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Prescription Costs More Likely to Deter Hispanics in Study

HBNS STORY | May 10, 2010

Our Shopping Problem

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 17, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

Apparently, borrowers who obtained a home loan in the last five years spent five hours researching a mortgage, half the amount of time they spent researching a car and the same amount of time they spent researching a vacation, according to a study reported in The New York Times on Saturday.

Out-of-Pocket Costs Put Arthritis Drugs Out of Reach for Some

HBNS STORY | May 20, 2010

How Can We Pay Less for our Health Care?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 25, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

I just completed a series of radio and TV interviews about the extent to which people participate in their health care you know, those three-questions-in-90 seconds blips that currently constitute news for the viewing/listening public.

Lead Us Not into Expectations

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 6, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

Have you noticed that when health experts discuss the high cost of care, they often assert that our demands for more and more advanced -- care are driving the upward trajectory of its cost?

Paying to Participate

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 14, 2010 | Goldie Pyka

Chicago Doctor Reveals Hidden Health Care Pricing'.

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 22, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

Prescription Restrictions Cut Costs, But How Does Health Fare?

HBNS STORY | August 17, 2010

More People Get Health Screenings When Deductibles Are Waived

HBNS STORY | October 15, 2010

Inside Health Care: Are Patients 'Priceless?'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 23, 2010 | CFAH Staff

An inside look at the cost of health care: a physician confused by the transparency of Medicare reimbursements and a patient in San Francisco unable to afford treatment for an enlarged prostate.

Dicker With Your Doc? Not So Fast'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 20, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

'How to Haggle With Your Doctor' was the title of a recent Business section column in The New York Times. This is one of many similar directives to the public in magazines, TV and Websites urging us to lower the high price of our health care by going mano a mano with our physicians about the price of tests they recommend and the drugs they prescribe. Such articles provide simple, commonsense recommendations about how to respond to the urgency many of us feel ' insured or uninsured ' to reduce our health care expenses.

More Americans Turn to Lower-Cost Alternative Meds, Especially Whites

HBNS STORY | February 1, 2011

How the Cost of Health Care Creeps Up and Up

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 1, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

In a previous post, I talked about what happens when a radiology practice goes digital for mammography, even though there's scant evidence that more-expensive digital is better than cheaper film for detecting cancer in older women. Yet the higher-priced costly procedure is winning out. That's pretty much the norm for U.S. health care, for instance, when ThinPrep replaced the conventional method for doing Pap smears. I used to pay $9 for the test; the one I had last summer cost $250.

Patient Perspectives: Paying for Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 4, 2011 | CFAH Staff

This week's roundup features the patient voices of Brad Wright and Monte Jaffe and the decisions they made when faced with expensive health care costs.

Reform Is Not To Blame For Rising Health Care Costs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 7, 2011 | Jim Jaffe

In a development so predictable that it hardly merits being called news, American health care costs continue to rise and opponents of the new health reform law say the Obama plan is to blame. Some small employers report massive insurance premium increases.

Will Medical Bankruptcy Be a Ghost of the Past?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 15, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

During the health care debates, didn't you hear the president repeatedly tell the crowds that reform would mean that people would no longer be forced into bankruptcy because of illness? Insuring people who previously had no insurance does give them a cushion of protection and will mean that some of them will avoid bankruptcy court'but not all.

Taking Diabetes Medication Helps Lower Medical Costs, Slightly

HBNS STORY | March 18, 2011

A new study shows that diabetes patients who do a better job of taking their medication have slightly lower health care costs.

How Code Creep Boosts the Price of Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 22, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

About 30 years ago I had my first run-in with code creep. A urologist I had visited for a garden-variety urinary tract infection billed $400 to determine that this was what I had. The price seemed excessive, and then I looked at the bill. The good doctor has 'unbundled' his services. He charged for every single thing he did'inserting a catheter, taking a urine sample, writing a prescription and finally adding a fee for a general office visit. I had thought all those things were part of the office visit. I protested. He reduced his charges, and I never went back.

When Doctors Own or Lease MRI, Back Scans and Surgery More Likely

HBNS STORY | April 26, 2011

When doctors can self-refer for MRI, patients are more apt to receive scans – and even surgery – for low back pain.

Serious Distress Linked to Higher Health Care Spending

HBNS STORY | May 12, 2011

Sufferers of serious psychological distress spend an average of $1,735 more on health care each year compared to those without the condition.

Health Insurance Doesn’t Always Protect People From Medical Debt

HBNS STORY | June 30, 2011

A new study confirms that having health insurance coverage is no guarantee against accumulating medical debt for working-age adults.

'Is a Cheaper, Effective Option Available?' An Important Question to Ask

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 18, 2011 | Conversation Continues

The Costs of Care blog, "Hidden Costs of Medication", reinforces the importance of asking, 'How expensive is this treatment?" and "Is a less expensive option available?'

Guest Blog: Niseritide, the 'Lost Decade', and the Pinto

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 21, 2011 | Patricia Salber

Eric Topol, MD wrote an interesting commentary in the July 7, 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, titled 'The Lost Decade of Nesiritide.' Nesiritide is a drug for heart failure symptoms (e.g., shortness of breath) that was approved by the FDA in 2001. Since that time, according to Dr. Topol, 'well more than $1 Billion was wasted on purchasing the drug.'

When the Insurance Company Says 'No'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 12, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

Blue Cross just advised a twenty-six-year old woman I know that it will cut off payments for the physical therapy that was making it possible for her to sit at a keyboard for eleven hours a day. Her thirty sessions were up.

Turning 65: A Medicare Snafu

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 13, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

I didn't expect to write a sequel to my seven-part series about signing up for Medicare. Just when I thought I was on the program, and all was fine, it wasn't. After I submitted two bills for routine exams, I learned Medicare would not cover them as my primary carrier. That threw me into a tizzy. All my years of reporting about the program taught me that once you retire Medicare is primary.

Connections Between Fiscal and Physical Health

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 20, 2011 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

The relationship between economic development and population health has been long documented the health of a nation's economy does impact the health of its individuals. In this case, the connection between one's financial health (foreclosure rates in particular) and one's physical/emotional health is looked at specifically.

Cigna's New Ad Campaign Aims to Snag New Customers

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 27, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

Cigna launched a $25 million 'GO YOU' national branding campaign last week signaling that they are gearing up for tons of new customers as health reform rolls towards 2014. That new business will come from the millions of Americans now uninsured who will start getting government subsidies as an encouragement to buy health insurance coverage.

Guest Blog: Price Tags and Haggling in an Exotic Market

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 29, 2011 | Daniela Carusi

While shopping in a market on an exotic trip, a friend of mine picked up an appealing item, but the price seemed high. When she paused to consider the purchase, the shopkeeper asked, 'Don't you want to know if I can do better?' But with health care, we can't predict what the final negotiated payment will be without knowing who is paying and what kind of bargaining position that person is in.

Cost of Care's 2nd Annual Essay Contest

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 30, 2011 | Inside Health Care

'The evidence says that there are ample opportunities to save money in our routine decision-making without compromising quality of care'We are not only asking for stories about unexpected medical bills or difficulty figuring out medical costs, but also asking for positive stories about ways doctors and patients have figured out to save money, while still delivering high value care'' - Neel Shah, MD.

Benefits of End-of-Life Planning

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 7, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Two new studies have found there are numerous benefits when people discuss their end-of-life preferences with their clinicians and caregivers.

Health Reform Loopholes

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 13, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

A couple weeks ago I walked the streets of Lincoln, Nebraska, talking to men and women about whether they thought Washington was listening to their economic concerns. Jeff Melichar manages his family's Phillips 66 gas station on the city's main street, and one of his big financial problems happens to be health insurance.

Health Reform's First Casualty

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 27, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

The Obama administration has dealt a mighty blow to one part of the health reform law by effectively killing off the CLASS Act, which was to be a baby step in the development of a national program to pay for long-term care.

Patient Engagement: Expert Trudy Lieberman Talks About Challenges

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 7, 2011 | Trudy Lieberman

This interview with Trudy Lieberman is the ninth and final of a series of brief chats between CFAH president and founder, Jessie Gruman and experts - our CFAH William Ziff Fellows - who have devoted their careers to understanding and encouraging people's engagement in their health and health care.

The Costs of Long-Term Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 14, 2011 | Conversation Continues

Does long-term care insurance have a future? In this roundup, Nancy Folbre, Don Taylor, and Trudy Lieberman offer their forecasts and perspectives on its costs.

What's the Price on That MRI? Patients and the Price of Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 23, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to speak as a patient about 'consumers and cost information' while being videotaped for use in the annual meeting of the Aligning Forces for Quality initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Here's what I had to say.

Using Physician Rating Websites

PREPARED PATIENT ARTICLE

New health review sites promise to help you make this important decision for yourself or your loved ones. However, patients and physicians alike are finding that these doctor reviews aren’t as transparent or useful as they might seem.

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Baby?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 24, 2012 | Kenny Lin

My wife and I are expecting our third child, and our new insurance plan requires us to pay 20% coinsurance for all non-preventive care. Given the rapid rate of health care inflation, we thought it prudent to find out how much it would cost this time around. So, we asked for an estimate of the charges. It seemed like a reasonable enough request'

The Price of Paperwork

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 26, 2012 | Inside Health Care

It's said that time is money. In this case, health care insiders argue that Americans and U.S. health insurers are spending too much of both.

Young Adults Taking the Health Care Reins

PREPARED PATIENT ARTICLE

Your parents still might be willing to do your laundry, but if you’re over 18, they can’t make your medical decisions. Are you ready to navigate the adult health care system?

Health Care's Curtain of Secrecy

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 14, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

I'm skeptical that price transparency about health services will make the health care market more competitive, more honest, or less dysfunctional. After all, health care simply does not work like other markets.

Even Small Increases in Copays Affect Use of Children's Healthcare

HBNS STORY | February 17, 2012

Increases in copayments of only a few dollars for ALL Kids, Alabama's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), led to declines in the use of several healthcare services for the children they affected, reveals a study in Health Services Research.

Costs of Care...and Coercion?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 28, 2012 | John Schumann

Nora, a third year medical student, came to me in moral distress. Ms. DiFazio, one of the hospitalized patients on her Internal Medicine rotation, was frightened to undergo an invasive (and expensive) medical procedure: cardiac catheterization.

Employee Wellness Programs Provide Significant Savings Over Time

HBNS STORY | March 6, 2012

Employees who participated in a health-improvement program had fewer medical costs than non-participants, according to a new report in the American Journal of Health Promotion. In addition, three year employer savings outpaced the program costs with a return on investment of almost $3 to $1.

What if Your Hotel Bill Was Like a Hospital Bill?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 6, 2012 | Conversation Continues

Health care costs are notoriously opaque, often leaving patients saddled with unexpectedly high bills and making it challenging for them to understand their expenses. To make matters more complicated, doctors, nurses and other caregivers are seldom in a position to understand how their decisions impact what patients pay for care.

Worried about the Cost and Quality of Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 29, 2012 | Conversation Continues

9 out of 10 sick people, (those with a serious illness, medical condition, injury or disability), are worried about the costs of medical care according to a new poll from RWJF/Harvard, 'What It's Like to be Sick in America'.

Guest Blog: High Health Cost Does Not Guarantee Quality

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 4, 2012 | Toni Brayer

The new buzzword in Medicine these days is "value based purchasing". It's not a new concept...everyone wants to get their money's worth, whether it is a new car, a meal at a fancy restaurant or the best medical care. Without clear information on quality, however, many patients assume that more expensive care is better care.

Guest Blog: How Much Does It Cost to Have an Appendectomy?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 7, 2012 | Kenny Lin

A few years ago, a good friend of mine who holds bachelor's and law degrees from Ivy League schools lost his job and became one of the estimated 50 million medically uninsured persons in the U.S. Over the course of several days, he developed increasingly severe abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting.

In the Dark on Costs of Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 2, 2012 | Conversation Continues

'If gas stations worked like health care, you wouldn't find out until the pump switched off whether you paid $3 or $30 a gallon." ' Consumer Reports

Doctors Who Share Patients May Provide Lower Cost Care

HBNS STORY | July 31, 2012

Patients with diabetes or congestive heart failure who receive care from doctors with high levels of patient overlap have lower total health care costs and lower rates of hospitalization, according to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

People with Few Assets Less Likely to Plan for End-of-Life Health Care

HBNS STORY | August 16, 2012

Socioeconomic status is a big predictor of how likely people are to have living wills, a power of attorney for health care decisions or to participate in informal discussions about treatment preferences with loved ones. People with few assets were half as likely as those of more means to plan for these end-of-life concerns, a new study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior finds.

Rising Cost of Inpatient Care Linked to Medical Devices and Supplies

HBNS STORY | August 29, 2012

Inpatient hospital treatment accounts for the largest proportion of health care spending in the U.S., with the use of diagnostic imaging services such as MRIs, frequently implicated as the probable cause. A new analysis in Health Services Research finds that the biggest expense may not be imaging technology but from supplies including medical devices, such as stents and artificial joints.

How Do We Know If the Price is Right (If We Can’t Find Out What the Price Is)?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 29, 2012 | Jessie Gruman

“Health care costs are sky-rocketing!” “The percentage of the U.S. GDP devoted to heath care costs is the highest in the world.” “The cost of Medicare is unsustainable.” For most of us, the cost of health care (i.e., the dollars required by the system to produce and deliver care) isn’t what brings us the most anxiety.

May I Please See the Prices on the Menu Before I Order?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 4, 2012 | Corey A. Siegel

I am embarrassed. I am a specialist taking care of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases...Until recently I thought I was doing a pretty good job at this. However, I've had an awakening that I've been ignoring an entire aspect of the patient's decision. The aspect of cost.

What the Next Fiscal Showdown Has to Do with Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 16, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

The New Year'??s Day deal between the White House and Republicans postponed the long-awaited debate over cutting Social Security and Medicare. But in the next few weeks, Beltway talk will again turn to slicing these interrelated social insurance programs.

Pay for Your Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Pay for Your Health Care

Seek insurance and manage the worrisome chores of arranging and paying for care.

Does the U.S. Get Value for Its Health Care Dollars?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 23, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

It’s hardly a secret that the U.S. is spending close to 18 percent of its GDP (or $8,362 per person) on health care — more than any other country. So it’s fair to ask exactly what we’re getting for our money.

Getting Your Operation at a Cut-Rate Surgery Center

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 29, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

Consumerism in health care is coming to mean patients must shop around for the best price — for a doctor’s visit, Cipro, health insurance and maybe even your next operation.

Buying Health Care from a Boutique

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 20, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

Somehow, I don’t think of money-back guarantees when I think about going to the doctor. Yet as textbook marketing principles creep into health care, a few medical providers are beginning to look like sellers of toothpaste and detergents.

Those Confusing EOBs…Once Again!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 27, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

Let’s face it. Despite all the rhetoric about health care transparency, most health care providers really don’t want patients to know the price of their products and services.

Making Seniors on Medicare Have More Skin in the Game

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 26, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

The movement is growing, it seems, for making people who rely on Medicare have more skin-in-the-game. In the minds of some, seniors and the disabled pay too little for their health care and their Medicare benefits…

Unwilling to Pay Extra for Wellness

HBNS STORY | April 9, 2013

Although most overweight adults agree that health insurance benefits designed to promote weight loss are a good idea, they don’t want to pay extra for them, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Health Care Consumers Are Compromised By Complex Information

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 4, 2013 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

Americans have embraced their role as consumers in virtually every aspect of life: making travel plans, trading stock, developing photos, and purchasing goods like cars and washing machines. That is, in every aspect of life but health care.

Alcohol and Mental Health Problems a Costly Combo for ICU Patients

HBNS STORY | April 16, 2013

People admitted to a hospital ICU with alcohol withdrawal were more likely to be readmitted or die within a year if they had a co-existing mental health condition, finds a new study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Smoke-Free Public Housing Would = Better Health and Savings

HBNS STORY | April 16, 2013

Establishing smoke-free policies for public housing would help protect residents, visitors and employees from the harmful effects of smoking and result in significant cost savings, reports a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

How the President’s Medicare Proposals Affect Seniors’ Pocketbooks

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 16, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

The president’s budget proposals released last week call for more seniors to pay more money for their Medicare benefits. While the president’s plan to require beneficiaries to pay higher premiums came as no surprise to Washington insiders, it probably was to people who will feel the pinch.

Credit Card Debt Leads Some to Skip Medical Care

HBNS STORY | April 25, 2013

People with outstanding credit card or medical debt were more likely to delay or avoid medical or dental care, finds a new study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Rehabilitating the Image of the Emergency Room

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 29, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

Maligned over the last decade as places to avoid because of the price of the care they delivered, last week’s release of a study by the RAND Corporation goes a long way toward improving the image of hospital emergency rooms.

Are Health Insurance Rates Going Up or Down — A Cautionary Tale?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 12, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

Will consumers buying coverage in the new state shopping exchanges find lower or higher rates? On one side are those who say the newly insured will see lower premiums for coverage.

It’s Medicare Versus Medical Supplier in Controlling Costs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 25, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

On July 1, Medicare begins a second round of competitive bidding for medical equipment and supplies, such as diabetes testing strips that beneficiaries use to check their blood sugar levels. There’s nothing remarkable about any of this except that the industry is fighting to make sure that competitive bidding does not happen...

Consumer-Directed Health Isn’t Always So Healthy

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 1, 2013 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

Giving health consumers more skin in the game doesn’t always lead to them making sound health decisions.

Haggling for Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 2, 2013 | Naomi Freundlich

I’m not a big fan of bargaining and my half-hearted attempts to get a better price for a used car, garage sale find or contractor’s service have been mostly unsuccessful. There’s always that nagging feeling that the seller is laughing with delight once I’m gone, thinking, “I really pulled one over on that rube!” And so it has come as somewhat of a shock to me that medical care has become the new garage sale, as far as haggling goes.

The Limits of Consumer Driven Health Care – A Trip to the Car Mechanic

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 8, 2013 | Davis Liu

As health care becomes increasingly unaffordable, many believe quality would improve and costs would decrease if we treated health care like other consumer-driven markets...If only that were true...

Unemployment Linked to Reduced Use of Preventive Health Care

HBNS STORY | July 23, 2013

Fluctuations in the unemployment rate affect people’s health care choices, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Being Your Own Advocate

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 2, 2013 | Angie Dresie

In 2010, I had surgery to remove a 2-inch heart tumor in my left atrium, the costs for which were astronomical, but that is not what I am writing about. I am writing about what happened in the months after my surgery and a cure that cost $9.19 if you don’t count all of the unnecessary doctor visits and procedures.

High Lifetime Costs for Type 2 Diabetes

HBNS STORY | August 8, 2013

A person with type 2 diabetes spends on average more than $85,000 treating the disease and its complications over their lifetime, according to a recent study in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The Cost of Missing Health Care Prices

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 12, 2013 | Conversation Continues

People continue to struggle finding information on how much health care services cost. Toni Brayer, Barbara Bronson Gray and Ray Burow weigh in.

Patient Centered Billing

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 19, 2013 | Beth Nash

My husband and I returned from a weekend away to find a message on our answering machine saying that we owed money to the hospital and that if we didn’t pay it within 10 days, they would send the bill to a collection agency.

The Consumer's Ongoing Dilemma: Making Sense of Hospital Prices

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 10, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

Hospital charges are essentially like car sticker prices. Insurers use them as a starting point to negotiate what they actually will pay providers on their policyholders' behalf.

Long-Term Care and Long-Term Care Insurance

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Plan for Your End-of-Life Care

Learn about long-term care and whether you need long-term care insurance.

Price Shopping Pharmacies Is the Key to Saving on Meds

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 12, 2013 | Ali Khoshnevis

Sumanah was a 26-year-old event planner in New York City when she was suddenly diagnosed with congestive heart failure. After learning that some pharmacies can be upwards of 16 times more expensive than others, Sumanah was able to price shop for the right pharmacy and save a lot on her prescription costs. You can too...

Paying for Prescription Medications

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Pay for Your Health Care

Prescription drugs can be expensive. Here’s how to get help paying for them and finding lower cost options.

How Much Will Your Health Care Cost?

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Pay for Your Health Care

It can be hard to figure out how much your health care will cost ahead of time. Here are some tips for preparing for the cost of your procedures.

What Are Medicare and Medicaid?

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Pay for Your Health Care

Learn more about the U.S. government’s health insurance programs for older adults and people with low-incomes and resources.

Getting Health Insurance

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Pay for Your Health Care

Don’t have health insurance? Here’s advice on how to find the right insurance for your needs.

How Do We Know If the Price Is Right (If We Can't Find Out What the Price Is)?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 18, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

For most of us, the "cost" of health care isn't what brings us the most anxiety. It's when we're patients or helping a loved one find care that so many of us are deeply concerned about the price of our health care: what we – personally, individually – pay to acquire the services, drugs and devices we need...

I Want My Doctor to Care About Costs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 1, 2013 | Sarah Jorgenson

In a lecture hall of fellow clinicians-to-be, I was told that my job as a physician is not to be concerned with costs but rather to treat patients. What an odd message. Does medicine's unique role of saving lives exempt it from keeping an eye on the register?

Beware of Claims That Patient Engagement Cuts Costs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 9, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

It's a widely accepted truism that increasing patient engagement in health care leads to lower costs and better outcomes. And really, it shouldn't be a problem to convince us to act on our own behalf and engage in the behaviors that support health, right? I see two problems with this viewpoint and with the assertion that patient engagement will lower the cost of health care...

Price Alone Is Not Enough: We Need Effectiveness Information Too

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 23, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

When price enters into examination room discussions, even straightforward recommendations can get complicated. How can you decide if the price of treatment is worth it if you don't understand why your clinician recommended this particular course of action?

My BlogTalkRadio Interview: Patient Engagement

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 30, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

Last week, I was interviewed by Dr. Pat Salber and Gregg Mastors on their BlogTalkRadio show, This Week in Health Innovation, about patient-centered care, patient engagement, shared decision making and the cost/quality trade-offs involved, and what all of this means for health care delivery.

Cuts to Local Health Departments Hurt Communities

HBNS STORY | November 14, 2013

A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that many local health departments aren’t able to meet goals to increase health care access.

The Costs of Being a Patient and a Doctor

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 19, 2013 | Jane Liu

My ultrasound came back "likely benign" with the recommendation that I follow up in six weeks to be sure. Over the next few weeks, I received one bill after another that totaled $1,000. Unable to pay, I felt abandoned by the system to which I had committed my career and did not call to schedule a second ultrasound...

Where, Oh Where Are Those Insurance Summaries for Consumers?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 3, 2013 | Trudy Lieberman

Buying health insurance through the state shopping exchanges was supposed to be a breeze — like buying an airline ticket from Travelocity. But it isn’t, and the reason why has nothing to do with the technical glitches of HealthCare.gov...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 1): Getting Covered

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 23, 2013 | CFAH Staff

In part one of our series, we look at the basics of picking a health insurance plan that's right for you, your family or a loved one. Our 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources can help you find the best coverage at the best price for your health needs...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 2): Medicare and Medicaid Explained

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 24, 2013 | CFAH Staff

In part two of our series, we look at the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. Our 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources can help you figure out if you qualify for either of these or other special health care programs...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 4): How Much Will Health Care Services Cost?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 26, 2013 | CFAH Staff

In part four of our series, we look at a few ways to estimate the cost of your care ahead of time so you can make the best choice for you and your loved ones. Our 'Be a Prepared Patient' resources offer trusted websites and tips to get started...

More Funding for Community Health Centers Improves Access to Care

HBNS STORY | January 2, 2014

Increased federal funding for community health centers has helped low-income adults get access to primary and dental care, according to a new study in Health Services Research.

Hospitals Serving Elderly Poor More Likely to Be Penalized for Readmissions

HBNS STORY | January 7, 2014

Hospitals that treat more poor seniors who are on both Medicaid and Medicare tend to have higher rates of readmissions, triggering costly penalties, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Why Does Our Health Care Cost So Much?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 8, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

We know that the U.S. has the most expensive health care in the world. But beyond noting that dubious achievement, we seldom ask why...

Finding the Price of Health Care Services Remains Elusive

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 9, 2014 | CFAH Staff

It's unfair to advise people to find out the price of a treatment when the price-transparency deck is stacked against them. So who will help patients find reliable price information and (hopefully) bring down the cost of care?

Tiered Insurance Networks: Complicating Obamacare or Controlling Costs?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 21, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Last fall, a Pennsylvania woman, frustrated by the snags and snafus of healthcare.gov, turned to the website of Independence Blue Cross, the biggest insurance carrier in Southeastern Pennsylvania, to make sense of her health insurance choices...

Do Patients Care How Much Money Their Doctors Make?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 28, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

I am all for transparency when it comes to health care. So when Medicare announced a few weeks ago that it would begin to tell the public how much doctors are paid to treat Medicare patients, my first thought was "hooray." Still, I keep returning to the question: What will the data do for the average person?...

N=1: My Experience With Cost, Care and Insurance

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 3, 2014 | Robert Fogerty

During my senior year in college, with medical school acceptance letter in hand, I was diagnosed with metastatic testicular cancer. Early in my treatment I received a letter that my health insurance had been exhausted and I would no longer receive any health benefits. Needless to say, this was a problem...

Why Low-Income Seniors Fail to Get Help Paying for Health Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 11, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

A couple weeks ago, the Medicare Rights Center, a well-known New York-based advocacy group, released a report card showing that seniors on Medicare are struggling to pay for their health care. This finding brings up an important question: Why aren't seniors using the variety of state and federal programs that have been set up to help people in this situation?

Patients Unlikely to Deliver on the Promise of Price Transparency

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 19, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

The idea that knowing the price of our care will encourage us to act like wise consumers is a hugely popular topic on blogs, in editorials and in the news. But relying on access to price information to drive changes in our health care choices is full of false promises to both us and to those who think that by merely knowing the price, we will choose cheaper, better care...

'Me' Versus 'We' in Obamacare

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 25, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

The Obama administration and Affordable Care Act supporters have not bothered to explain how the law includes cross-subsidization, missing an opportunity to talk about the "we" aspects of the law. As one 58-year-old woman put it: "The chances of me having a child at this age is zero. Why do I have to pay an additional $5,000 a year for coverage that I will never, ever need?" Here's how it works...

Obamacare Websites: Not Just a .Gov Problem

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 4, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Shoppers searching the Internet for health insurance coverage can be forgiven if they are confused.

Patients Are Loyal to Their Doctors, Despite Performance Scores

HBNS STORY | March 11, 2014

Patients with an existing relationship with a doctor ranked as lower performing were no more likely to switch doctors than patients with higher performing doctors, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Look Who's Coming Between You and Your Doctor

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 11, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Opponents of health care reform, especially those who resist moving to a single payer system like Canada’s, have often used a very powerful argument to sway public opinion. Any significant changes, they warn, to America's private insurance system would mean that the government will come between patients and their doctors by making decisions about the care Americans receive. But what if it's not the government that is inserting itself between you and your doctor?

Cost of Health Care a Burden for Most U.S. Households

HBNS STORY | March 13, 2014

Since 2001, health care costs have become more burdensome for almost all Americans, at every income level and in every geographic area, finds a new study published in The Milbank Quarterly.

Is a Daily Dose of Many Pills in Your Future?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 17, 2014 | Andrew Schorr

I recently had breakfast with an aging cousin, Walter, who has become infirm in his senior years. I knew he had several doctors and took medicine. It wasn't until breakfast time, however, that I realized how many medicines Walter took – and I was bowled over...

The Dilemma of Canceled Insurance Policies

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 18, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

By now it's hardly a secret that insurance companies have canceled the policies of millions of Americans whose old coverage did not comply with new benefit requirements of the Affordable Care Act. But after hearing all the backlash and requiring people to buy newer and, in the eyes of ACA supporters, better policies, the administration took another U-turn and changed the rules once again...

Costs Complicated Dad's Cancer Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 31, 2014 | Laura Sander

"I walked in a person, and out a cancer patient," my dad said as we filed home. Crossing this threshold, we found ourselves on the other side of medicine – the side on the exam table or gurney, as opposed to the one standing over it. In time, it became clear we were running out of money...

The Medicaid Gap Hits Home

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 8, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

A few days before the recent deadline for Obamacare sign-ups, I visited with one of the exchange navigators in Colorado, a state that expanded its Medicaid program and is working hard to enroll uninsured residents. This visit got me thinking of the millions of other people who live in states where they can't get access to Obamacare because they are too poor and yet are also not eligible for Medicaid...

Community Demographics Linked to Hospital Readmissions

HBNS STORY | April 10, 2014

Nearly 60 percent of the variation in hospital readmission rates appears to be associated with a hospital’s geographic location, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Co-Insurance for Medications: A Troubling Trend for Consumers

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 14, 2014 | Ali Khoshnevis

As the health care system changes in the coming years, one particular trend that will negatively impact consumers' out-of-pocket costs is the use of co-insurance (instead of a co-pay) for expensive specialty medications. Approximately 57 million Americans rely on these drugs to maintain their health, and it is disheartening to learn that many people are suffering because their medications have become too expensive...

Blacks with Financial Worries Have Lower Health Scores

HBNS STORY | April 15, 2014

Black adults who reported feeling more financial strain also rated their health more poorly than those with less financial strain, finds a new study in the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Misunderstanding Health Insurance Leads Some to Overspend

HBNS STORY | May 1, 2014

Uninsured adults who didn't understand health insurance tended to have trouble selecting plans that aligned with their stated needs and spent more money, finds a study in Health Services Research.

Obese Employees Cost Employers Thousands in Extra Medical Costs

HBNS STORY | May 13, 2014

A new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion finds that, on average, a morbidly obese employee costs an employer over $4,000 more per year in health care and related costs than an employee who is of normal weight.

A Doctor's Strategies Helped Mom Pay for Meds

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 19, 2014 | Narine Wandrey

Bewildered, panicked and disheartened, I watched my mother's eyes dart back and forth as she read the pharmacy's prescription cash price list, knowing she could not possibly afford her monthly medicines. We drove home, not saying a word, but I knew she was deeply distraught. When we arrived, she began cutting each tiny elliptical or rounded tablet into halves and quarters...

Not So Easy to Stop Care When the Patient Is a Loved One

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 16, 2014 | Margaret Polaneczky

To those of us who have had a loved one succumb to cancer, who had to negotiate the frightening choice between the rock and the hard place, always holding out hope for another round of chemo...we know that reining in health care costs will mean more than just raising co-pays and lowering drug costs and funding more effective interventions. It will also mean quashing hope. And learning to tell ourselves the truth...

Pushing Back Against the High Price of Prescriptions

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 17, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Are we finally doing something about the high prices of prescription drugs? Maybe. At the end of May, the Washington-based National Coalition on Health Care launched "Sustainable Rx Pricing," a campaign to "spark a national dialogue" about the high cost of drugs. Will it work?

Class and Insurance Stigma Are Barriers to Good Health Care

HBNS STORY | June 19, 2014

Some low-income, uninsured and Medicaid patients report feeling stigma when interacting with health care providers, finds a new report in The Milbank Quarterly.

Beware Those 'Average' Premium Increases – or Decreases!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 24, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Never before have I seen such intense interest from the press about health insurance rates, normally considered a snoozer of a story. For the public, this may be a good thing. If the stories are done well, consumers might learn something about the mix of factors that go into determining the premiums they will pay. But in the last couple of weeks, some stories have been downright misleading...

Seamless Health Insurance Coverage Still Illusory

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 30, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

For ages we've all known that the U.S. health insurance system works splendidly for those who have good employer-provided coverage, slide smoothly into Medicare when the time comes and seldom get sick. But evidence is beginning to trickle in that this seamless pathway for some people who've signed up for Obamacare insurance may be more illusory than real...

Stop the War on the Emergency Room (Fix the System Failure)

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 8, 2014 | Nick Dawson

The ED is convenient, it's open 24 hours, it does not require an appointment. So when the stomach bug or kitchen accident gets the best of you at 9:00 pm, and your doctor's office is closed, where are you going to go? And, yet, we still chide people – via reporting, casual comments and the communication of health systems – for using the ED for "non-emergent" needs. What I'd like to see is more hospitals flinging open the doors of their EDs and saying, "We'll take you, any time, for any reason, and you won't wait long or pay an arm and a leg"...

What's Wrong With Health Insurance Policies That Cover Less?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 9, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

Insurance companies and a group of senators headed by Alaska Democrat Mark Begich think they have a great idea for getting more young people to sign up for health insurance...

Early Palliative Care Cuts Costs for Critically Ill Patients

HBNS STORY | July 10, 2014

Palliative care delivered early during hospitalization can help cut costs for critically ill patients, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Program Saves Lives

HBNS STORY | July 15, 2014

A federal screening program markedly reduced death and illness from cervical cancer in underserved, low-income women but reached just 10 percent of the likely eligible population, finds a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Ingenious Hospitals Find a New Way to Snag Patients

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 29, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

A mother takes her teenage son to an urgent care center that is part of her insurance plan's network. A clerk quickly refers him to the emergency room, across the street, which just happens to be part of the same hospital system as the urgent care center. Is this UCC sending some patients to its related hospital ER, clearly a place of high-priced care, to gin up revenue for the system's bottom line?...

Patient-Centered Medical Homes Reduce Costs

HBNS STORY | July 31, 2014

As the number of patient centered medical homes has increased, a new report in the journal Health Services Research finds the model offers a promising option to reduce health care costs and utilization of some health care services.

Medicare Changes Lower Hospital Use

HBNS STORY | August 5, 2014

A recent study in Health Services Research based on 15 years of hospital data suggests that cuts in Medicare prices under the Affordable Care Act may slow the growth in overall hospital spending.

Self-Reported Health Information Predicts High-Need Medicaid Patients

HBNS STORY | August 19, 2014

Just three types of simple self-reported health measures can predict which Medicaid-eligible adults are more likely to access intensive and costly health services over the next year, a new study in Health Services Research suggests.

An Advantage for Medicare Patients or Just for Health Plans?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 20, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

That the government overpays sellers of Medicare Advantage plans is well known in Beltway circles, even if much of the public remains unaware…

Poor Health Habits Linked to Financial Insecurity

HBNS STORY | September 4, 2014

Financial hardship, or feeling that one can’t make ends meet, may be more predictive of health risk behaviors than actual income levels for people with low-incomes, finds a recent study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

The Harm to Patients From Two-Tiered Generic Drugs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 24, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

As we head into health insurance enrollment season, which opens in November, consumers/patients will face yet another challenge in selecting the best health plan...

Expanding Medicaid Increases Rural Health Care Access and Use

HBNS STORY | October 2, 2014

A new study in Health Services Research reveals that expanding Medicaid to cover more adults boosts health care access and use in rural populations.

Who Chooses the Medicines You Get – Your Doctor or Your Insurance Plan?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 8, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

A friend of mine suddenly learned the importance of patient engagement a few weeks ago when a matter affecting his pocketbook grabbed his attention. For the last several years the mantra has been "buy generics" as a way to lower the cost of drugs for consumers but also for the nation. For a while insurers did that. Not anymore...

Shopping for a Medicare Advantage Plan — Once Again!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 15, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

I have just done something I said I would never do: shop for a Medicare Advantage plan to cover my gaps in Medicare. The usual flyers and brochures from sellers of Medicare Advantage plans began to arrive in the mail with their enticing sales pitches, and one nearly fooled me. Short of having a Medicare representative on the phone, you're stuck in an information swamp. No wonder studies show that beneficiaries are not eager to shop around even if they can get a new policy with a smaller monthly premium...

Fecal Blood Test May Save More Lives Than Colonoscopy

HBNS STORY | October 21, 2014

Colorectal cancer, or CRC, is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. State public health programs could screen nearly eight times as many individuals and prevent nearly twice as many CRC cases by using fecal immunochemical testing, or FIT, instead of colonoscopies, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

A Patient's Perspective on the High Cost of Cancer Drugs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 21, 2014 | Andrew Schorr

Many cancer therapies now cost over $100,000 a year. Obviously, this expenditure is not sustainable for the majority of patients. At age 64, I am approaching Medicare coverage. Will I have the 20 percent co-pay to shoulder? As more people survive cancer and remain on ongoing medicines, the U.S. has to have a fair and open discussion about the cost of these medicines...

A Difficult Pill to Swallow

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 17, 2014 | Brandon Kopper

I am a pharmacy student and was recently sent home with a prescription to treat a very painful earache. I do not recall the name of the medication, but I do remember my reaction when I went to pick it up. I was shocked that the drug would cost me over two hundred dollars! I could not afford the medication, so I went home without it...

The Canadian Doctor Who Prescribes Income to Treat Poverty

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 19, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

The first blog post I wrote about a Canadian doctor who was "diagnosing poverty" received more than 3,000 hits. I wanted to circle back to see whether or not the program had taken root. Indeed it has. "It's been a wildfire effect," Dr. Gary Bloch told me. Why can't the U.S. follow suit?...

Taking Risks With Needed Drugs Due to High Cost

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 8, 2014 | Ginger Skinner

More than 44 percent of Americans regularly take a prescription drug. And according to the 2013 Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs Prescription Drug Tracking Poll, 57 percent of people reported taking steps in the last year – some of them potentially dangerous – to curb high medication costs: not filling a prescription, skipping a scheduled dose, and taking an expired medication. Why? And what can be done to help?