Tag Archive for 'healthcare reform'

You Might Want to Reconsider These Common Medical Tests!

The Choosing Wisely campaign, an initiative by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation in partnership with Consumer Reports, kicked off last spring. It is an attempt to alert both doctors and patients to problematic and commonly overused medical tests, procedures and treatments.

As we get older, we may find the need or desire for significant medical testing and procedures.  However, research is showing that some common tests and treatments may not be necessary.  If your doctor is recommending one of the following things to you, it may be wise to question them about why.  Discussing things with your doctor will help keep you  healthy now and as you age.

A few of the tests that Family Physicians recommend you question include:

  • Imaging for Lower Back Pain: Unless red flags are present, physicians recommend waiting six weeks for imaging on low back pain.
  • Antibiotics: Don’t insist on antibiotics for acute mild to moderate sinusitis unless symptoms last for seven or more days or symptoms worsen after some improvement.
  • Osteoporosis X-Rays: Don’t use dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) screening for osteoporosis in women younger than 65 or men younger than 70 with no risk factors.
  • EKGs: Avoid cardiac screening for low risk patients without symptoms.
  • Carotid Artery Stenosis: Don’t screen for carotid artery stenosis unless there are symptoms.
  • Cervical Cancer: Don’t screen women older than 65 years of age for cervical cancer who have had adequate prior screening and are not otherwise at high risk for cervical cancer.

For a full list from the Family Physicians and 50 other medical specialties, you can go to http://www.choosingwisely.org.

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The Decline of Doctors

The New York  Times reports that by 2014, Obama’s new healthcare law is projected to cover more than 300,000 people in the Inland empire, an economically poor area in Southern California. However, the healthcare coverage may not transfer into actual care, as locals speculate that there will be nowhere near the number of doctors necessary.

To this day, the Inland Empire has about 40 primary care doctors and 70 specialists per 100,000 residents — the worst shortage in California. Although patients still get care, the process is often slow and difficult. In Riverside, it has resulted in residents driving long distances to doctors, getting added to already full waiting lists, overusing emergency rooms and even forgoing care. As a result of this shortfall, a government council has recommended that a given region have 60 to 80 primary care doctors and 85 to 105 specialists primary care doctors per 100,000 residents.

As the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that in 2015, there will be 62,900 fewer doctors than needed (the number is expected to double by 2025.) Along with the increasing demand of the aging baby boom generation, Medicare officials predict that enrollment will surge to 73.2 million in 2025, up 44 percent from 50.7 million this year.


Healthcare Revolution

Europe is able to have successful and affordable Healthcare, so why can’t we. Well, the answer might be right on the tip of our tongues. We have an obesity rate of 64.5% vs. a 27% and 38% obesity rate for European females and males, respectively. (The European obesity rate is increasing at an alarming rate due to what I believe is due to poorer nutrition, the increase of fast food chains, and to many extents, the McDonaldization of Society, where quality is substituted for quantity). I found a brilliant analysis of the single problem we have with Healthcare and what must be done to change it in this Op-Ed piece in the New York Times. The author, Michael Pollan points out that the single biggest problem with Healthcare is not the system itself but America’s food industry, “a second even more powerful industry,” even more powerful than Insurance. The American diet most clearly leads to health problems in the future.  Super size meals, dollar menus, pound burritos, pretty much everything the Fast Food Industry puts on the table is fodder for the Healthcare industry. Even the salads and healthier food they have put on the menu aren’t as healthy as they appear to be. A salad with heavy dressing is over 1000 calories (like a Chipotle Burrito), and most people, because they think salad is healthy will get fries to complement said salad. You can thank the drive thru for that Type 2 diabetes as well as the fact that you have no insurance. And sure, to an lower to average income American eating 3 burgers, fries and a soda for as much as you would pay for a cup of fruit and a bagel is very tempting. What must be done aside from fixing the Healthcare system of its flaws is to tackle the giant food system and the American way of eating. By providing Americans with cost-effective and healthy eating, we will decrease the burden we are putting on the Healthcare system. If we get the health insurance industry involved in the fight over the farm bill, which they certainly will because they see the profits in having a healthy population, then we can see a true step forward for Healthcare Reform and cutting Healthcare costs.  While Pollan believes the fight should be between “Big Food and Big Insurance,” I also believe that the Healthcare Industry will side with Big Food since it throws money their way.   It looks like a we have a battle of the bigs, I hope us little ones just don’t get lost in the fog.

President Obama’s Healthcare Speech Real Time Updates

Get ready, come 8 o’clock Eastern Time, live updates will be rolling through the wires covering President Obama’s Address To Congress.  You’re not gonna want to miss this.  8pm- First Lady Obama enters into the House    8:11- The President Finally Arrives to warm applause   8:16– Speaker of The House Pelosi Announces The President of the United States   8:18 Describes that a recovery is many months away, declares he will not let up until those seeking jobs will find them  8:18 1/2 “Pulled this economy back from the brink,” only Democrats rise in applause  8:19 Issue of Healthcare, Determined to be the last President to take up Healthcare, again Democrats only stand  8:20 A History Lesson on Healthcare by Obama    8:21-8:22 PersonalAmerican stories of Healthcare’s Lapses, “This is wrong.”  Every seat applauses.  8:23-4 We must do something to control costs, “Our Healthcare Problem is Our Deficit Problem” 8:25 Left: Single Payer System (Public Plan) Right: Individualized Healthcare  8:26 4 out of 5 commitees have finished there tasks and there is an 80% agreement 8:27-8 We have also seen scare tactics that have not helped the debate, “The time for bickering is over.”  8:29 Three goals More security to those with insurance, provide those that don’t have it, slow the Healthcare costs for our country 8:30-2 If you have Healthcare, nothing will require you to change.  Against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage if you have a preexisting condition, cannot drop coverage when you get sick, no arbitrary cap, place a limit on out of pocket expenses. If you don’t have Insurance you will have quality affordable coverage.  New Insurance exchange (shop for insurance at competitive prices).  Every seat rises in applause 8:33 This exchange will happen in 4 years.  But right now if you get sick you will be covered.  8:34-7 You are required to have Basic Health Care. (It is clear that Obama has looked at the Massachusetts system and how small businesses have many times been left out.)  8:38 Time to put down some rumors: States rumors of “Death Squads” is a complete lie 8:39 Illegal immigrants will not be covered, no abortions will be funded by the gov’t 8:40 “Consumers do better when there’s choice and competition.” 8:41 “I want to hold Insurance Companies accountable” 8:43 “Republicans and Democrats need to work together” 8:44 “If you get affordable coverage then we will give you a choice” Only democrats stand up 8:45 How to pay for this plan, “not a single dime will be added to our deficits.” 8:46 We can find savings within the Healthcare system already 8:47 Medicare “Must be passed down from one generation to the next”8:52 Reforming Medical malpractice laws, Republicans stand up in applause.  8:53 900 Billion dollars over ten years Expect commentary early tomorrow morning

Long Term Care Insurance and The AARP’s Media Blitz (No Relation)

Watch out ladies! You may not be planning and preparing for long term care properly, according to a report by the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance.  Looking at the data though, I cannot see a link between the economic downturn and the ability for women to plan and prepare for long term care.  Nonetheless, the takeaway from this data is that long term care and long term care insurance are important issues that very often get overlooked.


In other news, be prepared for a media blitz this Labor Day weekend by the AARP as it attempts to prove to retirees that it is has no political leanings in the Healthcare Reform Debate.  They are rolling out with millions of dollars in advertising budget to convince people that they are only looking out to help its members in the Healthcare Debate.  This advertising is rolling out because of the fact the AARP lost 60,000 or so members who thought the association was flat out siding with Democratic camp.  This is yet another reason why I’m glad I have DVR. 

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