Posts Tagged - ‘colonoscopy’

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New Health Insurance Plans Must Cover Colonoscopies

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Image: wotthe7734 under CC 3.0

In many cases, health insurance providers have refused to cover colonoscopies–regardless of their ability to to help diagnose colon cancer.

With the new healthcare reform bill, that will change; at least for newly created health insurance plans. They will be required to fully cover all preventative care procedures classified by the U.S. Preventative Care Task Force as A or B.

However, existing plans are exempt from the requirement. If a colonoscopy exam are important to you, you may be interested in new coverage with plan years that begin after October 1st of this year. Those will not require any cost sharing on your part.

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More Medical Care Isn’t Always Better

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Image: Laughing Squid under CC 3.0

When it comes to holding down health insurance plan costs, it is generally agreed on that a main factor is the sheer amount of utilization of medical care. Innovations in technology have resulted in significant improvements in life expectancy, but many believe that there are times when health care services are overused.

Obviously, nobody wants to forgo screenings or treatment when it’s necessary. However, there are some times when they can do more harm than good. For example, the risk of radiation from repeated colonoscopies, mammograms and CT scans can add up, while doing relatively little to catch cancer early in most patients under a certain age. Some believe that lifetime exposure can even increase a person’s risk of cancer!

Why is medical care often overused? Patients often demand it, and doctors may take the path of least resistance. Physicians may also be worried about being sued for medical malpractice in the worst-case scenario; doctors are more likely to be sued if they are perceived to not have done enough. Also, doctors tend to be paid on a per-procedure basis, giving them an incentive to perform more tests and procedures. No matter what, the cost is paid for by your health insurer, and passed onto you through more expensive health insurance premiums.

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Is President Obama a Symbol of Rising Health Care Costs?

Monday, March 15th, 2010

(Image: jurvetson under CC 3.0)

It’s not what you think: while his support for healthcare reform legislation certainly plays a role, it’s Obama’s own medical care that may be doing more to affect the cost of health insurance.

Apparently, the President is like millions of Americans today: receiving too many expensive tests and treatments for little health benefit. During Obama’s checkup, he received a prostate cancer screening despite it not being recommended for any age group. He also received a virtual colonoscopy, which is more expensive than traditional colonoscopies and not yet recommended at his age. Obama probably listened to his doctor, who may have chosen to perform the latter test because African-Americans are at higher risk for colon cancer. As for using the less invasive method, it may have avoided the temporary transfer of power that sedation requires (in other words, Joe Biden would’ve been President for several hours).

Experts propose several explanations for the trend:

  • Patients accustomed to fast-paced technology innovations and demanding nothing less, whether or not the new solutions are actually proven or more effective
  • Defensive medicine: doctors protecting themselves against the possibility of medical malpractice lawsuits by ordering every test possible
  • Health insurance companies pay doctors on a fee-for-service basis, encouraging them to perform more tasks to maximize their income

All of these procedures lead to more expensive health insurance rates. Certain tests also involve potentially harmful exposure to radiation, which should be minimized. If some of them could be eliminated or reduced without lowering the quality of care, the system would see a significant cost savings.  Of course, there is controversy surrounding this issue. They recommend that doctors and patients discuss screening and treatment options individually, as opposed

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