Healthcare inflation or deflation – Different view points

In the Medicare model that I built last month, I made an assumption that healthcare inflation will subside over the next eight years and help bring medicare spending as percent of gdp in line with what it is today.

Over the last week I talked to several people in the healthcare industry that provide anecdotal evidence for both.

Deflationary: A prominent researcher who is working on the materials for bone regeneration says that having such materials will enable a person to get up and walk after the surgery and that future is not far away. This is very deflationary as there will less need for hospital stays and post surgery care.

Inflationary: Someone who works in finance for a medium size medical conglomerate says that everyone in the system from doctors to oncology drug administrators have the incentive to increase prices as they get paid based on a percentage of the total revenue. Pharmaceutical sales people high five the people that sell to when there the price increases as everyone makes more money. Someone has to pay though.

If you want to read some interesting discussion of the model, click here.

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New Functionality: Case Images

Now anyone can add images to his or her case. Check out some of the cases with images:

Currently, you can add images through the web site only. iPhone functionality coming soon.

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Google Body Browser Looks Good

It’s a great learning tool and it’s very fast (at least in Chrome). You can search for any anatomical term and it will display. Google Body Browser Here is an example of searching for clavicle.

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Learn Who Needs to Comprimise To Solve Medicare and How

In order to come up with a solution to Medicare, three players need to come up with a compromise. Learn who and how here: Solving Medicare Through Compromise

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iPhone App Version 2 – Create and Share Treatment Cases

In this version in addition to browsing for treatment information, users can do the following:

  • share, view, and edit treatment cases
  • create and edit profile information

Give it a try!

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Medical Education and Debt

With the demographics changing in a way that requires more and more workers in the medical field, it makes sense that the government provides loans to students that want to attend for profit medical programs. However, there is providing money to real students and there is providing money to fraud. Many of the for profit schools simply take too much money for providing sub par education to many people that don’t qualify or will never pay back the debt for many different reasons. And the government once again does not have the guts to really regulate these for profit colleges even though it’s the biggest payer. Education stocks rally after key rule softened

This is really too bad. We need more quality medical education, not just scams that take money from the government.

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Repost: Review of Anthem BlueCross “Compare Facility Cost and Quality” Tool

I have not been very happy with the way Anthem BlueCross has been raising premiums for the past five years, but at least they are spending some of the money on tools that improve patient experience.

In order to access “Compare Facility Quality and Cost Tool”, one needs to be a member of the Anthem website. It took a few minutes to figure out how to launch the tool (I had to watch a tutorial). Once launched, the interface is very simple.

You can choose procedure category and the specific procedure

The report that comes up shows the cost of the procedure as well as number of procedures that has been performed at the hospital (this is very similar to the tool that Medicare site provides).

All they have to do now is to add patient experiences and results after the procedure.

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IPhone App Released

We recently finished an IPhone application to access information. Currently it’s a read only with ability to vote for helpful cases. Give it a try!

Treatment Report - Pilothouse Consulting, Inc.

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Cell Phone Radiation

Someday we will find out the true effects of electromagnetic radiation on human beings.

“What we showed is glucose metabolism (a sign of brain activity) increases in the brain in people who were exposed to a cellphone in the area closet to the antenna,” said Dr. Nora Volkow of the NIH, whose study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

See the full story:
Cellphone calls alter brain activity: study

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MRI Tips: Open vs. Closed, Price, Prescription

The last time I had an MRI was twelve years ago. I just went to a place recommended by the doctor not carrying for the cost since my insurance covered it 100%. This time around I decided to do some research before getting an MRI on my lumbar and lower thoracic spine.

First, I was surprised to learn that closed MRIs have much stronger 1.5 Tesla magnets than open ones that generally have 0.3 Tesla magnets (the last time I had an open one). Stronger magnets produce a much better resolution. According to one biased closed MRI tech who performed my current MRI: “Open MRIs are just garbage. Open MRIs take much longer too as they try to make up for the magnet strength with time”. I found one open MRI in San Jose area that was 1.2 Tesla but it was too far of a drive, plus I am not claustrophobic.

Second, the cash price ranged from $400 to $500 based on about five places that I called. I don’t know what it would cost if insurance was billed. I can still submit the procedure for reinvestment to my HSA compatible plan.

At the end of the procedure (that took about 25 minutes) I walked away with a disc that contained MRI images and a program to view them. I got a radiologist report by mail a couple of days later.

One thing that does not make sense with imaging procedures such as MRI or CAT scan is that one needs doctor’s prescription. This is true for other test such as blood work. I believe that most people should be able to make this type of decision on their own especially that the results are not even produced by the referring doctor, but by a radiologist who works for the imaging facility.

Posted in Behavior, Decision Making, Health Insurance, Healthcare Politics, Price Transparency, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments