Hardware and software medical applications are increasingly being developed for smartphones. This one is a convenient mini-laboratory powered by a smartphone. As reported in MedCity News:
Although molecular diagnostic devices tend to be expensive, Biomeme figured out how to build one that uses a smartphone and sells for roughly $1,000. In addition to STD testing…it’s developing tests for dengue fever, yellow fever, and malaria, among others.
One of the interesting things about the company is how wide the applications are for healthcare sectors and beyond. It currently has 10 partnerships with groups in agriculture, environmental monitoring, along with military uses.
In January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced plans to change how Medicare Part D plans are regulated. To save money, CMS wanted to block seniors’ access to drug plans that offer lower premiums (and lower copays) in return for patronizing a preferred pharmacy network. The changes would also have limited seniors’ access to certain medications.
Medicare bureaucrats believe seniors have too much choice! Last month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed sweeping changes to the Medicare Part D drug program. Released without fanfare, buried in a 700 page veritable plethora of regulations published in the Federal Register were three significant changes to the Medicare drug program. These proposed regulations include: 1) Any willing pharmacy regulations to prohibit exclusive networks; 2) reducing the number of protected classes of drugs covered in each plan; and 3) reducing the number of drug plans that plan sponsors are allowed to offer in each service region.
Any willing pharmacy regulations prevent plan sponsors from creating exclusive pharmacy networks. The proposed regulations would require drug plans to allow participation by any pharmacy willing to abide by the terms of the “winning” bidder in the network contract. This weakens drug plans’ bargaining power to negotiate the lowest prices from pharmacies competing to be included in a network.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will undoubtedly reduce seniors’ access to care. A huge chunk of the funding for ObamaCare is derived from cutting $716 billion from the Medicare program over the next decade. For instance, one provision cuts the fees paid to physicians who treat Medicare enrollees by 25 percent. Another provision — the Independent Payment Advisory Board — will have the power to slow Medicare spending by curtailing increases in Medicare provider payments. A third strike reduces funding for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, which cover one-quarter of Medicare beneficiaries. Compared to traditional Medicare, MA plans provide approximately $825 annually in added benefits to (mostly) moderate-income enrollees.
In early January the Obama administration announced yet another attack on seniors’ pocketbooks. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to block seniors from choosing Medicare Part D drug plans that offer lower premiums (and lower co-pays) in return for patronizing a preferred pharmacy network.
Reducing Seniors’ Choices.Since its inception, the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) mandated a statutory, non-interference clause. The MMA specifically blocked Medicare from taking sides in the negotiation process (i.e. interfering) between the plans and plan vendors. Contract negotiations between drug makers, pharmacy networks and drug plan sponsors were strictly left to the respective parties. However, some Medicare administrators remain skeptical of provisions in the MMA prohibiting it from interfering in the negotiation process — something the MMA explicitly prohibits.
First marriages are taking place later in life. And, increasingly, couples are opting out of marriage entirely. Living together prior to marriage — or as a substitute for marriage — is about 15 times more common today than it was 50 years ago. About half of all women of childbearing age have lived with a romantic partner prior to marriage. This figure approaches three-quarters of women in their 20s. Social conservatives may dismiss this as a case of waning morality — morally-challenged couples shacking up rather than entering into holy matrimony. Yet the reasons could be partially economic.
The decline of marriage may be partly due to so-called marriage penalties in the federal tax code, and in government welfare programs. You can add another penalty to the list: the ObamaCare exchange marriage penalty.
A centerpiece of ObamaCare is the establishment of health insurance exchanges where qualifying individuals can purchase subsidized, individual health insurance. However, these exchange subsidies — which are based on the federal poverty level (FPL) — are far more generous to cohabitating partners than to married couples.
The reason cohabitating couples fare better than married ones is because the federal poverty level does not rise proportionally with the number of individuals in the family. For example, the poverty level is $11,490 for an individual, but only increases to $15,510 for a married couple — just $4,020 more. Thus, two unmarried individuals living together qualify for larger federal subsidies than they would if they were married.
But you say it’s time
We move in together;
Raise a family of our own,
You and me.
The Commonwealth Fund put out yet another report designed to bash the U.S. health care system. One of the claims is that Americans are forced to spend too much out-of-pocket. Yet, this claim isn’t supported by the data. According to the OECD, the average OOP spending as a percent of all health care spending is 20 percent across developed countries — nearly double the U.S. rate of 11.6 percent.