Chemo Costs in U.S. Driven Higher by Shift to Hospital Outpatient Facilities

A Kaiser Health News article noted: “The price of cancer drugs has doubled in the past decade, with the average brand-name cancer drug in the U.S. costing $10,000 for a month’s supply, up from $5,000 in 2003, according to a new report by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, a health information, services and technology company.”

“And those are just average prices; some drugs may cost as much as $30,000 a month.In Europe, where governments negotiate for national discounts, the list prices of cancer drugs are at least 20 to 40 percent lower than in the U.S., the report found.” Read more

Hospitals’ Purchase of Doctors Leads to Higher Prices, Spending, Study Finds

A Kaiser Health News article noted: “A new study gives ammunition to what health economists and health insurers have argued for years: When hospitals buy physician practices, the result is usually higher hospital prices and increased spending by privately insured patients.”

“The study, published … in the journal Health Affairs, was based on an analysis of 2.1 million hospital claims from workers of self-insured employers between 2001 and 2007.  The analysis by Stanford University researchers found prices were most likely to increase when hospitals bought physician practices, as opposed to hospitals forming looser contractual relationships with physicians.” Read more

The Costs of 10 Top Commercially Insured Readmission Conditions

A Becker Hospital Review article noted: “Of the 10 most common readmissions conditions for patients with private insurance, chemotherapy resulted in the highest costs for hospitals, according to an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality statistical brief.”

“Here are the costs of the 10 most common readmissions among the commercially insured, according to the AHRQ brief. Note: Costs were defined as the actual expenses incurred in the production of hospital services (such as wages, supplies and utility costs). A readmission was defined as a patient who was hospitalized within 30 days of a previous hospital admission. Read more

Hospitals Boost Patient Safety, but More Work Is Needed

A Kaiser Health News article noted: “Two major safety shortcomings in America’s hospitals—the frequency with which patients get hurt during their stays and the large number who are readmitted—have decreased as government penalties and other programs targeting them kick in.”

“The Obama administration credited the new quality initiatives created by the federal health law. But some of the improvements in patient safety preceded that law. Even with the improvements, one out of eight patients is injured during their time in the hospital.” Read more

Who Really Pays for Health Care? It Might Surprise You

A USA Today article noted: “Eight million people have signed up for subsidized private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, President Obama said this month. Millions more obtained new coverage through the Medicaid program for the poor. Full implementation of the health law and its wider coverage, new taxes and shifting subsidies have renewed discussions of winners and losers, makers and moochers”

“Here’s a corrective to common misconceptions about who pays for health care. Read more

Let’s Put Consumers in Charge of Health Care

A Harvard Business Review article noted: “The health care industry has been shielded from consumer pressure—by employers, insurers, and the government. As a result, costs have exploded as choices have narrowed.”

“There is a way out of this mess—if companies embrace a radical new treatment: consumer-driven health care. This new model places control over costs and care directly in the hands of employees by giving them more health-plan choices, greater control over what they spend on coverage, and more information for wiser choices.” Read more

Advice to Young Surgeons: What 7 Spine Surgeons Have Never Forgotten

The Becker’s Spine Review had “Seven spine surgeons talk about the best professional advice they have received during the course of their careers.”

Sheeraz Qureshi, MD, Chief, Spinal Trauma, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City: The best professional advice I ever received was to have strict indications for when to operate and when not to operate, and to make sure patients fully understand the goals of their treatment plan… .” Read more

Medicare’s $5 Billion Ambulance Tab Signals Area of Abuse

A Bloomberg article noted: “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified ambulance service as one of the biggest areas of overuse and abuse in Medicare — companies billing millions for trips by patients who can walk, sit, stand or even drive their own cars.”

“‘It’s a cash cow,’ said Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Leahy … ‘It’s basically like a taxi service except an extremely expensive one that the taxpayers are financing.’” Read more