Consumer Group Urges Hospitals to Stop Promoting Questionable Screenings

The Kaiser Health News article noted “Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen… called on 20 hospital systems to stop partnering with companies that offer low-cost screenings for heart disease and stroke risk, saying the promotions are ‘unethical’ and the exams are more likely to do harm than good.”

“In recent years, more hospitals have paired with firms offering such testing packages, partly to build community goodwill and referrals. Hospitals say residents benefit from the testing packages, which can cost less than $150, because some will discover they are at higher risk for heart problems or stroke early enough to take steps to reduce their risks.”

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The New Old Age: When Advance Directives Are Ignored

The New York Times article noted: “Calling 911 can cause particular problems … Emergency medical personnel want orders … Nothing else has been shown to be effective.”

“Health care professionals, ethicists and advocates continually urge older people to document their preferences about end-of-life medical decisions, and a growing proportion do. A recent large national study, tracking more than 6,000 people over age 60 who died between 2000 and 2010, found that the proportion with advance directives climbed to 72 percent from 47 percent.”

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How Much Will That MRI Cost? Patients Often in the Dark

The Connecticut Mirror article noted : “Many patients now have insurance plans that require them to pay a portion of their medical bills. But finding out what their care will cost remains difficult.”

“Because her family’s health insurance plan has a $10,000 deductible, Sue Haynie tries to watch what they spend on medical care and figure out what it will cost ahead of time. But that’s easier said than done, she’s found. There was the time her daughter needed to see a doctor about a lingering sore throat. Haynie wondered how she’d know the cost of any tests the doctor performed, so she asked her insurer, Aetna. Haynie said the representative suggested two options: Ask the doctor’s office to call Aetna and find out, or leave the appointment after finding out what tests the doctor recommends, price out the tests, and — if she decided they’re worth it — go back for another appointment to have the tests done. Haynie chose the first option, so when her daughter went to the appointment, she asked the office staff to call Aetna. But Haynie said she was told they didn’t have time to do so, and that if Haynie wouldn’t pay the bill, her daughter could be pulled out of the visit.”

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How to (Try to) Find out What Your Medical Care Will Cost

The Connecticut Mirror article noted: “Want to know how much a medical procedure is going to cost? Experts say it’s not easy. But if you try, there are some things that you should know.”

“Here are few places to look, based on the recommendations of Connecticut and national experts.”

  1. Ask your insurance company. But be sure you have the right information first.
  2. Ask your health care provider.
  3. For an estimate, look at online tools like FAIR Health and Health Care Blue Book.
  4. Another approach: Know the worst-case scenario.
  5. Know the limits of price information.

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Most Patients Are Confused by Their Medical Bills, Survey Finds

The Becker Hospital Review article noted: “A recent survey by TransUnion Healthcare has found the majority (54 percent) of insured consumers are either sometimes or always confused by their medical bills.”

“The survey made several findings concerning price transparency. The survey found 63 percent of survey respondents want to know the full cost of care, including their insurance company’s portion, while 35 percent said they only cared about their direct medical costs. The survey also found 62 percent of survey respondents were either sometimes or always surprised by their out-of-pocket medical costs.”

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Your Doctor Knows You’re Killing Yourself. The Data Brokers Told Her

The Bloomberg article noted “You may soon get a call from your doctor if you’ve let your gym membership lapse, made a habit of picking up candy bars at the check-out counter or begin shopping at plus-sized stores.”

“That’s because some hospitals are starting to use detailed consumer data to create profiles on current and potential patients to identify those most likely to get sick, so the hospitals can intervene before they do.”

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“…Physicians Believe That Fellow Doctors Prescribe an Unnecessary Test or Procedure…”

The Kaiser Health News article noted “The most frequent reasons that physicians order extraneous—and costly—medical care are fears of being sued, impulses to be extra careful and desires to reassure their own assessments of the patient…”

“… Choosing Wisely, a two-year old campaign devised by a foundation created by internal medicine doctors … has persuaded nearly 60 medical societies to identify overused tests and procedures. The goal is to cut back on needless medical care, which by some estimates may waste a third of the $2.8 trillion the country spends on health each year.”

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Hospital Runs Ad for $1,995 Colonoscopies in Sunday Newspaper

The Becker Hospital Review article reported “A hospital in New Hampshire is garnering some attention after it advertised its colonoscopies for a flat rate in the Sunday newspaper.”

“Elliot Hospital in Manchester, N.H., is using CareBundles to set all-inclusive fees for colonoscopies, hernia repair ($4,995) and knee arthroscopy ($5,995), according to a New Hampshire Public Radio report. Only the uninsured can get these set-price procedures for now, although the hospital is hoping to launch relationships with employers.”

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