On August 1st, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released updates to their guidelines for the prevention, detection, and management of high blood pressure. This is the first change to this guidance in 14 years and means that nearly half of all Americans, 46%, now classify as having high blood pressure.
In 2016, Americans spent an average of about $9,000 per person on healthcare. This figure is almost double what patients in comparable high-income countries such as Canada, Germany, Denmark and Japan spent on healthcare in the same period. According to the biennial study published by the the International Federation of Health Plans (IFHP), the average cost for an MRI in the United States was $1,119 in 2015. This compares quite unfavorably with prices in other nations. The same MRI could be performed for $503 that year in Switzerland and only $215 in Australia. Having appendix removal surgery in America carried a price tag of almost $16,000, while in Switzerland one could have the same operation for only $6,040, and in Spain it was a mere $2,003.
In March of 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule that would exempt states with at least 85 percent of their Medicaid managed care population from most access-monitoring requirements for services provided through the traditional fee-for-service avenue. This would immediately exempt at least 17 states from existing access monitoring requirements, and could also exempt another dozen states whose managed-care enrollment is close to the threshold.
"The pen is mightier than the sword" is an age-old adage, coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar would agree, and would go on to add that the pen is also mightier than Congress.
Opioids. The very word can strike fear into a medical practitioner’s heart nowadays. While they are certainly an effective tool for managing pain in the short term, the dangers of extended use are causing serious problems in our country, not only in the medical industry, but the fields of criminal justice, mental health, economics, even the arena of marriage and family is being negatively impacted by the epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction.
A nine-month-old baby was born with a fatal heart defect in China. Suffering from a rare condition which was extremely difficult to repair, the doctors were concerned about performing the delicate surgery. The medical team decided to build a full-sized model of the infant’s heart with a 3-D printer in order to pre-plan and practice the risky and complex surgery. Thanks in part to the accuracy the 3-D model enabled them to have, the doctors were successful and the little boy is expected to survive with few lasting effects.
Water is a fundamental human need. From drinking to cooking to bathing, everyone must have water. But polluted water isn’t just dirty, it is deadly. Cholera. Botulism. Dysentery. These are just a few of the many diseases that can be transmitted by water. Some 1.8 million people die every year of waterborne diarrheal diseases. Tens of millions of others around the world suffer serious illnesses from an array of water-related ailments, many of which are easily preventable.
HB 21, signed into law by Governor Rick Scott on March 19, 2018, imposes a number of legal requirements on health care practitioners who prescribe controlled substances, particularly opioids. This new law encompasses 205 pages and imposes new obligations on practitioners that carry penalties for noncompliance. The purpose of this article is to provide a summary of the provisions of HB 21, and provide practitioners with the information they need to comply with the new law. Unless otherwise noted, the provisions of this law go into effect on July 1, 2018.
As deductibles rise and co-pay amounts get higher, the number of people leaving the country to have lower cost surgery elsewhere continues to grow. This “medical tourism” has previously been mostly limited to cosmetic surgery and and dental work that is not generally covered by insurers, but now more and more people are looking for other types of surgeries internationally, either to save costs, find a shorter waiting list or to get access to treatments not approved by the FDA.
As one of over 750,000 practicing physicians in the United States, it seems impossible that you could influence the field by advocating for change on your own. Think of what you might accomplish though, if you were to add your name to the roster of a more powerful force, a medical association with thousands of members? Wouldn’t that lend your voice real power and strength?