Summary: Through June of this year, the cholesterol-lowering drug rosuvastatin (Crestor, AstraZeneca) was the most prescribed branded drug in the United States, and the arthritis drug adalimumab (Humira, Abbott Laboratories) was the best-selling branded drug, according to the latest data from research firm IMS Health,” Megan Brooks reported in Medscape Medical News. Also in the top sellers: Enbrel for arthritis, Abilify, the antipsychotic; Lantus Solostar, insulin; Sovaldi, for hepatitis C; and Advair Diskus for asthma.
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: “Errors in medical bills are common. Seven steps noted below can help you reduce the odds of paying more than you should,” Elizabeth Bewley writes in The Daily Courier in Prescott, Ariz. “First, don’t pay cash in the doctor’s office. If you must pay a deductible, co-pay, or other charge in person, pay by check or credit card. That way, you’ll have more records (cancelled check image, credit card bill) to show that you paid. Second, if your doctor’s office asks you to pay on the spot for a balance due when you haven’t gotten a statement yet, explain that you prefer to have the paperwork before you pay, to keep your records straight. Third, when you get a bill, if you have health insurance, check the related Explanation of Benefits (EOB) your health insurer provides. (Medicare calls its EOBs ‘Medicare Summary Notices.’) If you have both primary and secondary insurance, such as Medicare and supplemental insurance, check both. Make sure that this paperwork shows that you owe the money. … ” For more, click on the link. Elizabeth Bewley, “How can you protect yourself against mistakes in doctors’ bills?” The Prescott Daily Courier, Prescott, Ariz.
Summary: “As options for cancer patients become increasingly complicated, and expensive, the most influential source for U.S. oncology treatment guidelines will for the first time offer a tool to assess the costs versus benefits of available therapies,” Deena Beasley of Reuters writes. “The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) says its new tool will provide a clearer picture of the relative value of medication options, particularly in cases where a very expensive therapy does little to improve survival. Doctors developing the measures expect them to shift demand away from less effective treatments, influencing the prices drugmakers are able to charge. They say they are responding to the needs of patients who are having to pay much more for their own care, with higher health insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles, and want to know the value of their treatments. The NCCN, an alliance of 26 cancer centers, envisions the new tool as a supplement to its widely followed guidelines for oncology care, which set out protocols for treating a range of cancers based on diagnosis, disease stage and other factors, such as age.” Deena Beasley, “New tool will compare costs and benefits of cancer treatments,” Reuters via Yahoo News.
Summary: We’re always interested when quality rankings make news. There’s been a burst of activity on this front lately, and — as if on cue — here’s a “Weekly Briefing” podcast on the topic from The Advisory Board. “This week, Dan Diamond, Rivka Friedman, and Rob Lazerow debate whether ‘Best Hospital’ rankings and physician scorecards are helpful or harmful, and argue over whether it’s too soon to pay attention to presidential candidates’ health care platforms. And as always, they close the show by sharing their Electives. You can listen to the show here or by clicking on the player below.” Source: The Weekly Briefing, Episode 3: Rank Amateurs and Rookie Mistakes
A guide to crowdsourcing: Our new project at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism
Summary: I have won a fellowship to create a guide to crowdsourcing at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University in New York, along with two other researchers, Jan Schaffer, head of the J-Lab at American University, and Mimi Onuoha, a researcher, artist and academic who is currently a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow. Here’s a link to the announcement.
Summary: “Most British people have never had to think about paying for medical procedures. But what would happen if they did? I decided to find out by asking my British colleagues at BuzzFeed UK to guess what different health procedures would cost them if they were in the US,” Hannah Jewell of Buzzfeed UK wrote today. “I then revealed the answer to each question based on data from the website Clear Health Costs. This is how it went down.” This entire story is so funny it made me laugh until I cried. Highly recommend.
Summary: Prices paid by insurers for common procedures vary wildly. Two recent reports from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, which insures one of three Americans, point to the discrepancies.
Summary: “Out-of-pocket spending on most major birth control methods fell sharply in the months after the Affordable Care Act began requiring insurance plans to cover contraception at no cost to women, a new study has found,” Sabrina Tavernise writes in “After Health Care Act, Sharp Drop in Spending on Birth Control” in The New York Times. “Spending on the pill, the most popular form of prescription birth control, dropped by about half in the first six months of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012, before the mandate took effect. The study, by health economists from the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed health insurance claims from a large private insurer with business in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It evaluated the effect of the Affordable Care Act, the biggest piece of social legislation in decades, on women’s pocketbooks. It estimated that savings from the pill alone were about $1.4 billion in 2013. Cost has long been a major obstacle to women getting birth control, and declines in what they pay for contraceptives have the potential to increase access and reduce unplanned pregnancies. About half of the 6.6 million pregnancies a year in the United States are unintended, far higher than in most developed countries.”
Summary: Google Insurance Co.? It might be right around the corner. Google has been tinkering with insurance for a few years now, and its recent activities suggest more of the same. Google’s primary source of income, of course, is advertising, and a quick look at the company’s ad revenue gives a clear picture of business opportunities to come.
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.