Ilovebenefits’s Blog

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Now Here is Some Disruptive Health Care Technology

A cough into a cell phone may diagnose what ails you
U.S. and Australian researchers are developing technology to allow people to cough into their cell phones to find out if they have a cold, the flu or other respiratory diseases. The software differentiates the coughs by sound, comparing them to a pre-recorded database of coughs linked to all respiratory ailments. Telegraph (London)


November 12, 2009 Posted by | Creative disruption, healthcare | | Leave a comment

Who is Keeping a Total on the Tax Increases?

Editor’s note: No reduction in health premiums, increased taxes, cadillact taxes, requirements to purchase coverage — is anyone keeping track?  What ever you call it, it is money out of people’s pockets that they can’t spend on other things — social opportunity cost.

Obama No Longer Touting Campaign Pledge That Reform Will Save Families $2,500. Politico (11/12, Brown) reports that President Obama “ran for president on a promise of saving the typical family $2,500 a year in lower health care premiums,” but “that was then. No one in the White House is making such a pledge now.” The President “has barely uttered it since taking office. The last recorded mention by Obama was in May.” According to Politico, “No independent group has taken a comprehensive look at how the legislation would impact premiums for the 170 million Americans who receive insurance through their employers.” Sen. Evan Bayh “request[ed] a broad analysis” from the CBO “on premiums, which he said was ‘a basic, bottom-line question that we have to have answered before we can decide if this is an intelligent thing to do.’ Aides expect to see the report ahead the Senate floor debate on health care, which is causing anxiety among Democrats because of the uncertainty of what the famously cost-conservative CBO will produce. The possibility that congressional scorekeepers will conclude that premiums won’t flatten out or decrease would make centrists even more leery of reform, forcing adjustments to the bill.


WSJournal Claims House Surtax Would Contribute To 69% Cap Gains Tax Hike In 2011. The Wall Street Journal (11/12, subscription required), in an editorial notes that House Democrats’ proposed 5.4% surtax taxpayers making more than $500,000 or $1 million for joint filers applies to capital gains and dividends. The Journal contends that the new surtax, in conjunction with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts in 2011, amounts to a 69% capital gains tax increase.

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Cost, Federal Government, healthcare | , , , | 1 Comment

Utilization is Rising

Editor’s note: Cost increases are a function of two elements — utilization and unit price. Here we see that utilization is rising.

Medicare HMO Utilization

  Utilization for Medicare HMO Members
Utilization Measure 2007 2008
Hospital Days/1,000 Medicare HMO Members 1,497 1,502
Average Length of Stay (days) per Medicare Hospital Admission 6.0 6.0
Physician Encounters per Medicare HMO Member 8.9 9.0
Ambulatory Visits per Medicare HMO Member 3.6 3.7


Data Source: ePublic Payer Digest Managed Care Digest Series 2009. 2009 sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC.

November 12, 2009 Posted by | healthcare | , , | Leave a comment

Physician Use of Electronic Medical Records

Editor’s note: While some other countries are ahead of the US on deployment of electronic medical records, our trajectory of increase is rising.


Only 46% of U.S. doctors use electronic medical records, compared to 99% of doctors in the Netherlands and 97% of doctors in New Zealand and Norway.

Source: “A Survey Of Primary Care Physicians In Eleven Countries, 2009: Perspectives On Care, Costs, And Experiences,” Health Affairs, November 2, 2009, 

November 12, 2009 Posted by | healthcare | , , | 1 Comment

Commercial and Public Health Plan Rankings

US News ranks best insurance plans

Commercial plans were graded on 50 measures, Medicare plans on 44, and Medicaid plans on 41. Each plan got a score of 0 to 100 according to how well it performed compared with other commercial or Medicare or Medicaid plans. Member satisfaction made up 25 percent of the score, prevention and treatment together 60 percent, and NCQA accreditation 15 percent. Rank was determined by plan score.

Commercial health plans



How to choose a plan

November 12, 2009 Posted by | healthcare | , , | Leave a comment

New More Costly Procedures Aren’t Always Better

Angioplasty no better than drugs to open kidney arteries
Angioplasty to open clogged kidney arteries is no more effective than medication alone and comes with a higher risk of complications, British researchers said. The study found similar rates of heart and kidney problems and death between the two groups after three years, but 20% of patients undergoing angioplasty suffered complications within the first month, including kidney failure, amputation and death. The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)/The Associated Press (11/11)

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Chronic conditions, healthcare, quality | , , | Leave a comment

Hospital Profits

The nation’s 5,010 nonfederal community hospitals posted a $17 billion overall profit in fiscal 2008, a decline of 61% from the previous year’s data, according to new statistics from the American Hospital Association.Read more at

November 12, 2009 Posted by | healthcare | , , | Leave a comment

Fee For Care vs. Fee For Service

Research examines potential for savings with bundled payments Moving U.S. health care from fee-for-service to a system of bundled payments for providers is one of the best ways to control health care costs, according to Rand Corp. researchers. U.S. government estimates peg the savings at $1 billion a year, but the Rand team said applying the concept to six common chronic diseases would boost savings even higher.

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Health care delivery, healthcare, Reimbursement | , , , | Leave a comment