Tag: "health care quality"

Hits and Misses

Hits and Misses

Is ObamaCare Junk Insurance, Especially For Low-Income Americans?

Many of ObamaCare’s advocates believe that the proportion of a household’s income spent on health care is an appropriate measure of how effective health insurance is at doing its job. If a household spends ten percent or more of income on health care, it is said to be “underinsured” by the Commonwealth Fund or the Kaiser Family Foundation. Five percent is the cut-off for low-income households.

According to that standard, ObamaCare fails miserably at insuring low-income households:

In Washington, one in four individuals in households earning less than 250% of the poverty level signed up for a bronze plan with a deductible of $5,000-$6,350 per person and $10,000-$12,700 per family. Even after premiums, these households could face medical costs ranging from 17% to 40% of income before ObamaCare’s non-preventative-care benefits kick in.

Beyond the premium subsidies that the law provides, households earning up to 250% of the poverty level qualify for cost-sharing assistance. It can greatly reduce the deductible that must be exhausted before benefits kick in and, after that, the co-payments required for medical services and prescription drugs. But those cost-sharing subsidies are available only for those who buy silver-level coverage…

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Source:Investor’s Business Daily.

Patient Power Works: Significant Savings for Employers and Beneficiaries

We previously discussed the executive summary of CIGNA’s 8th annual Choice Fund experience study, which reports outcomes from 2.6 million beneficiaries of CIGNA’s consumer-driven employer-based health plans (that is, plans which are paired with a Health Savings Account or Health Reimbursement Arrangement). CIGNA has just released a much more detailed presentation of the results.

The presentation clarifies that the improved outcomes control for health status. That is, they compare “apples to apples”, and the results are not due to healthier people choosing consumer-driven plans and sicker people staying in traditional plans. Newly shared outcomes include:

  • Choice Fund customers increase their compliance with recommended care in the second year, even more than in the first year;
  • They improve their health-risk status by six percent;
  • Medical cost trend goes down 12 percent versus traditional plans;
  • The improvement persists over time, up to $7.900 savings by fifth year;
  • The improvement occurs in low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk patients; and
  • Because employers contribute to HSAs and HRAs, employees spend less money out of pocket than peers in traditional plans!

Some New Medicines are Approved More Quickly than Others

Joe DiMasi of the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, and colleagues, have reviewed the time it takes for the FDA to review different types of new drugs.

seniors-and-prescriptionsFDA’s Neurology division, which approves drugs for Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke, takes three times as long to approve drugs as the Oncology division. These differences cannot be explained by differences workload, the type and complexity of the drugs reviewed, or the safety of the drugs approved.

If the FDA could cut the performance gap between the divisions in half, the authors estimate that the cost of developing a new drug would decrease by $46 million — a savings that adds up to approximately $874 million per year.

Full report available from the Manhattan Institute.

Headlines I Wish I Hadn’t Seen

Unnecessary Care

As many as 42% of Medicare beneficiaries in 2009 underwent unnecessary medical treatments, costing the federal government as much as $8.5 billion, according to a study published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine. The analysis is the first large-scale examination into what Medicare spends on procedures that are widely considered to be unnecessary, such as advanced imaging for lower back pain and placing stents in patients with controlled heart disease. (KHN)

Are Doctors Really Better Than Nurses?

Confident DoctorsSimply put: the preponderance of empirical evidence indicates that, compared to physicians, NPs provide as good — if not better — quality of care. As I’ve written previously, patients are often more satisfied with NP care — and sometimes even prefer it.

The Institute of Medicine is unambiguously clear about this:

No studies suggest that APRNs [Advanced Practice Registered Nurse] are less able than physicians to deliver care that is safe, effective, and efficient or that care is better in states with more restrictive scope of practice regulations for APRNs.

More.

Headlines I Wish I Hadn’t Seen

Headlines I Wish I Hadn’t Seen