New York Times:
A Rip-Off by Health Insurers?– A recent study by the New York Attorney General’s office suggests that health care insurance companies have been ripping off everybody (patients and providers). Essentially they found that Ingenix, a company owned by UnitedHealth Group, is used by UnitedHealth Group to determine what they should pay out-of-network physicians. As the article states, this creates an incentive for both companies to keep reimbursements low. One of the fascinating things that Ingenix does is to combine charges for procedures/activities done by NPs and PAs along with those performed by MDs and comes up with an average cost. In a health insurance version of CYA, Ingenix states that the fees are “for informational purposes only”. The article has a little more detail about this so I think it’s worth a read.
Fighting Bedsores With a Team Approach– I’m amazed that this requires a New York Times article, but it’s a fairly serious issue despite how little attention it gets in the hospital. Patients shouldn’t get “bedsores” (aka pressure ulcers) if people on the team are actually paying attention. The article is fairly comprehensive (for a newspaper) in listing the causes of bedsores, but I think another key point is that patients and their families should be aware of this and check/remind the nursing staff when they visit.
Study: Gel fails to stop HIV infection– Another blow to the fight against HIV/AIDS although I am not sure how promising this product was since it doesn’t seem that different in theory than what is used in condoms. The negative result may have been due to the low compliance rate by the test subjects but I think that portends a lack of compliance by potential users if the product was marketed.
Medicare won’t pay hospitals for errors– This talk has been out there for a while so I’m not sure why this is “news”. Perhaps it is new to Medicare. I’m not sure, but anyways it seems like a good idea to use money as an incentive to cut down on medical errors.
Wall Street Journal:
Internists Tell Feds to Lighten Up on Marijuana– This message brought to you by Dr. Cheech & Chong. . .The American College of Physicians is putting some pressure on the federal government to reclassify marijuana by acknowledging its medicinal value. Some of the comments by the readers of that blog are interesting to say the least.