade, then the cost problem would be much more real. It would also get associated with the access problem as people realize that as the cost goes up, they (and their employer) can afford less. At the moment those problems are disconnected.

The ignorance here remains palpable. An HR exec I know did an exit
interview last week with an employee who was astonished to find out
that now he was on his own he could buy family health insurance in
California for under $500 a month which was less than his contribution
to the company plan. The concepts of risk pooling, risk selection,
varying benefit levels et al were clearly foreign to him. And of course
had his family had a pre-existing condition that policy might have cost $3,000 a month or more.

Continue reading…

Washington DC conference and party!

Wednesday morning I’ll be at the AHRQ annual conference in Rockville, Maryland. I’m moderating a panel looking at “Experiences in Patient-Centered Care: Improving Coordination and Communication among Patients and Providers”. Given this is an AHRQ meeting there’ll be actual research presented from:

    • Gail Brottman, Director of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis;
    • Jennifer Uhrig, Senior Health Communication Scientist at RTI;
    • Jim Tufano, Assistant Professor, University of Washington’s program in Biomedical & Health Informatics

Of course I’ll be dragging them down to my non-academic level pretty soon!

If you can’t join the academics in the morning, you may want to come by a drinks party hosted by my friend Maggi Cary in the evening. For that one you’ll have to email me to find out a few more details!

Economist: “A huge step forward. With one exception …”

A thumbs up:

“Cleverly borrowing good ideas from both sides of the party divide, his proposals at least look like a plausible basis for agreement. The plan obliges everyone to take out health insurance while creating a tapering subsidy for poorer families to help them afford it. It also requires insurance companies to end various nefarious practices, such as refusing to insure people with existing conditions or cancelling their coverage just when they need it most. To pay for these long-held liberal goals (the cost is put at $900 billion over ten years), the president has committed himself to several policies that Republicans, if only they could remove their partisan spectacles, should applaud.

Continue reading…

Public Still Backs the Public Plan

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that President Obama in his speech tonight will renew his support for including a public plan option in health care reform. He will also endorse an individual mandate, which could cost uncurrently uninsured families as much as $3,800 a year for health insurance.

Meanwhile, recent polling suggests the public is still in the president’s corner on the public plan. This from today’s New York Times:

After weeks filled with seemingly ominous portents for Mr. Obama’s ambitions, there is evidence that public opinion remains basically supportive of him. Despite intense controversy over the “public option,” a government-backed insurance plan that would compete with the private sector, a CBS poll at the end of August found that 60 percent of Americans still support the idea, down from 66 percent in July. And half the respondents to the poll said Mr. Obama had better ideas on health care than Republicans, down from 55 percent.

Interview: TR Reid on healthcare reform around the world

TR Reid is a former foreign correspondent with the Washington Post. He spent two years (partly funded by the Kaiser Family Foundation) looking at health care systems across the world and has been featured heavily in many media venues lately asking the simple question, if everywhere else can cover everyone at half the cost, how do they do it?  I had a great and not too long interview with him last week.

His book is called The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care and here's an interview he did as part of Frontline's Sick Around The World.

Funnily enough I'm posting this from Barcelona, Spain where hopefully I won't have to use the healthcare system unless I get carried away with the late night Sangria…

Expect to hear a whole lot about this…

Seniors care about death panels (apparently) but they usually really care about drug prices and costs. Part of the political rationale for the Republicans passing Medicare drug coverage in 2003 was to deny the Democrats the ability to bundle seniors’ desire for drug coverage with a universal coverage bill. So far the Republicans have to say the least muddied the waters as to whether universal coverage is a good thing for Medicare recipients—or at least the ones that don’t care about their kids or grand-kids.

But there’s one minor trick. The deal with big Pharma that’s part of HR 3200 cuts the donut hole in half. That’s real money for seniors.

And when the cuts to Medicare Advantage become apparent, that donut hole is going to affect many more seniors who now are getting good benefits from Medicare Advantage and are pretty unaware about what’s about to happen to those benefits, according to this recent Silverlink/Suffolk University poll. (Hint, many Advantage plans will get much less generous).

In that case, knowing that there is something in the bill that helps them might change some seniors’ minds. Right now the Silverlink/Suffolk poll does not make happy reading for the Administration:

The survey also polled Medicare recipients on healthcare reform. Despite high levels of satisfaction and relatively strong amounts of optimism, nearly half of Medicare recipients polled (48%) say they do not believe the Obama administration is looking out for their best interests when it comes to healthcare reform. The remaining are split, with 28% believing the administration is looking out for them and 24% unsure.


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