Summary: What does our community love most about us? Our search tools, and our “how much does a … cost?” blog posts. Here’s a chart showing our biggest hits for the last 90 days. Click on the link to see the post. What’s not visible here: Links to our crowdsourcing partnerships, like this one from KQED public radio in San Francisco, this one from KPCC public radio in Los Angeles, and this one from WHYY public radio in Philadelphia. You might also be intrested in knowing how people use our information.
Your Source for Finding Health Care Prices
Cash or self-pay prices. Our metro areas: NYC, SF, LA, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston,
San Antonio, Austin. Others soon!
Summary: Here comes the Cadillac tax, and one place where it will be meaningful is in the auto industry, as Investor’s Business Daily points out: “The four-year contract that GM, Fiat Chrysler and Ford (NYSE:F) will hammer out with the UAW will cover the beginning of the so-called Cadillac tax, an ObamaCare provision that goes into effect in 2018. A 40% excise tax will be levied on health insurers for plans that exceed certain cost thresholds: $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. The insurers will likely pass on Cadillac tax costs to employers, who will then split it with workers. The U.S. auto industry is looking at a hefty tab. According to the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), the average package for individuals at GM, Ford and Chrysler costs $16,000. ‘Health care is a third rail for UAW workers,’ said Kristin Dziczek, CAR’s assistant research director. ‘If automakers came back and said, “We want you to pay more,” that could be a deal breaker.’ ” Source: Cadillac Tax, Tiered Wages To Steer Auto Union Talks GM F FCAU – Investors.com
Summary: “The Supreme Court has put on hold a controversial 2013 Texas abortion law — a sign that it will likely take up the major abortion challenge in its next term. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals previously found the Texas restriction, which requires abortion clinics to make costly upgrades to become ambulatory surgical centers, to be constitutional. An abortion clinic in Austin asked the Supreme Court to step in and block that ruling from taking effect until the justices had decided whether or not to review that Fifth Circuit decision. On Monday, the justices agreed.” Sarah Kliff, “Supreme Court blocks controversial Texas abortion la, Vox.
Summary: The Affordable Care Act’s health insurance subsidies to low-income people will continue, the Supreme Court ruled today. In a much-anticipated ruling on the challenge to the law, the government won. Federal tax subsidies will continue to individuals who qualify by income level and who bought insurance plans relying on subsidies in states that used the federal exchange site, healthcare.gov, as well as states that built their own exchanges, in a decision in the case King vs. Burwell.
Summary: Cash prices for medical procedures are getting easier to find. Here’s a price listing page from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation web site, which lists prices in categories like “diagnostic imaging” and “doctors office visit.” The site explains: “The services below have drop-down menus that show charges for frequently used services provided by Palo Alto Medical Foundation. The amounts you see are the most you would pay before any discounts that may be available to you. The charges also do not include any additional procedures that may be done as part of the visit. If you can’t find the service you are looking for, please call (888) 398-5677.” Cost of Services at Palo Alto Medical Foundation.”
Summary: “In the future, doctors who provide better healthcare will be paid more. When a doctor gives good care, she will get credit. For factors out of that doctor’s control, she won’t be penalized,” Rachel Katz writes in this thoughtful and thorough explanatory piece examining quality metrics from a provider’s perspective on The Health Care Blog. “The patient, too, will be rewarded for taking care of his own health. In short, payments will align with good care, and good care will become more common. This is the promise of value-based care, which is coming, according to almost everyone. Medicare is pushing it. Private payers are preparing for it.Top providers are tooling up. And yet, the question lingers — how exactly do we measure quality? Today quality measurement is rigid, periodic, and manual. Here’s a peek behind the curtain of what we measure today — and what’s possible tomorrow.” Rachel Katz, Anatomy of a Healthcare Quality Metric,” The Health Care Blog.
Summary: Quality ratings on medical procedures and providers, including Yelp, are a big issue. So I was interested in the online discussion in the last day or two on a piece by Casey Quinlan, the patient advocate (disclosure: and a friend of mine), about whether patients should “Yelp” their doctors. Anyone who’s interested should look at these two Storify collections. Voices were raised, from “Online Doctor Ratings Are Garbage” to “Your headline ‘Online Ratings Are Garbage’ mine ‘Patients Smarter Than You Think'” to “My point is that in absence of patient-useable data, people WILL Yelp. Fix THAT PERCEIVED NEED TO YELP.” Here’s Storify One and here’s Storify Two.
Summary: So what about at-home STD test kits? We started hearing about them a couple of years ago, and couldn’t decide if it is a good idea or not. Getting tested, yes — but not seen by a trained professional? Hmmm.
Summary: Buying medications by mail from Canada? You’re not alone. A friend from California explained how she started out on this path, and why she thinks this will save a lot of money — although, strictly speaking, the Food and Drug Administration considers the practice illegal, and has reportedly intercepted some shipments of medications from other countries.
Summary: “When shopping for care, consumers want to know what the doctor is thinking, how providers’ costs and quality compare, how patients rate providers, if personalized care is provided, and how safe the hospital is,” writes Lola Butcher in “Hospitals and Health Networks,” an online journal of the American Hospital Association. She mentions ClearHealthCosts.com in the context of price transparency. Also, in a section marked “Framing the Issue;” she writes” “Consumers are learning that all health care providers do not deliver equal value. Most consumers do not currently have access to or understand how to evaluate the information they need to make smart health care choices. New entrants outside the health care industry are taking the lead in educating consumers about health care. Knowledge is power. Consumers are learning that they have options when it comes to health care.” Lola Butcher, The New Health Care Consumer, Hospitals and Health Networks.