Posts Tagged - ‘patients’

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Health Insurance Reform: Healthcare Mergers Coming Up?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Image: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig under CC 3.0

The healthcare reform law may end up having an unfortunate side effect: although one of its stated goals is to help make affordable health insurance more widely available by spurring competition, several health care providers are considering merging.

According to many groups of doctors, hospitals, and clinics, the alliances and joint ventures are necessary in order to maintain their profit margins and take advantage of the potential savings of the law while avoiding the additional costs. However, consumers may suffer as a result.

The industry’s lobbying groups also want the Federal Trade Commission and the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services to give them exceptions from antitrust and Medicare fraud laws. This could potentially be dangerous. On the positive side, it can force medical service providers to coordinate care, leading to better health outcomes for patients.

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Arizona Immigration Law Puts Doctors In A Bind

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

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According to the Hippocratic Oath, doctors are tasked with treating all patients to the best of their ability, regardless of who they are–or their immigration status. Meanwhile, Arizona recently passed a controversial law that states, among other things, that anybody suspected of harboring an illegal immigrant can be charged a fine.

Some physicians are worried that this will affect their practice, adding yet another bureaucratic worry on top of dealing with health insurance providers and reimbursement. They speculate that they may be required to ask for passports before treating patients.

Moreover, it may shoot a hole through the trust essential to the doctor-patient relationship, because it interferes with confidentiality. Some health conditions may be related to living or working conditions related to being undocumented, but which patients will never reveal for fear of being deported. Illegal immigrants are already forbidden from participating in Arizona health insurance exchanges, or those from any other state. As a result, they may pay for treatment through cash or other means.

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Do You Trust Sitting Doctors More Than Standing Ones?

Friday, May 14th, 2010

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Strange but true: many people do. A recent study from the University of Kansas found that patients are significantly more satisfied with the quantity and quality of health care they receive when their doctor sits by their bedside, as opposed to standing.

Cost and timing pressures–due to health insurance and other issues that encourage quicker turnaround times–have unfortunately resulted in shorter doctor’s appointments. The act of sitting doesn’t cost any more money or take any more time, but makes patients feel that physicians are paying attention to them more. Maybe that’s actually true.

When patients feel more comfortable and less rushed with their doctors, they’re more likely to speak freely about their symptoms and compliance. This will allow doctors to better diagnose and treat them, while requiring fewer expensive tests. The result: cheaper health insurance plans!

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FAQ: Doctor Visit Waits Under Healthcare Reform

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

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Many are concerned that there will be extremely long waits for care, now that the new health care bill is the law of the land. Even supporters of healthcare reform acknowledge that many people will experience longer waits to visit a primary care doctor. However, they disagree on the extent of the impact. What’s the truth? Read this FAQ for more information.

  1. Will it take longer to see a doctor? There is no denying that an increase in the number of patients will lead to longer wait times. By 2019, over 30 million previously uninsured Americans will have access to affordable health insurance. Most of those people weren’t seeing physicians before, so the wait will inevitably increase.
  2. Are there any other reasons for the longer wait times? This situation has been going on before health insurance reform was a twinkle in the Obama administration’s eye. For years, there has been a shortage of primary care doctors. Many medical school graduates choose more lucrative specialties, instead. Granted, reform will probably exacerbate the predicted shortage of 40,000 by 2020.
  3. Who will be affected most? Those who already have their own doctor will most likely see little impact. You might have to wait a day or two longer for non-emergency visits. However, the impact is more severe for people with a new health insurance plan looking for a doctor for the first time. Many internal medicine and family doctors may refuse to accept new patients. The small percentage of the uninsured with already-established relationships with a doctor will be better off.
  4. What does the legislation do about the waiting lines? Many feel that the bill’s provisions to reduce its impact on wait times are insufficient. Med school students who choose primary care will receive special student loan packages that are less stringent about repayment. It will also increase reimbursement rates for Medicaid temporarily, because the public health insurance program for the poor is often rejected by doctors that find it impossible to break even on their practice with the low rates.
  5. What else can be done? Many health care experts promote the increased training of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who are qualified to handle minor to moderate conditions. They can help reduce the load for doctors, and enter the workforce in a shorter period of time.
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