The fatal flaw, or poison pill, of our entire healthcare system … is we’ve tried to make it a system.

Robert Nelson MD of the Georgia Chapter, Free Market Medical Association, writes in:

The fatal flaw, or poison pill, of our entire healthcare system, is that we’ve tried in vane to make it a system.

We set aside everything we knew about human behavior and motivation and behavioral economics and pretended it didn’t exist. We based interventional policy on myths such Roemer’s Law. We tied it to employment by using the tax code. We handicapped markets with McCarran-Ferguson. We handicapped Physicians and other providers with HIPAA. We perverted insurance with all manner of mandate such that it violated every principle of what insurance is supposed to do. This has created Health insulation rather than health insurance.

Then the geniuses thought they can fix it with HMO and then PPOs and now ACOs and all the rest of the alphabet soup that they serve up. All of this has one thing in common and that is price opacity. We have not had a market failure we’ve had one giant pricing failure. We put healthcare on an island and treated it differently and treated it weirdly and regulated it excessively.

Many have gotten wealthy but patients are suffering and doctors are demoralized.

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EHR MU Meaningful Use Enters the Just Kidding Phase

Anthony Wunsch writes:

Well all, I have written many an article on the pitfalls fo EHR systems, cost versus reward, interoperability among providers from different systems and networks, time spent doing data entry rather than patient interaction. When first required this industry spent $450 billion to meet meaningful use requirements phase one, and created a $10 billion per year support need. And that was phase one which completely left out the actual medical care, then phase two came and they said oops we forgot some things, billions more wasted to update, and then phase three and now the just kidding phase.

It was technology introduced backwards, it went to market and used the end users as the beta tests. And as the financing mechanism for those beta test. Any other technology the developers would have funded the development and brought it to market after being perfected, (relative term for technology).

In the end the industry ate the cost and passed it on to patients in the form of higher costs, with not an ounce of evidence it was going to decrease cost or improve care.

And in the end the whole push was so we could move into population health management; please don’t get me started on that rant.

Top Four Reasons Insurance Companies Price Gouge Americans

1.  ObamaCare.

ACA regulations drive costs up and mandates punish those who try to say “no.”

2.  Hospital hidden pricing.

Insurers are complicit with hospitals in blocking patients from price shopping. Insurance CEOs want you to believe you need their product to avoid price gouging but often the opposite is true. Middlemen profit when no one knows the price.

3. Pharma costs.

Ubiquitous third-party payment keeps Rx prices (and premiums) soaring. And the PBM crony capitalists are blocking the pharmacist from telling you that the cash price is often lower than your insurance co-pay.

4. They can.

It’s time for patients and doctors to say “no” to the cartels and demand real options

The AMA is utter garbage. But, you knew that.

Here they go again. Once again the AMA is promoting what’s best for the big government / big insurance / big hospital cartel instead of advocating solutions that will truly empower patients, physicians, and increase access to high-quality, low-cost care.

The solution to healthcare is…

Most agree that we need a healthcare system that encourages people to take care of themselves and covers catastrophic injuries and disease for all people.

I trust the free-market more than government, and some trust the government more than the free market.

MACRA, ACA, HIPAA, HMO act, Medicare and Medicaid were supposed to reduce costs and expenditures. Obviously government only makes it all worse. Looks like a job for the freemarket!

Either way, whichever philosophical system is selected by the people, individuals must freedom of choice and bear their own responsibility to the extent that is humanly possible.

Craig M. Wax DO

CNBC reports:

Medical emergency: ER costs skyrocket, leaving patients in shock

  • Americans are being overcharged by more than $3 billion a year for ER services, according to data from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
  • Bills can be nearly 13 times the rates paid by Medicare for the same services.
  • Americans in the Southeast and Midwest, and poor and minority patients, are the most exploited by emergency-room billing practices, especially at for-profit hospitals.

Read full story:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/10/medical-emergency-er-costs-skyrocket-leaving-patients-in-shock.html

57 Million Seniors’ Medical Care Imperiled by Medicare Red Tape

Action is needed this weekend! Take advantage of an opportunity to cut through some of the bureaucratic red tape that imperils the medical care of 57 million seniors. Actually, the regulations in question harm not only Medicare patients, but also put “commercially insured patients and their data under the agency’s control,” explains Dr. Kris Held.

CMS is seeking comments from the public on proposed changes to MACRA rules to be implemented in 2018.

Tell CMS to further widen exemptions from MACRA overregulation for physicians and their patients.

Comments are due by 11:59pm Eastern Daylight Time, Monday, August 21, and can be submitted online at the following link:

https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=CMS-2017-0082-0002

Here’s an example of what you might say:

MACRA compliance is not compatible with patient-centered medical care. CMS must use all possible discretion authorized under law to free as many physicians as possible, and their patients, from this harmful overregulation. At the very least, practices with 15 physicians or fewer should be exempt from all MACRA penalties.

Additional details:

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released proposed changes to its so-called “Quality Payment Program” (QPP) rules for 2018. The QPP “implements provisions of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) related to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Advanced Alternative Payment Models (Advanced APMs).”

While initially created under the guise of increasing “quality” and “value,” in practice the program attempts to coerce doctors to comply with cookbook medicine and government rationing protocols while at the same time compromising patient privacy.

Fortunately, there are some new faces at CMS who understand the danger of this program and a few helpful changes have been proposed; however the changes don’t go nearly far enough. We are asking CMS to use all possible authority to lessen the burden on patients and physicians.

AAPS is not alone in calling for these needed changes. The Editorial Director of Medical Economics has called on CMS to “Exempt all small practices from the program. … Smaller practices shouldn’t have to play the same game as the larger practices they already compete against every single day when it comes to things like patients, resources and payer influence. Don’t make the alleged ‘failures’ of small practices fund larger practice payment bonuses.”

Please submit your comments to CMS on this crucial issue before the Monday deadline.

Thank you for your help!

~AAPS

For the full proposed rule see:

https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=CMS-2017-0082-0002

And the CMS fact sheet on the changes is available at:

https://qpp.cms.gov/docs/QPP_Proposed_Rule_for_QPP_Year_2.pdf

Opaque Transparency?

Lack of price transparency is one of the biggest problems plaguing American patients and well-intentioned state legislators are now taking a stab legislative fixes.

But is a government mandate the right approach? Dr. Keith Smith, for one, warns that it isn’t.  Here’s a recent example of just what can go wrong.

In one state, Ohio, the legislature passed a law now known as Ohio Revised Statute 5162.80, which has misdiagnosed the disease and has prescribed an ineffective and even potentially harmful cure, particularly for patients tied to an “insurance” plan.

On it’s face the bill seems straightforward: doctors and hospitals must give patients good faith estimates for charges and payments. Who could be opposed to that?

The devil is in the details, particularly in this section of the law:

A provider of medical services shall provide in writing before care is rendered: “The amount the health plan issuer intends to pay for the product, service, or procedure…”

Anyone who has ever tried to get an insurance company to divulge its contracted rates with providers prior to receiving care knows all too well what a herculean task it is.

To their credit, the bill’s authors included a provision to address this problem:

“Any health plan issuer contacted by a provider … shall provide such information to the provider within a reasonable time of the provider’s request.”

Again this looks like a reasonable provision at first glance, but it is really non-transparent transparency and worse could lead to delays in care.

Why should a patient have to contact a physician or facility to find out what his or her insurance plan will pay? This is in reality erecting a barrier between the patient and finding out what the actual costs for care will be at any given doctor or facility. It blocks meaningfully shopping for the best price.

We are not recommending government mandates, but  a more effective requirement might be to demand that the insurers release ALL of their reimbursement rates, both in network and out-of-network, in a transparent manner so that everyone, particularly patients enrolled in a plan, can easily see how much the insurer would pay paying before a patient even sets foot in a doctors office.

The bill as written only requires that the insurers divulge the info on a case by case basis to the “provider.” Why not also to the patient? After all the patient is at least purportedly the actual customer of the insurance company.

As Dr. Michel Accad explains, price opaqueness is a symptom of larger problem, pervasive third-party-payment, and not in itself the root cause.

In a free and competitive healthcare market, price transparency would rarely be an issue, as it is not an issue in the market for cell phones and bubble gum.  Doctors and hospitals could not survive without being upfront about fees.  But, in its great wisdom, and supported by the sound logic of healthcare analysts and healthcare economists, the government has ensured—through its tampering with and participation in health insurance—that charges would be as opaque as possible.

As demonstrated by free market facilities like the Surgery Center of Oklahoma — who post their actual prices not fictitious chargemaster rates — the ultimate solution to not only price transparency, but increasing access to high quality, low cost care, is to kick out the middlemen driving up and obscuring the prices.