Insurance Q&A

November 17, 2009

“Bending The Cost Curve” at what cost?

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrroark @ 1:34 pm

New guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (whose stance influences coverage of screening tests by Medicare and many insurance companies) stated Monday that most women don’t need mammograms in their 40s and should get one every two years starting at 50. What’s more, the panel said breast self-exams do no good, and women shouldn’t be taught to do them.

The task force advice is based on its conclusion that screening 1,300 women in their 50s to save one life is worth it, but that screening 1,900 women in their 40s to save a life is not.

The American Cancer Society has been recommending annual mammograms beginning at 40, and it reiterated that position on Monday. “This is one screening test I recommend unequivocally, and would recommend to any woman 40 and over,” the society’s chief medical officer, Dr. Otis Brawley, said in a statement. This “is essentially telling women that mammography at age 40 to 49 saves lives, just not enough of them,” he said. The cancer society feels the benefits outweigh the harms for women in both groups.

If this advice would be part of the government’s health plan, can we call it a “Death Panel” for one of every 1900 women between 40 and 49? And how, in the future, would the count be adjusted for budgetary reasons? In Europe they define a “Rare Disease” as one that affects less than 1 of 2000 people.

November 16, 2009

“Reform” to reduce senior care

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrroark @ 4:02 pm

The Washington Post tells us that¬†healthcare “reform”¬†will reduce health services for seniors:

Report: Bill would reduce senior care
Medicare cuts approved by House may affect access to providers

By Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 15, 2009

 

A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending — one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health-care system — would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.

The report, requested by House Republicans, found that Medicare cuts contained in the health package approved by the House on Nov. 7 are likely to prove so costly to hospitals and nursing homes that they could stop taking Medicare altogether.

Congress could intervene to avoid such an outcome, but “so doing would likely result in significantly smaller actual savings” than is currently projected, according to the analysis by the chief actuary for the agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid. That would wipe out a big chunk of the financing for the health-care reform package, which is projected to cost $1.05 trillion over the next decade.

More generally, the report questions whether the country’s network of doctors and hospitals would be able to cope with the effects of a reform package expected to add more than 30 million people to the ranks of the insured, many of them through Medicaid, the public health program for the poor.

In the face of greatly increased demand for services, providers are likely to charge higher fees or take patients with better-paying private insurance over Medicaid recipients, “exacerbating existing access problems” in that program, according to the report from Richard S. Foster of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Here is the report itself

November 4, 2009

Don’t Copy Europe’s Mistakes

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrroark @ 6:45 pm

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