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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?

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?...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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…

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?...

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...

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"...

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...

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...

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?

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 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...

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...

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?

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.

'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...

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...

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?

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...

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?...

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...

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?

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...

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...

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 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...

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...

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...

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.

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?

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...

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?

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...

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...

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.

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 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.

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.

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...

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.

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.

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...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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…

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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'.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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'

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.'

'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?'

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Chicago Doctor Reveals Hidden Health Care Pricing'.
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 22, 2010 | Trudy Lieberman

Paying to Participate
PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 14, 2010 | Goldie Pyka

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?

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.

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.