Res ipsa loquitor.
Res ipsa loquitor.
Res ipsa loquitor.
Last Friday, I put out a call for posts about healthcare costs and/or health insurance innovation for the HCSM community. Here’s the brain candy that flew over the MightyCaseyMedia transom:
First up: an examination of STD occurrence alongside STD testing costs in the New York metro area from ClearHealthCosts.com (@chcosts), written by Sherry Mazzocchi. This is a deep dive into the incidence of STDs across New York City, with snapshots of what consumers actually pay for STD testing at a number of facilities across the region. Runs from $0 (for members of a subscription medical practice) to $600 for women who visit a Westchester County practice. Like Uwe Reinhardt has said for years, healthcare pricing is chaos behind a veil of secrecy.
For patients looking to pierce that veil and direct-pay for their care, ClearHealthCosts’ founder Jeanne Pinder offers up this post – New ways of paying: Cutting out the middleman. Seems like everybody’s looking for a better way to hold down health costs. In a number of cases, that means patient and provider are getting together directly, without the middleman (the insurance company). You could start asking, “How much is that?” and acting on the answer.
With Oct. 1 and the dawn of the ACA’s new health insurance marketplaces, Jeanne Pinder shares What it means to you: Oct. 1 and buying health insurance. Maybe you avoid the topic of health insurance, but you can’t any longer. If you’re not covered by employer insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, you will need to know things about buying insurance (or choosing not to buy it). Her post offers some actionable advice on how to figure out what the marketplace means to you.
From one of my favorite places, Costs of Care (@CostsofCare), comes a post by David Marcovitz titled “A Routine Denial,” about how it feels to have an expensive test declined by your insurer after it’s been done. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of one of these notices, you know that it feels anything but routine. After the appeals process. David discovered just how chaotic healthcare pricing is. A great read.
Like David, Brave Bosom founder Andrea Downing (@BraveBosom) discovered that she had a genetic predisposition to a disease. In her case, it was BRCA, the genetic mutation that increases risk for breast cancer. Andrea is a leader in the young “previvor” community, and offers up this post on what healthcare reform means for her, for her community, and for other people who have potential destructive dynamite in their DNA. Genetic testing and counseling is a terrific resource; worrying how it might impact your insurance coverage shouldn’t have to be a consideration when you’re making a decision about your health.
ePatient Dave deBronkart (@ePatientDave) is a world-famous (really) patient activist. He’s written two books, and spoken at conferences across the globe. His post “Ratty boxers: what it means to really, truly have no money” resonated powerfully for me, since all e-patient experts face the same challenge: patients aren’t yet seen as experts worthy of remuneration by the healthcare industry. Dave has helped move the needle on that – here’s hoping that his message spreads into the hearts and minds of organizations who are still expecting patients to pay for the privilege of speaking to audiences who need to know what we know: how to make healthcare more human-friendly.
Alan Brewington (@abrewi3010) blogs at PainTalks.com – he’s a guy with chronic arthritis from some rather epic sports injuries. He sent along a post on the pending health insurance exchanges from the front lines in a Red State: Idaho. Titled “Health Insurance Exchange, Idaho, Arthritis, and Me,” Alan’s post walks the reader through an exploration of the new health insurance exchange marketplace, figuring out what kind of coverage is available at what premium cost. As a chronic pain patient, Alan knows more about the ins and outs of health insurance than the average guy his age, and makes some good observations about what it will take for healthcare reform to work.
Closing our cavalcade of #HCSM awesome, here’s a post from Carolyn Thomas at MyHeartSisters.com (@HeartSisters) on how online communities help patients cope, and give them the power to move on. “Discover. Join. Leave.” is a great journey through the life cycle of online patient groups. Some come and stay, others arrive looking for specific help, all make a contribution when they can. Peer-to-peer healthcare is a web, just like … the web. Carolyn tells a great troll-taming story, too – another terrific read.
If you’d like to participate in the HealthWorksCollective #HCSM Review – click this link to look at the schedule, and find out how to get on the list. Thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
I’m honored to be hosting the Health Care Social Media Review #36 next week. HCSM Review is a biweekly peer-reviewed blog carnival for published posts about social media use in healthcare. The two most recent HCSM reviews were hosted by Symplur and ZocDoc.
Have you read some great posts about healthcare costs and/or health insurance innovation during the past two weeks that you’d like to prescribe as tasty brain candy for the HCSM community?
Send me links to those pieces before Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 8am Pacific Time (11am Eastern, 10am Central, 9am Mountain).
Here’s how to submit posts:
Send me an email (click the link, or type firstname.lastname@example.org into the TO field) with the subject “HCSM Review” and the following info:
Link: URL of post
Title: What you want the title to be
Description. Your short description of the post
Twitter: Your Twitter handle
Learn more about the HCSM Review by visiting HealthWorks Collective or follow @healthcollectiv on Twitter.
It’s that simple! Looking forward to spotlighting some outstanding content – so share some!
It was recently revealed that an Excel error contributed to the European fiscal crisis, and a continuing global economic recession/depression. Paul Krugman called the revelation the Excel Depression in the NY Times. Certainly lives are at stake when the success or failure of large economies are at risk, but not nearly as many lives as are at stake every day given the lack of transparency (and even, in some cases, plain truth) in bioscience research and medical outcomes reporting.
Ben Goldacre gave a barn-burning TED talk, “Battling Bad Science,” in 2011. He gave another one in 2012 in which he called the data manipulation in scientific research the “cancer at the core of evidence-based medicine.” His point? We cannot make a meaningful decision in the absence of ALL the data.
Paul Levy, the former CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, recently blogged about the failure of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery to reveal, in a report on a surgery for sunken-chest deformity, a widely-reported death of a teenage boy after said surgery, even though that boy’s case is used as an example of avoidable medical error in safety bootcamps for medical interns and residents. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
Even if the data is fully reported, the PR geeks who write up the announcement of results might get that report 100% wrong. Witness the recent contretemps over a University of Chicago study on patient engagement, shared decision-making, and healthcare cost control. A full outline of that mess, by ePatient Dave deBronkart in Forbes, will give you 411 on that story. The Cliff’s Notes: it was a post-discharge survey, not a full study; it measured attitudes, not outcomes; and the press release was sent out on a holiday weekend, ensuring both pick up (slow news cycle) and lack of follow up.
Given the general public’s lack of understanding of science, the scarcity of journos who can interpret same for said general public, and the scale-thumbing going on in bioscience research, what’s to be done to reverse this disease-mongering and full-on prevarication (look it up) trend?
How about a Snopes.com for medicine? We could call it … Stetho-Snopes. There’s certainly enough interest in the subject on the part of people and organizations. The challenge is to take all the small villages of interest across the globe and give them a repository for what they find, and what they can debunk.
Ben Goldacre is walking his own talk with an effort called AllTrials, a petition that’s demanding open data from all sources of medical research. Organizations like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are working on making medicine and healthcare more transparent and accessible for patients. The Society for Participatory Medicine‘s membership is committed to the same mission: transparency and collaboration across the continuum of care.
How about we all band together and make RAW DATA NOW a reality in medicine? GIMME MY DaM DATA. Now.
I’m still recovering from the month of May. I was all up in the healthcare, pretty much 24/7, which differs not-much from my usual roll, other than that in the period of three weeks, I was in DC for eight of 21 days, May 14 through June 5, attending HM13 (the annual meeting of the Society of Hospital Medicine, which I covered for The Hospitalist magazine podcasts) and Health Data Palooza IV as just-me on a Consumer Circle scholarship.
What I saw and heard at both conferences made me hopeful for the future of healthcare … sort of. As inspiring as both of them were, I found the SHM conference more of a hope engine for just-e-patient me than the rah-rah tech-fest that was #hdpalooza. Granted, HM13 was organized and run by a medical society that has a big upward swing on its membership, and in the income of said members, which means that there was a breadth and depth of content that wouldn’t be available at non-clinical conferences.
I got plenty of mental floss out of both of them. Here are the high (and low) lights:
Still glaringly missing from all of this rah-rah is the actual, real-world voice of the patient – HM13 can be (somewhat) forgiven for that, since it’s a medical society annual conference. I will note that, in all my interviews for HM13 podcasts, the question, “How can patients help?” was warmly welcomed by everyone asked, and answered with enthusiasm and insight. Figuring out how to break the walls down between clinicians and patients – “gimme my damn data,” two-way edition – using health IT systems as the wedge seems to be a place to start. But letting patients help there is utterly crucial.
Speaking of sitting too long … time for a bike ride to my polling place to vote in today’s off-year election primary in my state. I’m voting for a guy who’s worked on opening up health data. Win/win … ?
I’ve been heard in these precincts and elsewhere on the topic of employer-backed group health insurance, and the reasons why I believe it’s an idea whose time has gone. Granted, I’ve felt like a little voice crying in the wilderness, but with a firm conviction that I was just an early adopter of this opinion.
So imagine my glee when a headline popped up in my Google+ news feed that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation had published a study showing a distinct downward trend in the number of companies paying for employee health insurance.
The key findings:
In short, less than 60% of adults who are employed full-time now have employer-backed group health insurance coverage. My response in the G+ thread? HALLELUJAH.
The prospect of losing group health insurance scares the pants off of those who still have that coverage. What I say to those who are currently pants-ing themselves in fear of losing their coverage is: keep calm, and carry on. There is a path to group coverage – even keeping the coverage you now have – if your employer wants an exit strategy on paying for health insurance for their employees.
I’m not an HR expert. I’m not in the insurance industry. I’m a journalist and writer who has built up, over a couple of decades, a wealth of both research and anecdotal experience in buying healthcare, buying health insurance, and being a member of the great unwashed, um, un-insured. When it comes to healthcare and the purchasing of same, I’ve been there, done that, have the t-shirts/knife scars/stories to prove it.
Here’s my recommendation on how the scenario of shifting group health insurance from “company pays” to “individual pays” unfolds:
Think I’m outta my mind? That I’m singing a solitary chorus of crazy here? Not so much. Sears and Darden Inc. (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and LongHorn restaurants) have initiated health benefits changes that are mighty like what I outline above.
That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it. Got an opinion you’d like to share? Want to beat me up in the comments? Go for it.
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