Big-name hospitals fail to get 5 stars in new Medicare ratings: Kaiser

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

Summary: “The federal government released its first overall hospital quality rating on Wednesday, slapping average or below average scores on many of the nation’s best-known hospitals while awarding top scores to dozens of unheralded ones,” Jordan Rau writes over at Kaiser Health News. “The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rated 3,617 hospitals on a […]

At small rural hospitals, paying more for worse treatment: WSJ

Summary: “Small rural hospitals called critical-access hospitals have in recent years been performing more and more inpatient orthopedic surgeries, even as their overall stays decline, a Journal analysis of Medicare billing records shows,” Christopher Weaver, Anna Wilde Mathews and Tom McGinty write in The Wall Street Journal. “Inpatient joint-replacement surgeries covered by Medicare rose 42.6% […]

Medicare Advantage vs. Medicare: My mom’s story, by Wendell Potter

Filed Under: Costs

Summary: “The odds are pretty high … that Mom would not still be counted among the living had she not switched from an MA plan to traditional Medicare,” Wendell Potter writes in a piece titled “Why Mom went back to traditional Medicare” for He describes his mother’s experience, and concludes: “Only in original Medicare […]

Hospital quality ratings: Here’s another view, with hospital-by-hospital search

Summary: Quality ratings are hard to come by in the health-care marketplace, and the ones that exist tend to come to very different conclusions. But there’s a new set of quality ratings, imposed by the government, in an attempt to tie performance to pay by penalizing hospitals for complications and conditions acquired in the hospital. Jordan […]

The new Medicare payment data release: 2 experts set the stage

Filed Under: Costs, Regulators

SUMMARY: A big release of data from Medicare, on what doctors got paid what for doing what, is coming in hours. There’s a lot of debate about it — the American Medical Association resisted, and then stopped resisting — and the mystery about what’s in the data has been building for months. For a sneak […]

How much do prescriptions cost? Here’s the Medicare price info for 2014

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Regulators

SUMMARY: Curious about drug pricing? Here’s the link to Medicare drug pricing files for 2014. This is important because prescription prices can vary widely. The price Medicare reimburses is the closest thing in this marketplace to a fixed or benchmark price. Read more on the next page…    

Facility fee change proposed for hospital bills, CPI explains

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

High emergency-room bill? Blame that mysterious facility fee. Well, now the Government is trying to hold down fees by imposing a flat rate, a change that will apply only to Medicare patients. “Federal officials for more than a decade have let hospitals decide on their own how much to charge Medicare for certain emergency room […]

Aid for over-65’s struggling with health care costs: Savvy Senior

From the in Maryland, help for over-65’s on Medicare premiums and co-pays, and also medications: “Dear Savvy Senior, Are there any programs that you know of that help seniors with their Medicare expenses? I’m 67 and live primarily on my Social Security, and am having a hard time paying my Medicare premiums, deductibles, co-pays […]

New models of payment: Cutting out the insurer, or can I have a lower price for that?

This is the third part in our series of new models of payment in the health-care marketplace, touching employers and individuals. The first part is here, and the second part is here. * * * * * We’ve been writing about new models of payment for health care by employers. So individuals might ask: How does […]