Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’
Every year, the International Federation of Health Plans — a global insurance trade association that includes more than 100 insurers in 25 countries — releases survey data showing the prices that insurers are actually paying for different drugs, devices, and medical services in different countries. And every year, the data is shocking.
The IFHP just released the data for 2012. And yes, once again, the numbers are shocking.
This is the fundamental fact of American health care: We pay much, much more than other countries do for the exact same things. For a detailed explanation of why, see this article. But this post isn’t about the why. It’s about the prices, and the graphs.
One note: Prices in the United States are expressed as a range. There’s a reason for that. In other countries, prices are set centrally and most everyone, no matter their region or insurance arrangement, pays pretty close to the same amount. In the United States, each insurer negotiates its own prices, and different insurers end up paying wildly different amounts. That’s what Steven Brill’s explosive article was about, and it’s why you see U.S. prices expressed as a range rather than a single number.
Read more by Ezra Klein at WashingtonPost.com
–SNIP– THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS NOT A FREE MARKET
The current system is not a case of the free market failing the little guy and favoring the wealthy. Right now:
You cannot choose one medication over another, even beforehand, on the basis of cost;
You cannot choose one hospital over another based on the quality of management and nursing support;
You cannot choose your doctor based on hourly rate or volume of patients;
You cannot choose what procedures you want or need based on how much they cost from one hospital or doctor to the next.
This is insane.
–SNIP– THE SOLUTIONS ARE OUT THERE, BUT SPECIAL INTERESTS WANT A QUICK FIX
John Mackey is the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, a national grocery chain that specializes in organic, unprocessed foods and natural remedies. It is an immensely successful venture, with 340 stores worldwide and 73,000 full-time employees, all of which qualify for a custom health care plan the company has devised. In 2009, amidst the health care reform battle, Mackey wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that compiled the most important and understandable reform principles needed in health care, and presented them as an alternative. The current law take almost none of them into account, and simply changes who pays for it rather that moving the industry toward a real free market.
These solutions are not the be all-end all of reform, but they are the most fundamental change we could advocate that would take our current system and move it closer to one that is cheaper, more accessible, freer and more flexible to changing patient needs and scientific discoveries.
Read more by Ed Willing at willingness.me
It’s one of the most fundamental political questions of our time: What’s driving the growth in government spending? And it has a relatively straightforward answer: first and foremost, spending on health care through Medicare and Medicaid, and other major social insurance and entitlement programs.
But I thought it was worth reviewing the evidence in a bit more detail. There are a few surprises along the way, some of which liberal readers might like and others of which will please conservative readers.
The Web site usgovernmentspending.com has an abundance of data on federal, state and local spending at different points in time. My focus will be on how government has been spending its money in the present and the past, rather than evaluating any future budgets or projections.
Read more by NATE SILVER at fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com
Surgery center provides free-market medicine.
Three years ago, Dr. Keith Smith, co-founder and managing partner of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, took an initiative that would only be considered radical in the health care industry: He posted online a list of prices for 112 common surgical procedures. The 51-year-old Smith, a self-described libertarian, and his business partner, Dr. Steve Lantier, founded the Surgery Center 15 years ago, after they became disillusioned with the way patients were treated at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, where the two men worked as anesthesiologists. In 1997, Smith and Lantier bought the shell of a former surgical center with the aim of creating a for-profit facility that could deliver first-rate care at a fraction of what traditional hospitals charge.
The major cause of exploding U.S. heath care costs is the third-party payer system, a text-book concept in which A buys goods or services from B that are paid for by C. Because private insurance companies or the government generally pick up most of the tab for medical services, patients don’t have the normal incentive to seek out value.
The Surgery Center’s consumer-driven model could become increasingly common as Americans look for alternatives to the traditional health care market—an unintended consequence of Obamacare. Patients may have no choice but to look outside the traditional health care industry in the face of higher costs and reduced access to doctors and hospitals.
Read more by Jim Epstein at Reason.com
At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.
The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.
Read more by Scott Bronstein and Drew Griffin at CNN.com
It angered me when President Obama in 2009 said doctors were so greedy, they might perform unnecessary surgery on a child (yes, the President of the United States actually said this) just to collect a few extra bucks. It was so far from what I knew of doctors, especially the ones who saved my daughter’s life on the day she was born. I found the president’s claim so offensive, I ran for the Senate – so I could help undo the damage inflicted on our health care system by the president’s health care law.
Read more by Sen. Ron Johnson at ronjohnson.senate.gov
“Repealing and replacing” Obamacare with market-oriented reforms has been the Republican mantra for years now. If you’re a long-time follower of this space, you know that we’re skeptical that Obamacare will ever be repealed, GOP slogans to the contrary. Today, however, a trio of experienced Senate Republicans—Tom Coburn (Okla.), Richard Burr (N.C.), and Orrin Hatch (Utah)—have put forth the most thoughtful and constructive plan yet developed to repeal and replace Obamacare. The plan seeks to ensure that as many Americans have health coverage as Obamacare does. It’s a proposal grounded in the real-world tradeoffs that all serious reformers must make. Want to know how those tradeoffs might affect you? Read on.
Read more by Avik Roy at Forbes.com
In the US we are used to abortion advocates claiming that the risk of elective abortion is relatively trivial, and major medical organizations denying any link between abortion and breast cancer. Now a powerful new study from China published last week by Yubei Huang and colleagues suggests otherwise. The article, a meta-analysis pooling 36 studies from 14 provinces in China, showed that abortion increased the risk of breast cancer by 44% with one abortion, and 76% and 89% with two and three abortions.
This new article is another example of the recent excellent scholarship on abortion in peer-reviewed journals coming out of the People’s Republic. There is no bigger data base than China, where there are an average of 8.2 million pregnancy terminations every year, and 40 abortions for every 100 live births. Chinese researchers and physicians are unencumbered by abortion politics, and do not cover up data showing long term effects of induced abortion, as do their US counterparts in governmental, professional and consumer organizations.
Read more by Mary L. Davenport, MD at AmericanThinker.com
If you live in a middle-class household, you generally expect your needs to be met through the marketplace. You buy or rent housing in the real estate market. When you aren’t driving your own car, you catch a taxicab or maybe even hire a limo. You or your employer buy health insurance, and you choose your doctor in the medical marketplace.
For most poor families, the experience is very different. Regulations designed to protect entrenched special interests have succeeded in raising the costs of basic services so much that low-income families have been priced out of the market for many essential services. Middle-class and poor communities differ not just by income. For the middle class, basic needs are met by markets and they benefit from the customer-pleasing innovations that competition produces. All too often, the poor must turn to public programs with all of the customer-pleasing attributes of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Take housing, for example. The cheapest form of housing is small, prefabricated homes for zero-lot developments. However, zoning regulations in most cities outlaw them — an act that effectively doubles the price of the cheapest housing. There are also other expensive restrictions on new housing, such as forcing builders to build on bigger lots and mandating specific types of materials and construction methods. Regulations vary widely across the United States. In Houston, a less restrictive city, regulatory costs add about $13,200 to the price of an average home. In San Diego, a multitude of regulations add $240,000. These cost-increasing regulations have essentially priced many low-income residents out of the market for a private home, forcing them to turn to public housing instead.
Then there is transportation . . .
Read more by John Goodman from Oct 22, 2011 at Townhall
The kitchen counter in the home of the Hayes family is scattered with the inhalers, sprays and bottles of pills that have allowed Hannah, 13, and her sister, Abby, 10, to excel at dance and gymnastics despite a horrific pollen season that has set off asthma attacks, leaving the girls struggling to breathe.
Asthma — the most common chronic disease that affects Americans of all ages, about 40 million people — can usually be well controlled with drugs. But being able to afford prescription medications in the United States often requires top-notch insurance or plenty of disposable income, and time to hunt for deals and bargains.
The arsenal of medicines in the Hayeses’ kitchen helps explain why. Pulmicort, a steroid inhaler, generally retails for over $175 in the United States, while pharmacists in Britain buy the identical product for about $20 and dispense it free of charge to asthma patients. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, typically costs $50 to $100 per inhaler in the United States, but it was less than $15 a decade ago, before it was repatented.
Read more By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL at NYTimes.com
ever-expanding role of government in healthcare provides an excellent example of Ludwig Von Mises’ warning that “The Middle of the Road Leads to Socialism.” Beginning in the 1940s, government policies distorted the health care market, causing prices to rise and denying many Americans access to quality care. Congress reacted to the problems caused by their prior interventions with new interventions, such as the HMO Act, ERISA, EMTLA, and various federal entitlement programs. Each new federal intervention not only failed to fix the problems it was supposedly created to solve, it created new problems, leading to calls for even more new federal interventions. This process culminated in 2010, when Congress passed Obamacare.
Contrary to the claims of some of its opponents, Obamacare is not socialized medicine. It is corporatized medicine. After all, the central feature of Obamacare is the mandate that all Americans buy health insurance from private health insurance companies. And, as with previous government interventions in the marketplace, Obamacare is not only failing to correct the problems caused by prior federal laws, it is creating new problems.
Read more by Ron Paul at the-free-foundation.org
The ‘death panel’ is a new beast, with god-like powers. Congress should repeal it or test its constitutionality.
Signs of ObamaCare’s failings mount daily, including soaring insurance costs, looming provider shortages and inadequate insurance exchanges. Yet the law’s most disturbing feature may be the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB, sometimes called a “death panel,” threatens both the Medicare program and the Constitution’s separation of powers. At a time when many Americans have been unsettled by abuses at the Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department, the introduction of a powerful and largely unaccountable board into health care merits special scrutiny.
Read more by by DAVID B. RIVKIN JR. and ELIZABETH P. FOLEY at WSJ.com
Here is a basic fact of health care in the United States: Doctors and hospitals know what they charge, but patients don’t know what they pay. As in any market, when one side has no information, that side loses: price secrecy is a major reason medical bills are so high. In my previous column, I wrote about the effect of this lack of transparency on the bills patients pay out of pocket.
We know about these bills, which hit us directly. What most people don’t know, because the costs are hidden, is that the same imbalance exists with insurance. The employers and employees who buy health coverage have delegated vigilance over health care costs to insurers — but insurers, for the most part, have gone AWOL.
Read more by TINA ROSENBERG at NYTimes.com