Posts Tagged ‘healthcare costs’



Heading to Belgium to Save More Than a Few (Healthcare) Bucks

August 6th, 2013
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What does that tell us about consumerism in healthcare?
Reading Sunday’s New York Times article, “For Medical Tourists, A Simple Math,” I was struck both by the reporting of drastic price differences between surgical procedures here and in Europe (Belgium, in this case) and the subsequent interest the article generated. Upon reviewing comments from readers, I noticed that most indicated that they were more than willing to travel overseas to find high quality – but cheaper – health services. And, in general, there was much broader interest in health service costs than in the past. I got the distinct impression that customers are “tuned in.”
 
We’ve discussed the evolving role of patients as consumers, and clearly prices may start to become transparent (or at least comparable) enough for true consumer market power to chip away at healthcare costs. The article profiles an American who compared hip replacement surgery options in Belgium and the United States: Belgium won the contest with a cost of $13,660, versus $78,000 on this side of the Atlantic. At that differential, and with rising co-pays and self-insurance, many among us would be willing to catch a flight across the ocean. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can Digital Health Technology Be Part of the Secret to a Long and Healthy Life?

July 12th, 2013
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A comprehensive study of American lifespans and health published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, which has received much media coverage, shows that while Americans are living longer, those extra years are less healthy when compared to older people in other industrialized countries.
 
While the report notes that certain diseases, like strokes, colon and breast cancer, and AIDS, have seen decreases in incidence, most of the conditions leading to increased cost of healthcare (namely, obesity and its associated co-morbidities cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and asthma) are increasing, and can be prevented with behavior and lifestyle changes, earlier intervention and better management. But clearly, that prevention isn’t happening.
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New WellPoint Plan Increases Healthcare Consumer’s Level of “Skin in the Game”

July 9th, 2013
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When Warren Buffett used the phrase “skin in the game,” he referred to company managers investing in their own companies. In healthcare, we’ve discussed how equally important it is for consumers to also have some “skin in the game,” bearing at least some responsibility for their costs of care.
 
A recent Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) discusses how WellPoint, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, has developed a group plan in which consumers would be responsible for the cost of medical services in excess of that offered by their employer plans. While WellPoint’s idea doesn’t appear groundbreaking at first, this type of plan would dramatically shift the dynamics of healthcare costs.
 
Here is how the Journal’s Anna Wilde Matthews described the WellPoint plan:
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Medicare’s Data Release Places More Power in Hands of Informed Medical Consumers

May 8th, 2013
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Today, Medicare is releasing data on in-patient hospital costs across the country to provide consumers/patients with cost comparison information. Unsurprisingly, the data are interesting and price discrepancies staggering, but the release of the data itself is also fascinating as yet another example of big government opening its vaults, so to speak, as well as adding more momentum to the power shift in healthcare from physicians/providers toward consumers/patients.
 
This move clearly speaks to the idea that access to information can drive behavior/decision making and that access to cost information can harness the power of the medical consumer to drive costs down.
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Health IT’s Sharpening Focus: Calibrating Health Care

September 19th, 2012
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Sometimes the state of healthcare seems more like the movie “Snakes on a Plane” rather than the symbol of the serpent entwined on the Rod of Asclepius (the Greek god associated with healing and medicine). The movie title alone conjures pretty frightening images. The good news is that the rising numbers for healthcare investment, information technology spending, and consumer behavior related to their healthcare choices reveal a course change that’s not reptilian at all: 

  • According to a recent report in MedCity News, healthcare spending on telecommunications will outpace overall healthcare industry growth rates—climbing to $14.4 billion by 2017, at an annual growth rate of 10 percent.
  • Venture capitalists and incubators are researching both life sciences companies and IT companies—they could create matches between life science innovators and IT to spur more digital health innovations.
  • Improved networks and information technology are allowing providers to leverage their traditional medical care resources (e.g., hospitals, clinics, equipment) across a larger base of remote patients. These networks and electronic health records (EHR) will allow collaboration among clinicians, care teams, patients and provider organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

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