Health care costs are the biggest contributor to our long term deficits, and so this issue gets a ton of attention in Washington. President Obama has argued for years that simply bending the long term cost curve on health care will result in huge savings regarding government spending helping to reduce deficits. The trend may have already started.
Health care spending growth has famously slowed over the past five years, significantly enough that the Congressional Budget Office recently revised its projections of Medicare and Medicaid spending over the coming decade downward by hundreds of billions of dollars.
Now, research papers suggests the recent slowdown doesn’t just reflect temporary economic weakness, but also structural shifts in how health care is delivered and financed — possibly attributable to the Affordable Care Act — and thus might be a harbinger of a longer-term trend.
If they’re right, and the trend continues, it means workers can expect higher wages and the country’s projected medium term deficits are significantly overstated, which in turn suggests lawmakers’ continuing obsession with the current budget deficit, and deficits over the coming decade, are misguided.
One of the keys to Obamacare is to move our health care system away from fee for service care to health care delivery that takes a holistic approach where doctors and hospitals are paid for overall care and outcomes as opposed to more tests and procedures. It makes sense that this shift has started to decrease overall costs.
If you want to know one reason why our health care system is so screwed up, please read this article. It explains how hospitals often make more money when complications arise during surgery.
Patients who suffer complications after surgery are lucrative for hospitals, which get paid more when they treat infections and other problems, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today.
In 2010, an unnamed, nonprofit 12-hospital chain in the southern U.S. was paid an average of $49,400 per person for treating surgery patients who have complications — more than double the $18,900 paid for patients who underwent only the initial surgery, according to an analysis by researchers from Harvard Medical School and elsewhere.
Read the entire article for details on this problem. We need to alter these incentives and pay for health care that actually works. Incompetence and mistakes should not be rewarded.
Dr. Robert Lustig has a new book out called “Fat Chance” that addresses the huge problems caused by excessive consumption of sugar, which is a real problem in this country. Watch this video and you’ll realize that you need to be very cognizant of how much sugar you are consuming. This is particularly important if you’re a parent.
The biggest issue involves hidden sugar in processed foods, like salad dressing, hamburger buns, BBQ sauce etc. It’s a labeling issue and an issue about government subsidies for the sugar and corn industries.
The journal of Pediatrics has conducted a study which allays fears that being inoculated with the HPV vaccine would encourage sexual promiscuity among teenagers.
The human papilloma virus can lead to cervical cancer and the vaccine helps protect against transmission of the virus.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, with about 50% of sexually active men and women contracting it at some point during their lives. Early sexual behaviors and multiple sexual partners are risk factors for infection, but other studies have hinted that the vaccine may not encourage sexual activity; in one review of 1,398 girls ages 11 to 12, there was no indication that that girls who received the vaccine planned to engage in more sexual activity. These studies, however, were largely based on self-reported data. The current study is one of the first to evaluate sexual activity after vaccination among this age group based on clinical data.
Outbreak of West Nile Virus is unusually high this year, however, in 2003, 9,862 cases were reported and 264 people died, according to the CDC’s records.
This year’s outbreak is far from that, however, with human cases reported in 44 states it is still cause for alarm.
Although the disease can be deadly, not everyone will develop serious, neuro-invasive illnesses.
Some will have such light symptoms that they may not know that they are infected at all.
The nationwide numbers were up from 1,590 cases and 65 deaths reported Aug. 28, said Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, director of the CDC’s division of vector-borne infectious diseases.
“We expect this increase to continue for the next several weeks, probably until October,” said Petersen, who added that he was infected with the virus himself a few years ago. Many cases have not yet been logged because of the lag in reporting time, he said.
More than half the cases — 54 percent — are the serious neuroinvasive variety, which can lead to encephalitis or meningitis. The vast majority of West Nile infections, some 80 percent, are so mild that people don’t know they’re infected. About 20 percent develop symptoms and about 1 percent may develop serious, neuro-invasive illnesses.
The disease is spread by infected mosquitos which breed in water.
Unusual weather patterns, light winter and a hot, wet summer have contributed to a rise in the mosquito population.
See you physician if you feel that you may have any symptoms.
The debate continues over Prostate Cancer Screening tests and the new opinion is that screening with the PSA ( prostate specific antigen) may prevent 17,000 advanced cases yearly.
The problem with screening is how to proceed going forward if cancer is detected.
Watchful waiting or invasive treatments which may cause serious side effects are often the choice.
Many times the cancer is slow growing and would never had been detected as there are often no symptoms.
Last year, an influential organization called the U.S. Services Preventive Task Force (USPSTF) recommended against prostate cancer screening altogether, saying its harms outweigh its benefits.
Recent studies on the topic have also had conflicting results, with some suggesting prostate cancer screening saves lives, and others finding no benefit.
The researchers say their new findings should be taken into consideration when creating PSA screening recommendations.
“There are trade-offs associated with the PSA test, and many factors influence the disease outcome,” said study researcher Dr. Edward Messing, chairman of urology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “And yet our data are very clear: not doing the PSA test will result in many men presenting with far more advanced prostate cancer.”
And, if so, should the results warrant, should he be put on statins?
This is the debate amount physicians.
There is worry that pharmaceutical companies may have too much sway over doctors who may be influenced by money to push cholesterol lowering drugs on children.
However, a growing obesity rate would suggest that high cholesterol and the danger of developing heart disease is a real possibility.
The guidelines are endorsed by the Academy of Pediatrics, which publishes the journal that carried the critical commentary Monday. The panel recommends that all U.S. children should get blood tests for high cholesterol as early as age 9 and that testing should begin much earlier for kids at risk of future heart disease, including those with diabetes or a family history of heart problems. Treatment should generally begin with lifestyle changes including diet and exercise, the guidelines say.
Cholesterol drugs would be recommended for some kids, but probably less than 1 percent of those tested. But the advice says those drugs, including statins, shouldn’t be used at all in children younger than 10 unless they have severe problems.
The guidelines aim to help prevent and treat conditions in children that put them at risk for later heart-related problems. At least 10 percent of U.S. children have unhealthy cholesterol levels and one-third are overweight or obese.
How about preventing obesity and not taking the risk of side effects from unnecessary drugs?
“We are on the cusp of a remarkable feat: providing comprehensive, affordable health insurance to almost all American women,” Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, explained. “It is crucial that state and federal policy makers and other key stakeholders actively work together to implement the reform law and take full advantage of all the benefits the Affordable Care Act offers so that all American families are able to benefit from the law’s potential.”
Women of childbearing age are at particular risk and often cannot afford the high out of pocket cost of health care even when they are insured.
Lower wages, higher premiums and time away from work to raise families puts women at unique risk in comparison to men.
This blog is for consumers of health care and medical services. Basically, it’s for everyone. For health issues you should always see a doctor or qualified medical professional - we are not dispensing medical advice. You should, however, be an educated consumer, so we offer information to help you start the process to become educated and to ask important questions. There are many excellent resources on the web, along with all sorts of conflicting opinions and advice. The key is to use a wide variety of resources to learn and access information, so you can ask the important questions when you are with your doctor or health professional.