Preparing for a (Gulp!) Colonoscopy: What It Says About Our Healthcare System

As of November 30, I am now, as my gastroenterologist puts it, 39 + 11 years old. You know what that means! So, a couple of weeks ago I called his office to make an appointment.

I would have preferred to simply make the appointment online or even e-mailed the office, but since the practice didn’t offer this, I fought my phonaphobia and punched in the numbers. Of course, I went through five prompts before getting a live person and was put on hold for a few minutes. About 10 minutes later, I finally had my appointment.

I was told to arrive at 2:30 p.m., which I dutifully did. Then the receptionist gave me a stack of paperwork to complete. And a pen. Among the information I had to provide:

• My husband’s Social Security number, since our insurance comes courtesy of his job. Not sure why this was needed, since the receptionist made a copy of my insurance card, which has all pertinent information on it. Not to mention that in this day and age of identity theft, I don’t like giving out Social Security numbers to anyone. But the last time I refused to provide a Social Security number … 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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10 Surprising Things In Healthcare Reform (Senate version) Part 1

I promised in an earlier blog to list 10 things in the Senate version of the healthcare reform bill that you might not be aware of. Since it’s New Year’s Eve, technically a holiday, I’m only working at partial speed so you only get a partial list today. More to come over the next few days.

1. Support comparative effectiveness research by establishing a non-profit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to identify research priorities and conduct research that compares the clinical effectiveness of medical treatments.   

In English: The government will fund research to directly compare treatment A to treatment B to determine which works best and is most cost effective.  

Major weakness: the Senate bill specifically notes that the results of such research “may not be construed” as mandates, guidelines, or recommendations for payment, coverage, or treatment or used to deny coverage.

Huh? What is the point of finding out that treatment A works better than treatment B if you don’t use it to make coverage decisions???

Prediction: Most insurers will use this information to make coverage decisions, much to the chagrin of many pharmaceutical and medical device companies. In the not-too-distant-future, Medicare will join the party. After all, … Continue Reading

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