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Advocacy group: 26,000 die prematurely without health insurance
June 20th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Advocacy group: 26,000 die prematurely without health insurance

A national health care consumer advocacy group estimates that three Americans die every hour as a result of not having health insurance.  

According to "Dying for Coverage," the latest report by Families USA, 72 Americans die each day, 500 Americans die every week and approximately Americans 2,175 die each month, due to lack of health insurance.

"The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress to address an American tragedy and an American shame," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director Families USA. "The fact remains that for the millions of Americans without health coverage, only the Affordable Care offers the promise of access to affordable coverage and to a longer and healthier life." 

Families USA has been a staunch supporter of President Obama's health care reform law.
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Consumers beware: Health care costs all over the map
May 31st, 2012
08:46 AM ET

Consumers beware: Health care costs all over the map

What you pay for medical procedures can vary drastically from city to city, hospital to hospital, even doctor to doctor - and there's not a whole lot you can do about it, according to a new report in Consumer Reports magazine.

Nancy Metcalf, the magazine's senior program editor and author of the article, says she was stunned by some of the numbers.

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Seriously? Doctors say they're underpaid
May 1st, 2012
10:55 AM ET

Seriously? Doctors say they're underpaid

Anthony Youn, M.D., is a plastic surgeon in metro Detroit. He is the author of “In Stitches,” a humorous memoir about growing up Asian American and becoming a doctor.

Full disclosure: I have no complaints about how much I make.

But many other physicians are not as satisfied - a recent study by Medscape revealed that 49% of doctors believe they're not fairly compensated. Of primary care physicians, this percentage increases to 54%.

It’s no myth that doctors are some of the highest paid professionals in the country. So why are they complaining?

It’s likely because of situations like Dr. Peterson’s.
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26% had health insurance gap in 2011, study finds
April 19th, 2012
06:23 PM ET

26% had health insurance gap in 2011, study finds

The fate of health care reform legislation is still up in the air, resting with the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the law's constitutionality in late June.

But today's news about health insurance isn't about the justices; it's about the people who had gaps in coverage in 2011.

The Commonwealth Fund Health Insurance Tracking Survey of U.S. Adults found that 26% of Americans had a hole in their health insurance coverage in 2011. That would equate to about 48 million people who were uninsured at some point during the year, the Commonwealth Fund said.

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Health care costs to surpass total income?
March 14th, 2012
03:13 PM ET

Health care costs to surpass total income?

Take a close look at the chart up above. It’s taken from a new paper, in the Annals of Family Medicine. If you believe the doctors who put it together, it tells one of the scariest stories you’ll ever hear.

The gentle upward slope represents the median income for an American family, projected through 2035. The lighter colored curve is projected average spending on health care - insurance premiums, and out of pocket costs.

With current trends, the authors say, in less than 20 years the average family will face medical costs that are higher than their total income. All of it.
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Could electronic medical records add costs?
March 5th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Could electronic medical records add costs?

Electronic streamlining of medical records has been touted as a way to save money, against the backdrop of a health care system that is characterized as wasteful. Electronic medical records (or "Health IT") are supposed to save billions of dollars by eliminating duplicate or unnecessary testing.

But a new study is saying just the opposite: Health IT may actually add cost to health care instead of curbing it.

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Obama administration extends one deadline on birth control coverage
January 20th, 2012
05:19 PM ET

Obama administration extends one deadline on birth control coverage

The Obama Administration is standing by a decision to require all insurance plans to cover the use of contraceptives, but said Friday it would give some employers an additional year to comply.

The rule, which goes into effect August 1, 2012, requires all insurance plans to cover the cost of birth control. Many non-profits with religious affiliations, such as Catholic universities and hospitals, say that will force them to violate their basic tenets.

The Department of Health and Services announced Friday those employers would have until August 1, 2013, to meet the new requirement.
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Diabetes affects drop out rate, lifetime earnings
January 10th, 2012
11:08 AM ET

Diabetes affects drop out rate, lifetime earnings

Diabetes is contributing to high school dropout rates and reducing lifetime earnings for young people, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Health Affairs.

Researchers found the high school dropout rate among diabetics was 6% higher than the dropout rate among their peers.  They also found the likelihood that a diabetic student will attend college is 8 to 13% lower and that over the course of a lifetime, a diabetic could lose more than $160,000 in wages.

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Protect yourself against health insurance reversal
Joan Gagliardi was liable for $1.2 million when her insurance comany reversed its approval for her treatment.
December 9th, 2011
02:03 PM ET

Protect yourself against health insurance reversal

In 2008, Joan Gagliardi was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease that caused scarring on internal organs, including her windpipe. It began to choke off her ability to breathe, but doctors at the University of Miami Hospital kept the damage in check with a treatment known as IVIG: Infusions of immunoglobulin.

The bad news came in 2010, when Gagliardi learned that her insurance company, Highmark Blue Shield of Pennsylvania, which had previously approved the expensive treatments, had reversed itself. The denial was retroactive, leaving Gagliardi liable for $1.2 million or approximately $50,000 for each infusion.

Fortunately for Gagliardi, the hospital didn’t press its claim, choosing instead to negotiate with Highmark. This year they settled up, with Highmark agreeing to pay $382,229. Gagliardi was off the hook.

Surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for an insurer to reverse itself, even after a claim is paid. State laws vary, but companies often take up to a year to perform “utilization reviews,” in which they re-examine claims that they’ve already processed.
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Why end-of-life planning saves money
October 4th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Why end-of-life planning saves money

It's something no one wants to think about, but a reality if worst happens: What do you want to happen if you are on the brink of death and can't communicate?

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that advance directives are linked to less Medicare spending, lower likelihood of dying in a hospital, and higher usage of hospice care in areas of the U.S. that tend to spend the most on end of life care generally.  Advance directives, also called living wills, are documents that specify what kind of treatment you do or don't want to be given in various situations when your life is on the line.

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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