The rising costs of health care is one of the biggest issues faced by Americans today, as health insurance becomes a costly benefit many employers don’t feel they can afford to offer. Doctors equally feel dissatisfied with large managed-care systems that allow them little time per patient and require them to treat as many as 2000 people per year.
Concierge medicine–also known as insurance-free, direct pay or boutique medicine–offers an alternative to large-scale hospital systems. Typically, these practices do not take insurance, and patients pay an annual or monthly fee. This allows doctors to cut down on the overhead associated with accepting insurance while seeing fewer patients. Patients, in turn, receive more personalized care and services, such as same-day appointments and the ability to call their doctor directly to ask questions.
“As part of being a concierge patient, you’re going to get unrestricted access to your primary care physician,” says Dr. David G. Edelson, MD, FACP, who is the director of HealthBridge, 4-doctor primary care internal medicine group in Great Neck, New York. “I’m only going to keep 250 patients under concierge, and that allows me to spend much more time with patients.” Having fewer patients also means that doctors are simply more available to answer questions. “They get a private number to me, so they don’t go through the voice mail system,” says Dr. Edelson.
By Kelsey Murray
If you are a smoker, overweight, or have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you may end up paying more for health care as many employers are following a new trend: penalizing those employees who have unhealthy lifestyles instead of rewarding those who have healthy lifestyles.
In the past two years, the percent of American employers who impose some sort of financial penalty on their employees has doubled, making it now 19 percent. This number should double again in 2012, according to Towers Watson, a benefits consultant company.
So why are these people being penalized for their lifestyle choices? It is common knowledge that those who smoke or are obese usually have higher health risks, which in turn leads to increased health care costs. As a result, some companies are now requiring these employees to pay more for their health coverage because it makes sense that these people will end up costing the company more in health care coverage. (more…)
By Delia Quigley for Care2.com
It’s the latest, and some say the fastest growing, career for individuals interested in health and nutrition. The health coach is a new breed of healthcare professional whose job is to guide individuals through the minefield of dietary and lifestyle change. They support clients to make behavioral changes by utilizing techniques such as goal setting, identifying obstacles, and just good old positive reinforcement and support. It is kind of like having a best friend to discuss why you went back for that third helping of double Dutch ice cream; but with no judgment and plenty of sound advice.
A common complaint is that busy doctors spend little time helping a patient make better dietary choices. They are needed to provide a diagnosis and then treat according to an allopathic, pharmacological protocol. A good doctor might mention that the patient should cut down on saturated fat, but offer no further instructions as to how this should be done.
Enter the health coach who provides the assistance that the medical establishment cannot. This is accomplished by partnering with a client to create an individualized program based on achievable goals, regular contact, motivational encouragement and the understanding that each individual is unique and no dietary program is one-size-fits-all.
If you’ve ever tried to purchase a private health insurance plan, you’re probably familiar with the hoops you have to jump through in order to become insured. Between the litany of questions and the endless scrutiny of your medical records, buying an insurance plan can be extremely overwhelming.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the nation’s largest drugstore chain, Walgreen Co., is planning to start selling health insurance to customers this fall. The Tribune reported that “the Deerfield-based company will sell health insurance products with different price ranges and coverage levels from coast-to-coast through a private health insurance exchange.”
An unidentified spokesman from Walgreens said, “As always, we’re looking at a number of options in light of health care reform as we continue to seek ways to help our customers better navigate today’s health care system.”
Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann has recently announced her presidential candidacy. What will it mean for your health care if Bachmann ultimately wins the 2012 election?
According to her website, one of Bachmann’s top priorities is to repeal Obamacare because she considers its directives to be unconstitutional. As a constitutional conservative, Bachmann says on her website that she is a “champion of tea party values” and that “the solutions to our problems (don’t) come from Washington: more than ever, Washington IS the problem, and the real solutions will come from your businesses, your communities, your schools and the most basic and powerful unit of all, your families.”
This means that first lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to increase health-responsibility within the government are sorely frowned upon by Bachmann. Bachmann calls Mrs. Obama’s push for breastfeeding and other such efforts to eradicate obesity and promote good health a “nanny state” tactic. Currently, Mrs. Obama’s campaigns focus on children’s health, fitness and nutrition as preventative care. Although she’s been at the brunt of Bachmann’s criticism recently, Mrs. Obama isn’t the only first lady to push legislation with health initiatives. Both Hillary Clinton and Nancy Reagan were known for their persistence with health-related campaigns.
We all know that our doctors took an oath that states, “First, do no harm”. But what oath did our physicians take regarding discrimination?
Obese patients are claiming that the treatment they receive is being compromised due to the prejudiced attitudes of their physicians.
Misdiagnoses, under prescribed doses, and even lack of testing are some of the personal claims being made by overweight and obese patients. These patients state that their doctors overlooked their complaints and immediately blamed all issues on their weight.
This event seems to effect many obese people. However, obese and overweight women are experiencing this discrimination at higher rates. Women report seeing this type of behavior at BMIs as low as 27. That’s compared to men, who don’t seem to experience this treatment until their BMIs hit 35.
In March of 2010, the Congress passed a set of health care reforms, spearheaded by President Obama, that had failed to be written into law by previous administrations. Yet as soon as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed by the president, calls for its repeal immediately sounded from Republicans. A compromise for some, a huge victory for some and a setback for others, the health care bill remains the center of a fierce debate. The government’s role in health care is about more than helping citizens stay healthy, it is closely tied to the underlying ideals about how the country should run.
Both sides of the aisle agree that further reforms are needed to reduce the cost of government-funded health care, but it is the extent and form of these changes that is widely debated. Health care is poised to be a major point of contention in the upcoming presidential debates, particularly among the candidates vying for the Republican nomination.
In many places on this blog, we have extolled the benefits of electronic medical records. Having easily transferable medical data seems highly desirable in a world where health care is becoming more and more specialized, and patients with multiple conditions also have multiple medications and doctors. They also have the potential to give patients access to their own records.
An article in The New York Times brings a different perspective to light. Just because electronic medical records do away with some level of bureaucratic paperwork, they come with their own set of systemic problems. Danielle Ofri, M.D. discusses the frustration of facing a 1,000 character limit while describing a patient’s complicated needs. She trims her description, but is unable to make her evaluations fit into the box. “In desperation,” she writes, “I call the help desk and voice my concerns. ‘Well, we can’t have the doctors rambling on forever,’ the tech replies.”
Times are tough and a lot of companies are trying to cut back on costs. Less benefits, less hours, no healthcare, no bonuses, and more have become the norm, but that hasn’t stopped a large handful of companies from doing everything they can to provide corporate fitness benefits.
Ikea recently had 12,400 custom bicycles made as Christmas gifts for their U.S. employees. The bikes (which are silver with blue, yellow and white stripes- Ikea’s colors) served as a ‘thank you’ for a great year and also a reminder that an active lifestyle is key to a happy life. Employees were pleasantly surprised and it encouraged some who weren’t previously bicyclists to take up the healthy hobby. Ikea might be wow-ing us with their thoughtful and creative gifts, but they aren’t the only company to take ethical responsibility for the health crisis we are in.
In response to rising health care costs, numerous U.S. companies offer corporate fitness and wellness options to employees. “The most important thing a company can offer employees to advance wellness is a willingness to meet employees needs no matter what stage they are at in their wellness journey,” says Marianne Jackson, senior vice president of human resources at Blue Shield of California. “By keeping the healthy well, companies can lower health care costs and increase employee productivity.”
Weight-Loss Programs: Obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges of all time, and the annual medical costs associated with obesity are estimated to be as high as $147 billion in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for 2009, more than 1 in 4 U.S. adults were obese. Obesity is an important driver of costs in the workplace, so companies offer programs that help employees lose weight. Lopez Negrete Communications, a Houston-based marketing agency, sponsored a weight-loss contest in 2010 in which the winner was awarded $1,000.