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A doctor writes: Price transparency, a Rosetta stone

Posted by on May 24, 2015
cost of cancer care

Dr. Robert Fogerty

Summary: This essay by Dr. Robert Fogerty, an assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine, appeared originally in MedPage Today, where it launched our pricing transparency partnership with MedPage Today. Re-posted with permission.

By Robert Fogerty MD

I tossed and turned during many sleepless nights as a cancer patient. Some nights from nausea, some from pain. Some from sadness, some even from being cold without hair. There were nights where I feared my next surgery or next treatment. Nights fretting about the scan or blood work — had it spread? Would I see my graduation in 3 months? These are all predictable and were largely understood by those around me.

 


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Hospital financial aid: She was uninsured, with appendicitis

Posted by on May 23, 2015

Doctors in surgery

Summary: She  had spent a week in pain on the floor, curled up in a ball and crying, willing herself to believe her stomach hurt because she had the flu and unwilling to go to the hospital, partly because she was uninsured. Then her mom took her to the hospital, and that was the beginning of a rough ride through the health care system.

 


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Healthcare too costly? Don’t fear telling your doctor: LA Times

Posted by on May 23, 2015

Summary: Being sick is hard enough, but talking about money with your providers while you’re sick is even harder. One of our goals here at ClearHealthCosts.com is to bring the money conversation out of the shadows, so we were interested in a recent survey about people’s attitudes on the topic.

 


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Hospital quality ratings on high-volume procedures: U.S. News releases reports

Posted by on May 21, 2015

Summary: Good health-care quality data is hard to find, so when new information sets come on line, we get excited. Here’s new data from U.S. News and Word Report:  “Data on how well 4,600 U.S. hospitals perform on common elective surgeries like knee replacements, and on treating chronic health conditions like congestive heart failure were released Wednesday on a new consumer tool from U.S. News and World Report,” Modern Healthcare reports. 

 


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Birth control prices are a big topic of interest on weekend mornings

Posted by on May 17, 2015

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Summary: A lot of people are interested in birth-control prices on Saturday and Sunday mornings, according to the Web site analytics that tell us about our site. Common queries: how much do birth control pills cost;  how much does an abortion cost; how much does Depo-Provera cost. The chart at the top of this post shows our most popular pages on a Sunday morning.

 

 


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Drug Costs Top $50K A Year For Half Million Americans: Forbes

Posted by on May 14, 2015

Summary: “With the drug industry launching more expensive targeted therapies, the number of Americans with annual medication costs of more than $50,000 has jumped more than 60% to nearly 600,000, a new analysis shows,” Bruce Japsen writes at Forbes. “The latest drug spending trend report from pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts … shows 576,000 Americans with annual medication costs of $50,000 or more. That’s a 63% increase in 2014 from 2013 when 352,000 Americans had such high costs. While the number of patients with annual spending above $50,000 was just 0.2% of patients, the amount of drugs they and their health plans or employers paid for accounted for 16% of total spending, the analysis showed.” Drug Costs Top $50K A Year For Half Million Americans – Forbes.

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Hospital quality ratings: Ranking the rankings, at Health Affairs

Posted by on May 9, 2015

Summary: We still haven’t figured out quality metrics in health care. So we’re always interested to see when someone takes a different approach to the topic — in this case, ranking the rankings, in a recent article in Health Affairs and this follow-up.

 


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How people use our information: Readers write from the web

Posted by on May 8, 2015

medical bills

Summary: We are often asked “how do people use your information?” Here’s one way: I have blog post here on our site about colonoscopy prices that was also reposted on The Health Care Blog here. People often find that post via Google search, instead of finding our site, and they let us know what they think. We can see that a lot of people click on that post, and then click over to our site via the links. And they often comment. Here are some of the comments, including “Thank-you for this blog it has been very helpful.”

 


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Health prices are more transparent, and how patients use them: Reporting on Health

Posted by on May 7, 2015

Summary: “Patients and health care journalists have long called for greater transparency in the prices of health care, and several companies now provide that information for free. Clearhealthcosts.com, started by Jeanne Pinder, a former New York Times reporter, has built a searchable database of dozens of tests, procedures, and treatments and the prices charged by particular providers in selected metropolitan areas. Healthcare Blue Book and Fair Health are national databases of thousands of health services and procedures, with their prices searchable by zip code. Health insurers have begun providing similar online resources,” Susan Gilbert writes in “Reporting on Health” from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Schoool. “But do patients use this information? Two recent surveys found different answers. The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll in April, a random sample of 1,506 adults, found that only 6 percent had seen information on the prices of doctors and hospital stays in the previous year and that only 3 percent had used it before seeing a doctor and 2 percent before a checking into a hospital. But Public Agenda, in a survey of more than 2,000 adults, reported in March that 56 percent ‘actively looked’ for health care price information before getting care, ‘including 21 percent who have compared prices across multiple providers.’ ” Health care prices are more transparent, but patients might not be using the data,” Reporting on Health.

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A new $30 medical records fee from the doctor’s office

Posted by on May 5, 2015

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Summary: My former medical provider is instituting an annual $30 record-keeping fee. I’m no longer a patient there — they don’t take my insurance any more — but they notified me of the change anyway. Details on the jump. If you know of anyone else doing this, please let me know at info (at) clearhealthcosts (dot) com.

 


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