Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trends With Benefits | This American Life

An amazingly helpful look into what our disability program has become. Done with the usual attention to humanity and detail as we have come to expect from This American Life.

490: Trends With Benefits

Mar 22, 2013

The number of Americans receiving federal disability payments has nearly doubled over the last 15 years. There are towns and counties around the nation where almost 1/4 of adults are on disability. Planet Money's Chana Joffe-Walt spent 6 months exploring the disability program, and emerges with a story of the U.S. economy quite different than the one we've been hearing

Trends With Benefits | This American Life

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Are Americans Finding Affordable Coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplaces? - The Commonwealth Fund

Some good graphics and a chart pack on this topic. There are losers in this – higher income individuals and families who don’t qualify for significant subsidies under the exchanges.

By the end of the first open enrollment period for coverage offered through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, increasing numbers of people said they found it easy to find a plan they could afford, according to The Commonwealth Fund’s Affordable Care Act Tracking Survey, April–June 2014. Adults with low or moderate incomes were more likely to say it was easy to find an affordable plan than were adults with higher incomes. Adults with low or moderate incomes who purchased a plan through the marketplaces this year have similar premium costs and deductibles as adults in the same income ranges with employer-provided coverage. A majority of adults with marketplace coverage gave high ratings to their insurance and were confident in their ability to afford the care they need when sick.

Are Americans Finding Affordable Coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplaces? - The Commonwealth Fund

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A Direct Primary Care Medical Home: The Qliance Experience

An innovative primary care model…

Who and Where A Seattle primary care practice accepting patients of all ages, staffed by internists, family physicians, and nurse practitioners.

Core Innovations In this direct care practice, in lieu of insurance, patients pay an age-adjusted monthly fee for unrestricted, comprehensive primary care. Patients have no copayments for visits. Low overhead allows providers to have small patient panels, giving patients better access and allowing more time per visit. The objective is to shift care away from expensive specialists and hospitals.

Key Results Qliance has established a viable, sustainable business model with low overhead and patient panels about a third the size of those of the average insurance-based family physician. This has allowed patients to enjoy much greater access and clinicians to delve much more deeply into patients’ health issues, do more research on health problems, work more closely with consultants when necessary, and work more intensively with patients on health change, leading to greater engagement of and satisfaction among clinicians.

A Direct Primary Care Medical Home: The Qliance Experience

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Why We Must Ration Health Care - NYTimes.com

Why We Must Ration Health Care - NYTimes.com:



You have advanced kidney cancer. It will kill you, probably in the next year or two. A drug called Sutent slows the spread of the cancer and may give you an extra six months, but at a cost of $54,000. Is a few more months worth that much?
If you can afford it, you probably would pay that much, or more, to live longer, even if your quality of life wasn’t going to be good. But suppose it’s not you with the cancer but a stranger covered by your health-insurance fund. If the insurer provides this man — and everyone else like him — with Sutent, your premiums will increase. Do you still think the drug is a good value? Suppose the treatment cost a million dollars. Would it be worth it then? Ten million? Is there any limit to how much you would want your insurer to pay for a drug that adds six months to someone’s life? If there is any point at which you say, “No, an extra six months isn’t worth that much,” then you think that health care should be rationed.


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

In praise of placebos - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

In alternative treatments, patients are told that “it will take time to regain your health.” Granted sufficient cultural authority, chiropractors and other alternative medicine practitioners could dissuade patients from risky and painful medical tests, dependence on addictive drugs and needless surgeries.

This makes what chiropractors do secondary to what they prevent. True natural healing may involve distracting patients with a good story and avoiding medical interference. Spinal manipulation at least gives patients time, reassurance and permission to recover — without a costly back surgery that often has no greater probability of success than time and encouragement. (Of course, alternative medicine can become the new dependence — and the new form of bloated expenditure — as “regaining health” creeps into ongoing treatment for “maintaining health.”)

The greater theme here is that so much of our health and well-being lies in our connection with others. My study found that people receiving care — even if it was sham therapy in a control group — showed greater improvement over those stuck on a waiting list.

The logical conclusion is that we are more resilient and more likely to recover if we have a plausible explanation of why we hurt and when the pain might end, and if we know that someone cares. How many other conditions might also require just patience, community and time to heal?

In praise of placebos - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Why More, Not Fewer, People Might Start Getting Health Insurance Through Work - NYTimes.com

Why More, Not Fewer, People Might Start Getting Health Insurance Through Work - NYTimes.com: "The law’s best-known and least-liked provision — the “individual mandate” — is probably causing the trend. For the first time, people must buy insurance this year or be subject to a tax penalty. In Massachusetts, a similar requirement changed the employer-sponsored insurance market in two ways, said Sharon Long, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, who has studied the state’s experience.

First, it encouraged more workers who were already being offered health insurance to take it — an effect roughly analogous to what Walmart is experiencing. Second, it actually induced more employers to offer coverage to their workers — because, Ms. Long believes, workers began to demand insurance once they were required to have it. Over all, the percentage of Massachusetts residents with employer-based insurance went to 65.6 percent in 2008, when the health care law was up and running, up from 61 percent in 2006."



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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Expansion of Mental Health Care Hits Obstacles - NYTimes.com

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Terri Hall’s anxiety was back, making her hands shake as she tried to light a cigarette on the stoop of her faded apartment building. She had no appetite, and her mind galloped as she grasped for an answer to her latest setback.

In January, almost immediately after she got Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act, she had called a community mental health agency seeking help for the depression and anxiety that had so often consumed her.

Now she was getting therapy for the first time, and it was helping, no question. She just wished she could go more often. The agency, Seven Counties Services, has been deluged with new Medicaid recipients, and Ms. Hall has had to wait up to seven weeks between appointments with her therapist, Erin Riedel, whose caseload has more than doubled.

“She’s just awesome,” Ms. Hall said. “But she’s busy, very busy.”

The Affordable Care Act has paved the way for a vast expansion of mental health coverage in America, providing access for millions of people who were previously uninsured or whose policies did not include such coverage before. Under the law, mental health treatment is an “essential” benefit that must be covered by Medicaid and every private plan sold through the new online insurance marketplaces.

Expansion of Mental Health Care Hits Obstacles - NYTimes.com

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