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Cost of Healthcare

Few Patients Treated for C. Diff Actually Have the Infection

A new study reported on by MedPage Today reveals that most patients treated with antibiotics for Clostridium Difficile (C. diff) did not actually have the infection, according to research presented at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

The study shows that lab results confirmed only 292 patients of the 1,971 patients treated for C. diff infection at a 240-bed hospital from February 2012 through November 2013 actually had the infection.

All the patients were inpatients for three days and treated with vancomycin or metronidazole in IV or oral form.

Fewer than one in six patients treated with powerful antibiotics for… Continue reading

Cost of Healthcare: Down or Up

Cost of healthcareThere is little doubt that we are all in for lots of surprises when it comes to healthcare. Guaranteed for a few years to come. Delivery and cost of care is everybody’s concern.

One of the health care overhaul’s most far-reaching provisions prohibits health plans from refusing to cover people who are sick or charging them higher premiums. Still, for people with serious medical conditions, the online health insurance marketplaces present new wrinkles that could have significant financial impact.

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Health Law Won’t Bring Prices Down For Patients

Healthcare costs discussions in WashingtonAt a Capitol Hill hearing in June 2013, journalist Steven Brill, who examined the issue of the high cost of health care in a much quoted March 2013 Time magazine article, told Senate Finance Committee members that President Barack Obama’s health care law will do very little to lower prices for consumers.

Joined by a panel of health policy experts at the hearing to explore ways to make health pricing more transparent, Brill said that while he views efforts to disseminate prices for health services to consumers favorably, he believes that increasing transparency has its limits. “[Transparency] starts the conversation… Continue reading

Medicare Spending Variations in States

Costs of care in statesThe idea that uneven Medicare health care spending around the country is due to wasteful practices and overtreatment—a concept that influenced the federal health law – took another hit in a study published in May 2013. The paper concludes that health differences around the country explain between 75 percent and 85 percent of the cost variations.

“People really are sicker in some parts of the country,” said Dr. Patrick Romano, one of the authors.

That’s a sour assessment for those hoping to wring large savings out of the health care system by making it more efficient. Some, such as… Continue reading

Benefits of Healthfairs are Questioned

Benefits of Healthfairs QuestionedHospitals hoping to attract patients and build their brands are teaming up with medical-screening companies to promote tests aimed at consumers worried about potentially deadly heart disease or strokes.

What their promotions don’t say is that an influential government panel recommends against using many of the tests on people without symptoms or risk factors. The panel says such screenings find too few problems to outweigh their drawbacks, which include false positive results, follow-up procedures and potentially unnecessary surgery. Other medical experts warn that the tests could needlessly raise health-care spending.

Inova Health System, one of the Washington, D.C., region’s largest… Continue reading

Value and Quality – Not Volume

Value-Quality in HealthcareFor decades, reformers of U.S. healthcare have sought to change how doctors and hospitals are paid to reward quality and efficiency – efforts that accelerated as a result of the Obama health care overhaul. But surprisingly little progress has been made to date, a consortium of large employers reported in March 2013.

Only 10.9 percent of health care spending last year by employer-sponsored plans was based on “value,” as opposed to “volume,” or the number of services performed, according to the study by Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR), a nonprofit group which represents 21 U.S. employers, including Verizon, Walmart,… Continue reading

Curbing Healthcare Costs is Doctors’ Job

Healthcare costs reductionThere is a lot of talk about healthcare cost reduction. In recent years, consumers have increasingly been encouraged by employers and insurers to help control rising health care costs by avoiding unnecessary tests, buying generic drugs and reducing visits to the emergency room, among other things. The hope is that a patient better educated and more engaged in health decisions will choose options that will promote better health and decrease costs.

Such “patient engagement” efforts assume that patients welcome the opportunity – or at least are willing – to get more involved in their own care. But as a study… Continue reading