The fiscal disaster of healthcare costs has a human toll

By Timothy Johnson, MD-Today, I come back to the tragedy of medical economics in this country. And I would apply that word “tragedy” in at least two ways. The first tragedy is that we are headed for fiscal disaster in this country because of healthcare costs. We now spend twice as much per person on healthcare as the average per person cost of all developed countries. During the past several decades, the inflation rate for healthcare costs has usually been two to three times the general inflation rate. Obviously, this level of healthcare cost increase cannot continue. It is, to … Continue reading

Post-Hospital Choice Can Save Medicare Billions

WASHINGTON — Directing Medicare beneficiaries into the most cost-efficient setting possible after a hospital stay could save the program $35 billion to $100 billion over the next decade, the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation, a home care trade association, reported Wednesday. “This isn’t a silver bullet to fix Medicare but it could make a difference,” Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) said at a press conference where the report was issued. “Better post-acute care leads to less frequent hospital readmissions, plain and simple.” Initial hospital visits and post-acute care account for about half of all Medicare spending, report author Al … Continue reading

4 essential elements of true health reform

TIMOTHY JOHNSON, MD, MPH | POLICY | DECEMBER 8, 2012 I recently said I would describe the essential elements of “true reform.” I realize others might add or subtract from my list, but here it is – at least for today: Payment reform. I put this first because no matter what form or structure healthcare takes, without payment reform it will be doomed to failure. And by “payment reform” I mean switching from the “fee for service” model I discussed in an earlier column – which basically pays more for doing more whether or not it is needed – to … Continue reading

Primary care doctors are set to lose more than half of their salary

By Matthew Mintz, MD-Fortunately, the 27% reduction in Medicare payments to physicians that is set to take place in a matter of weeks unless congress acts is getting some press. Fox News published a piece recently, as did the Washington Post. Writer Merrill Goozner breaks things down nicely in his article, “Is There a Doctor Fix in the House … and Senate?” However, one thing that seems to be getting confused in all the media reports is the difference between physician payments and physician salary. A doctor’s income is what he takes in (payments) minus expenses or overhead. Physician overhead … Continue reading

Medigap: What is it?

By Nikki Jong- Medigap is a supplemental insurance plan that was designed to cover the gaps in coverage left by Medicare. Unlike Medicare, however, Medigap is not a government-sponsored insurance program. It is sold through private insurance companies and you purchase the policy on your own. Federal and state regulation of Medigap helps keep it affordable and ensures that the individual policies offer standardized benefits. Because Medicare does not provide coverage for all health and medical expenses, Medigap policies are used to pay for expenses not covered by Medicare. In addition to paying for these expenses, you can also use … Continue reading