How Much Is That CT Scan In the Window?

transparencyDo you know how much that 50-inch, flat-screen TV cost? How about your car? The cashmere cardigan you just had to have?

So how much did that visit with your gyn because of your painful period cost (men: substitute whatever you want here)? The ultrasound to see if you had a fibroid? The myomectomy to remove the fibroid?

A few years ago it didn’t matter so much; most of us only had to handle relatively small copayments and many of us didn’t even have deductibles. Fast forward to today, when the cost job-based health insurance has grown faster than our incomes, essentially eating up any salary increases over the past 10 years. In fact, the average deductible has more than doubled for most employees regardless of the size of their companies.

Note I said the past 10 years. Which means you can’t blame the five-year-old Affordable Care Act entirely. In fact, out-of-pocket payments would likely be higher without the ACA; a recent report from the Commonwealth Fund found a “marked slowdown in premium growth in 31 states and the District of Columbia.” However, that same report also found that premiums increased about … Continue Reading

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cost health insurance healthcare costs healthcare reform payment

The CT Scan Cost HOW Much??

So a couple of months ago I saw my doctor about this chronic pain in my lower right abdomen. I’d had it for about a year, sometimes barely noticeable, sometimes more noticeable, and, being a medical writer, I was certain it was ovarian cancer (don’t ask my why, but I’m convinced that this is the cancer lying in wait for me, even though I have no risk factors. Medical writers are only second to med students in terms of hypochondria).

Anyway, my doctor thought it was probably gynecologic and told me to see my gyn. But he also suggested a CT scan to rule out a kidney infection or stone. Sure, I said, and off I went to radiology.

Long story short, we still don’t know why I have this sometimes pain, but it’s not that bad and I’ll just live with it (until it turns out to be something serious and it kills me [see, I told you medical writers were hypochondriacs]).

But the pain got much worse last week when I received a bill from the radiology center for $778.62. Turns out that’s what I owe after my insurance company paid it’s part of the charge. Here’s how … Continue Reading

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Affordable Care Act cost health insurance healthcare costs healthcare reform healthcare system; Obamacare payment

Elective Deliveries: A Sign of a Healthcare System Out of Control

My husband is always getting on me about the number of tabs I have open in my browser at any one time. I think one time I had more than 100 open.

Within the past few days, at least 10 of those tabs dealt with the same topic: medical tests and procedures that we either don’t need or that don’t work. There are simply too many for a single blog, so I’m focusing on one here and will write more about others in the coming days.

The lucky winner? Births.

Seems like an obvious medical procedure, doesn’t it? Baby is delivered when mom goes into labor or, if problems develop or mom goes over her due date, labor is induced. So why, as  Kaiser Health News recently reported, are 10 to 15 percent of U.S. babies  delivered early without medical cause, up to 40 percent in some hospitals?

Early delivery increases the risk that the baby will have feeding and breathing problems, infections, and developmental problems, requiring a stay in costly neonatal intensive care units. It also increases the risk that mothers will need caesarian sections (indeed, many of these births are scheduled c-sections).

Why the early deliveries? Convenience for … Continue Reading

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Healthcare Reform 2.0: Five things you need to know to grow your business in 2013

How much do you know about healthcare reform — and I don’t mean just the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). I mean the coming tsunami of change that has the potential to completely revamp one of the most dysfunction systems in our country (as you know from reading my blog).

Do you know. . .

Why we need healthcare reform? What healthcare reform means for your employees and employer? How healthcare reform will change your interactions with the healthcare system? How healthcare reform may make it safer for you to get sick? Why healthcare reform will save you money?

If you can’t tell me the answers to these questions, then you need to block off 1-2 p.m. (eastern) February 5 for my webinar: Healthcare Reform 2.0: Five things you need to know to grow your business in 2013. You can also view it on demand.

And, as a “thank you” for reading this blog, I’ll give you half off the registration fee. Just use code GS12713 when you register.

 

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Affordable Care Act health insurance healthcare costs healthcare reform healthcare system; managed care Obamacare patient-centered healthcare payment

The Care and Feeding of a Freelance Medical Writer

horseMany have asked me: How can I make sure that my freelance medical writer is happy? For, as any freelance medical writer knows, we can be an ornery lot, arguing over the merits of yellow vs green when highlighting PDF references; Endnote vs RefMan; the true meaning of a P value. Yet, like any high-strung, thoroughbred, given the right care and feeding, your medical writer can be your greatest asset.

To that end, here is my advice on the care and feeding of your freelance medical writer.

1. Be specific in your commands. I just met with a new client about writing needs assessments. Rather than verbally explain things to me (and the other freelancers he uses) he handed me a folder. Inside was a sample needs assessment with his comments as to what worked and what didn’t work. He also included a sample letter of agreement and a checklist for identifying potential faculty. It was only my years of training that prevented me from leaping across the table and hugging him.

2. Commit to your training regimen. You know how much it costs … Continue Reading

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10 Surprising Things In Healthcare Reform (Senate version) Part 2

Pile of red ring bindersSo sorry for the delay in getting you Part 2 of my health care reform article (and if you’re wondering where Part 1 is, it’s here).  Every now and again I actually have to do some work that pays the bills.

But here you go with the final six surprising things in the Senate version of healthcare reform. So those of you who have barricaded yourselves in the bathroom and gone on a hunger strike awaiting my next post can now emerge.

(full disclosure: My source for this is a fabulous side-by-side comparison of the Senate and House versions from the Kaiser Family Foundation).

5. Require chain restaurants and food sold from vending machines to disclose the nutritional content of each item. In English: We’re going to know how many calories and how much fat, salt, and sugar are in the foods we adore (i.e., all those foods that are bad for us). A great article in today’s Washington Post covers this in more detail, including the fact that when restaurants display (or have to display) … Continue Reading

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Making a List and Checking it Twice. . .

CheckNo, I’m not Santa but I’m still making a list. Unlike Santa’s list, this one only includes those who have been naughty. Specifically, companies that use freelance medical writers but do not pay within a timely manner (i.e., 45 days from invoicing); do not pay at all; or significantly change the scope of the project but balk (or walk away) when the writer tries to change the scope of the fee.

This list was triggered by a Tweet from someone about Time Inc., and NBC charging freelancers a percentage of their fee if they want to be paid in a timely manner. Imagine that. If you want to be paid within a month or so, you have to agree to give up 4% or so of the money owed you.

There is just so much wrong with that thinking I don’t even know where to start. My outrage might be the result, in part, of my own payment woes. As I wrote in an earlier post, I have a client who just informed me they are paying at 90 days or later … Continue Reading

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clients payment

The check is in the . . . .

As one of my freelance friends recently noted on a Facebook post, the best days in a freelancer’s life are when the checks arrive. Lately, those days have been farther and farther apart.

This is the first year in 10 years of freelancing that I’ve actually woken up in the middle of the night worried about cash flow. The money is there–I’ve done the work and billed the invoices. But one large client went into Chapter 11 just as I was completing the first third of a major project. No worries, the editor assured me. All freelancers will be paid. Well, it took several calls and threats to stop work on the project before the second check finally arrived. Thankfully, the third check arrived with no problems.

Another client, a large professional medical organization, keeps “losing” my paperwork.

But the excuse that really makes me crazy is when I’m told that since my client’s client hasn’t paid them, they can’t pay me. Um, excuse me?

My contract is with you, not your client.  This is like me telling the guy currently painting my house that I can’t pay him for three months because my clients haven’t paid me. Imaging telling … Continue Reading

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