Health Insurance Brokers Prepare Clients For Obamacare Sticker Shock – Forbes

(emphasis added):

By Dr. Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

A California insurance broker, who sells health plans to individuals and small businesses, told me that she’s prepping her clients for a sticker shock. Her local carriers are hinting to her that premiums may triple this fall, when the plans unveil how they’ll billet the full brunt of Obamacare’s new regulations and mandates.

via Health Insurance Brokers Prepare Clients For Obamacare Sticker Shock – Forbes.

You. Don’t. Say.  Thanks, Obamacare!

Don’t open wide: Annual check-ups are pretty much useless

I suspect this underestimates the problem. I think a lot of ‘chasing incidentalomas’ in medicine start here:

Two doctors in Colorado scanned through 14 randomized, controlled studies involving 182,000 patients. The articles spanned from 1963 to 1999. The doctors looked at whether those who had regular check-ups had higher mortality rates than their counterparts who dodged such visits. They could not find a difference.“General health checks do not improve important outcomes and are unlikely to ever do so based on the pooled results of this meta-analysis spanning decades of experience,” write authors Allan Prochazka and Tanner Caverly. ”There remains a belief in the value of general health checks despite the accumulating evidence. This belief is buoyed by screening advocacy groups and insurance coverage, and they have ramifications for patient welfare and health care costs.”

via Don’t open wide: Annual check-ups are pretty much useless.

They point out that Canada actually stopped paying for ‘routine checkups’ in 1979.

(Please understand I’m not including chronic condition maintenance in this category, like CHF or diabetes visits, as once you’ve got a chronic condition that’s where office visits probably really do help).

26 States Decline ObamaCare Exchange; ‘Administrative Nightmare’ Seen – Investors.com

So, this is an inauspicious beginning…

The federal government will likely be involved in running the ObamaCare exchange in at least 30 states, 26 of which expressly declined to establish state exchanges. One health-policy expert refers to it as an “administrative nightmare” for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Friday was the deadline for a state to let HHS know if it planned to establish a state exchange. Thus far only 18 states and the District of Columbia are planning on doing so.

Enrolling them will likely prove a daunting challenge for the federal government.

“HHS expected to be running zero exchanges,” said Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. “They have been throwing money at states to bribe them to start exchanges. HHS maintains they’ll have these things up and running by October 2013. I don’t know anyone who is confident about that and I’m ready to predict that they will not.”

via 26 States Decline ObamaCare Exchange; ‘Administrative Nightmare’ Seen – Investors.com.

Why aren’t the States playing? They aren’t interested in being a conduit for plans they don’t run, the state gets all the blame for decisions they don’t make. (That, plus general opposition to the whole idea: it’s your plan, you run it…).

All this, by the way, projected to insure 25 million Americans through this plan in the next seven years. None of this controls costs, or spending.

CBS News: (some) ER Docs pressured to admit at a for-profit chain

For the record, nobody’s ever told me I need to admit more (or less).

Hospitals: The cost of admission

December 2, 2012 4:42 PM

Steve Kroft investigates allegations from doctors that the hospital chain they worked for pressured them to admit patients regardless of their medical needs.

 

First thoughts: this HMA company’s about to get an ugly look-at by the feds. I feel bad for the docs (and the admins) that blew the whistle.

Wonder if any of them filed a Qui tam action?

A physician takes his flu vaccine under protest

Good, well written rant-

A physician takes his flu vaccine under protest

by Doug McGuff, MD on November 27th, 2012in Physician

To hospital administration,

I am writing this letter to inform you that when I take my mandated influenza vaccine I will be doing so under protest and with the understanding that failure to do so could result in loss of my ability to earn income for myself and my family. Unfortunately, I do not qualify for any of the exemptions allowed by our facility. Since I am not religious, I have no religious objections, I am not allergic, and I have never had Guillane-Barre as a result of a flu vaccine. My objection to the vaccine is based on rational evidence and moral indignation.

via A physician takes his flu vaccine under protest.

UT-Austin Med School, and why they’re just getting one now

UT Austin is finally going to get a teaching hospital (built by Seton):

The medical school facility, which will include academic and medical research space, will be financed by UT-Austin.According to the university administration’s internal estimates, the cost of the entire endeavor is approximately $4.1 billion over 12 years. Central Health will cover about 10 percent, and Seton is expected to cover nearly half, including the clinical faculty and residency slots for graduate medical education.The rest will largely come from UT-Austin.

Good, I suppose. We’re going to be short doctors soon anyway, and more training slots are welcome. (Insert dichotomy between what society needs and what they’re willing to pay for and its distortion of the residency training market).

And now, Story Time with GruntDoc:

“I think people will look back and say, ‘How did this community work without having a major medical center here?’” Powers said.

via UT-Austin Med School Plans Proceed After Election — Higher education | The Texas Tribune.

A good question, now let me tell you they ‘why’ as it has been told to me*.

In the early ’70s, the Texas Legislature set aside the authorization and funding for a new medical school in Texas. All understood it would be a UT Austin school, right there in the backyard of the Texas Capitol.

For those unaware, the Texas Legislature is in session for 90 days every two years, and the last minute flurry of bill passage and amending is said to be quite remarkable. And, this is how a powerful legislator stuck a rider onto a somewhat unrelated bill that said ‘all the money from that other bill is for Lubbock’, and it was passed.

The UT Austin medical school was hijacked, and landed squarely in Lubbock. Reportedly powerful people were ticked but couldn’t do much about it, and Lubbock has supported the Med School well (I myself attended several generations past). Shenanigans in legislatures? Who’d have though.

Now, Austin will get a Medical School. Better late than never. Congrats!

 

*This was told to me as a tale when I was quite young, so I suspect the details aren’t spot-on, but it makes sense given how the Texas Lege works and how little Texas Tech would have been expected to get a Medical School over UT in the early ’70s. Let’s not use this for a Wikipedia entry, okay?

Oklahoma Doctors vs. Obamacare – YouTube

The title is theirs, and it’s unnecessarily inflammatory, really it should be “Price Transparency in Medicine vs the Traditional Model”.

Three years ago, Dr. Keith Smith, co-founder and managing partner of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, took an initiative that would only be considered radical in the health care industry: He posted online a list of prices for 112 common surgical procedures.

via Oklahoma Doctors vs. Obamacare – YouTube.

More of this, please, much more.

ACEP 12 tweeting: Bukata and Hoffman

Those who don’t follow me on Twitter probably have calm, productive lives. Those who do wonder why I twitter at all. Because it keeps me busy and engaged, that’s why.

Here’s an edited compilation of two of the American College of Emergency Physicians Scientific Assembly 2012 lectures in tweets by me from Denver. These encompass about 3.5 hours of lecture by the same two legends, Jerry Hoffman and Rick Bukata reviewing the medical literature as it applies to EM.

I used Storify to put these together (it couldn’t have been easier). I left out a lot of comments from others, not as they weren’t interesting but as I’m trying to tell the story of this lecture.

At the end there’re some pictures of the Twitterers and Bloggers who get together after ACEP. Nice how we’re birds of a feather. For a bonus, at the end are Joe Lex’s 4 Rules of Emergency Medicine, which deserves its own compilation.

Movin’ Meat: Are low acuity patients congesting the ER?

Big big Kudos to MovinMeat for bringing data to an argument that seemed doomed to opinion-lock.


I have pointed out in the past that my BS-meter starts pinging when people start claiming that the ER is only caring for emergent patients and that non-emergency cases are rare. So this set me off, of course. My perception — and that of many of us in the trenches — is that we are absolutely beset by non-emergencies and that the ER is viewed by many as the "convenience clinic," if not the "vicodin clinic." But is this true? How can we quantify this?

via Movin' Meat: Are low acuity patients congesting the ER?.

It’s a terrific post. It’s worth your time.

Health Officials: No Need To Call 911 For Mosquito Bites « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

Unbelievable.

FORT WORTH CBSDFW.COM – With hundreds of human cases of the West Nile Virus being reported across Texas and more than a dozen related deaths in North Texas it seems some people are overreacting and calling 911 when they’re bitten by a mosquito.In short, health officials say a mosquito is not a health emergency.“We understand peoples concerns regarding the West Nile Virus, but in the absence of any symptoms of West Nile then a simple mosquito bite is really not a reason for someone to call 911,” said Matt Zavadsky, public affairs director for MedStar Emergency Medical Services.One woman called Fort Worth 911 requesting assistance because her young nephew had a bump on his arm.

via Health Officials: No Need To Call 911 For Mosquito Bites « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth.

We’re seeing some of this in the ED, people with bug bites coming straight in ‘to get checked out’.

Sad.

More ABA Silliness – ProfessorBainbridge.com

Where have we experienced this before?

Christine Hurt reports on an American Bar Association effort to promote breed neutral vicious dog laws.

My question: WTF? Why is this the business of the ABA?

via More ABA Silliness – ProfessorBainbridge.com.

Oh, yeah. The AMA. Same political, and therefore membership trajectory.

Colorado Mass Shooting Tested an E.R. Staff – NYTimes.com

Wow. Amazing.

AURORA, Colo. — More than three weeks have passed, but Daryl Johnson still begins his emergency room shift at the University of Colorado Hospital here with a sense of foreboding.

via Colorado Mass Shooting Tested an E.R. Staff – NYTimes.com.

And horribly frightening. I pray I spend my entire career and not have a night like that.

Chief Complaint of the night

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/gruntdoc/status/234183229823922177"]

L.A. City Council votes 14-0 to ban medical marijuana shops – latimes.com

In the latest attempt to regulate what many say is an out-of-control proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, the City Counted voted 14-0 Tuesday to ban pot shops.

Under the ban, each of the 762 dispensaries that have registered with the city will be sent a letter ordering them to shut down immediately. Those that don’t comply may face legal action from the city.

via L.A. City Council votes 14-0 to ban medical marijuana shops – latimes.com.

Two somewhat disparate thoughts:

  • where does this leave the ‘legalize it” movement? They did, they were an out of control nuisance to the point LA shut them down, and
  • if Government is in control of your industry, they can kill it.

A ten year doc’s advice to newly graduated EM residents…

Recently, I blogged about being at my new job for 10 years. It was a wonderful experience to blog about stability. It’s also illuminating I’ve been here for 10 years and still call it my new job.

Not long after the blog post went up, I got an email from a soon to graduate Emergency Medicine resident who was curious as to what techniques I have used to stay at the same job for 10 years. This caused me some consternation, as I don’t think I really had an actual plan to be at the same place for this period of time. Emergency medicine practitioners are not known to stay in the same place for a long time, so blogging about a 10 year stay is something of an anomaly.

When I was a resident the common knowledge given was that it was important to serve on hospital committees, and to otherwise do a good job and you would be recognized and your life would be fine. This may or may not be true for everyone. I did find that I was on hospital committees, but it was after I’d been here for more than eight years and was interested in serving on them. One of the unusual things about my group is that there is extraordinary longevity, and I’m still basically middle of the pack having been here 10 years. I realize this is atypical for emergency medicine, but I think it will become more normal to have more job longevity as the emergency medicine field matures, and as there are more graduating residents.

What you’ll find helps you in the long run in emergency medicine is being a good colleague to the medical staff. This is somewhat antithetical to the way we’re trained, which is this low-level combat between departments, but ultimately the rainmakers talk to the hospital President, if your group isn’t making it some other group will. This does not mean you have to be a doormat but it does mean that when a consultant calls and asks you for a favor if it’s not unreasonable you should do it. This isn’t bad medicine, this is actually good medicine because you’re helping a smart colleague help out their patient. This service does not go unnoticed. In fact, if you want to stay in your place for a long time, be known to be helpful.

Being competent, you’d think, would be a given; you’d be wrong. Being competent in your job, and collegial with the nurses and staff, goes a long way to being accepted as one of the group and being one of the group means you get to stay.

Nobody wants their doctor to be having a bad day. Nobody who works there wants the ER doctor to be having a bad day. It doesn’t matter that your cat threw up in your shoes, or that your underwear is too tight, you have to try to get along. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I’m all roses and sunshine but I’m trying every day to get better at this.

Your reputation is set early, take advantage of that. I have a reputation for always being early; these days I’m about on time. For the first six months, I was about 10 to 15 minutes early for every shift. But, since I was always early initially, my reputation is set. On the same theme, as a colleague says, two minutes late is not on time, it’s very very late. When you’re working your tail off, you don’t want to be wondering when your relief is coming in. You’re very important; so is every single person you work with. Never forget that.

New grads are always interested in, and worry about, hospital politics. Here’s the short version of hospital politics in your first two years of practice: don’t make the directors’ job hard. That’s all you have to do. Just show up, work, practice good medicine, and don’t make the director’s job hard. The director is in that position for a reason; as a matter of fact, they’re so smart they hired you, so you should give them the benefit of the doubt when the iffy call comes out. They don’t want you to bother a certain specialist after a certain time; there’s a reason for that, and you should have a conversation behind closed doors, not at the nurses station.

And, when you do finally step in it, and make the mess that’s going to show up on the directors desk sooner or later, you need to be the one that has the conversation with the director first and they don’t need to hear about it from anyone else. This is basic leadership and you need to get on board with it. If they have the facts, and have your side of the story good or bad, they can help you; if they get called on the carpet and have to defend you not knowing your side of the tale, you will not come out the better for the experience. This is just the way of the world, it’s been the same way since you got punished for your brother knocking over the lamp. Help the guy who’s got to help you.

Also, when you show up, you’re going to be full of new knowledge. This doesn’t mean you’re smarter than the group, this just means you got out of training more recently. Use your new power for good and not for evil. And as you’ve probably guessed, there are about 30 ways to skin a cat, and you got trained in two. Keep your eyes open, and learn from your colleagues. They want to help you, let them help you.

Finally, have a life. Don’t spend all the money, put some away, as you may be like me and have to change jobs the first year. It happens. It happens to a lot of us; this doesn’t mean you’re bad it just means it was a bad fit. Keep trying.

Most of that was platitudes; sorry about that. The realty is if you’re a good person, do a good job, and play well with others you’ll be fine.

 

This was written with the new Mountain Lion operating system for the iMac; it was dictated and now you know that I don’t speak well.