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Consumer Driven Health Care

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Consumers Need To Take Back Their Medical Care And Healthcare Dollars

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

A consumer driven healthcare system is the solution to the dysfunctional and unaffordable healthcare system that americans are presently experiencing.

President Trump wants to create the conditions for consumers to take responsibility for their medical care and their healthcare dollars.

The negative noise in the mainstream media should be ignored.

The Obamacare health insurance exchanges have failed. The Democrats and establishment Republicans should realize that the health insurance exchange plan was a defective system that it can not be repaired with patches and more money.

President Trump has signed an executive order to permit private associations to sell insurance. There are many associations that a person could belong too. Consumers could shop for the right association at the right price.

Democrats are behaving as if associations are a foreign enemy.

UnitedHealth has contracted with AARP (an association) to sell Medicare supplemental insurance. UnitedHealth sells this insurance across state lines.

USAA has contracted with Humana to sell Medicare supplemental insurance and Medicare Drug coverage.

There are many supplemental plans that consumers can choose from in these associations. These plans are sold across state lines and are competitive.

The government has to change the tax law to treat individual healthcare insurance plans bought through the associations to be paid for with pre-tax dollars just as the employer sponsored group plans do.

However, associations selling healthcare insurance are only the first step in empowering consumers.

A well-known retired physician (DEF M.D.) sent me his view on what consumers need to be aware of to survive any healthcare system. He calls it

“My Three Rules For Survival”

Remember my three rules for survival:

1) Stay the hell away from doctors.

They always either want to do something or prescribe something, and all too frequently do both.

A large part of this physician reflex is their need to practive defensive medicine. Physicians are afraid they might miss something and get sued.

Major tort reform is necessary in most states. Defensive medicine accounts for $250 billion to $700 billion dollars in unnecessary expenses each year.

I have outlined the steps necessary to remedy the malpractice (tort) crisis and its resulting overuse of testing and medication.

If anyone in President Trump’s administration wants to review the issue in full click on this link.

http://stanfeld.com/?s=Tort+reform

Nobody confronts the reality you mentioned , people are too fat, they drink too much and smoke, AND they don’t even think about the importance of, and benefits from, exercise.

 I started a war on obesity many years ago. Public officials and poly wonks have ignored my suggestions.

It would be worthwhile to read my post about obesity.

http://stanfeld.com/?s=war+on+obesity

The cost to all of us (including them) of all this denial of personal responsibility is huge!  We need to find ways to get people to focus on taking care of themselves, or to create cost incentives that will encourage them to do so.

While you are in this reading mood you should check out my pleas for the importance of patient responsibility.

ttp://stanfeld.com/?s=patient+responsibility

We simply cannot continue on the path we are on. I don’t recall ever seeing a patient on a “scooter”, and many in wheelchairs that are obese, and only getting fatter and fatter over time.

     2) Take as little medicine as you can.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are continuing to drive up the cost of their products and are making enormous profits as a result.  Data is available re: the necessity of people getting medicines that they don’t really need, especially if taken long term on an ongoing basis.

To that, one can add the cost of unnecessary procedures that often leave patients worse off than they were before.  Direct to the public advertising of prescription medications creates demand that is often unaccompanied by benefit.

More and more current information regarding side effects and late effects of medications need to be provided, and not just put into the “fine print” on the package stuffers.

     3) Stay out of hospitals.

 They are dangerous places, with a high prevalence of patient injuries and deaths due to various sorts of medical errors that occur all too frequently, despite a host of quality improvement projects that are well-intended, but would be better in terms of effectiveness if they were made public on a regular basis.

 Scott Atlas makes good arguments for encouraging patients to “price shop” for services they must have.  To that information should be appended information about outcomes of what is proposed, which could, over time, become both hospital-specific and physician-specific.

I have expanded on Scott Atlas’ Wall Street Journal article in my last blog.

http://stanfeld.com/the-plan-to-empower-consumers-of-healthcare/

Most doctors and most hospitals have not much of a clue as to the outcomes of the services they provide their patients.

And, that is probably plenty for today.  DEF”

Consumers need to be educated to become aware of the many pitfalls involved in their new responsibility.

The educational process can be accomplished with online information and chat sessions. The government could provide the education necessary.

Consumers also need financial incentives to be encouraged to be responsible for their care and their healthcare dollars

This can be accomplished with my ideal medical saving accounts.

http://stanfeld.com/?s=ideal+medical+savings+accounts

Then and only then can we have a consumer driven healthcare system that will lower the cost of healthcare.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone

 All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2017 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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The Plan To Empower Consumers Of Healthcare

 Stanley Feld M.D., FACP,MACE

The only way to empower consumers of healthcare is to allow them be responsible for their health and healthcare dollars.

The delivery of medical and surgical care has progressed markedly in the last sixty years. Life expectancy has also increased.

At the same time medical care has become unaffordable and the cost of healthcare has become unsustainable.

The incidence of obesity has risen every year. Over fifty percent of Americans are obese. The percentage is rising yearly.

Obesity begets many chronic diseases and subsequently the complications of these diseases.

Physicians can treat these complications fairly well but the treatment of these complications comes at a high cost.

How do you decrease obesity in America?

How do you get people to be responsible for their health and healthcare dollars?

One of the key elements in decreasing obesity is to give consumers financial incentives to use the healthcare system efficiently.

ObamaCare went in the wrong direction. Its regulations—including required “essential benefits”—raised prices on these plans and limited their availability.”

The only incentive Obamacare provided was the incentive to overuse the system. This was especially true for patients on Medicaid. They had zero premiums and deductibles.

A second tool for motivating patients to consider price is large liberalized health savings accounts. These tax-sheltered accounts are generally used to pay for the noncatastrophic expenses that form the bulk of medical care.

First, equip consumers to consider prices.”

 Critics always claim this is unrealistic: Are you supposed to shop around from the back of the ambulance?

 The critics use the ambulance excuse argument to eliminate the possibility of consumers using their own judgment to make price decisions.

But emergency care represents only 6% of health expenditures.”

“For privately insured adults under 65, almost 60% of spending is on elective outpatient care. “

The critics argument is that consumers do not know how to shop prices. Consumers are smarter than the critics think. It would be easy to teach consumers to shop prices.”

http://stanfeld.com/the-failure-of-the-republican-establishment-to-repeal-and-replace-obamacare/

“My ideal medical saving account provides that financial incentive to not overuse the healthcare system. The many articles about my ideal medical saving accounts are attached to this link.

Likewise, nearly 60% of Medicaid money goes to outpatient care.”

 Medicaid patients also overuse the healthcare system.

“ For the top 1% of spenders—a group responsible for more than a quarter of all health expenditures—a full 45% is outpatient.”

These patients can be identified as outliers and educational vehicles can be created to decrease this overuse of the system.

In my opinion Medical Savings Account are better than Health Savings Accounts. Medical Savings Accounts take the money out of the healthcare insurance company’s hands and delivers it to consumers.

Both HSA’s and MSAs have the unique advantage of providing and financial incentive to save.

When people have savings to protect in HSAs, the cost of care drops without harmful effects on health. 

 The financial incentive decreases the overuse of the healthcare system.

“ According to a 2012 study in Health Affairs if even half of Americans with employer-sponsored insurance enrolled in this kind of coverage, U.S. health expenditures would fall by an estimated $57 billion a year.”

My ideal Medical Savings Accounts provide an even a greater financial incentive and should decrease costs even further.

“ HSAs should be available to all Americans, including seniors on Medicare. Given that seniors use the most health care, motivating them to seek value is crucial to driving prices lower.”

Scott Atlas has publicized the obvious. This would apply to Medicaid recipient also. The details for Medicaid recipients can be found in my article “My Ideal Medical Savings Accounts Is Democratic. “

The maximum contribution to a MSAs should be raised to $6000 or $7000 dollars. If a consumer get sick and experiences a cost of $6000 he should receive 100% (first dollar) coverage through a reinsurance policy that would cost less than $6000.

There can be many variations on this theme for the consumers benefit.

 When a person with an HSA dies, the funds should be allowed to roll over tax-free to surviving family members.  

This financial incentive should be added to My ideal Medical Savings Account.

“The information that patients require to assess value must be made radically more visible. A 2014 study on magnetic resonance imaging showed that price-transparency programs reduced costs by 18.7%.”

A consumer driven system would force providers to compete for patients. Information on price could easily be provided to consumers by the government and the healthcare insurance industry.

“The most compelling motivation for doctors and hospitals to post rates would be knowing that they are competing for price-conscious patients empowered with control of their own money.”

 In his age of technology and rapid communication telemedicine should be promoted and paid for. One way to do it is to permit physicians to practice telemedicine across state lines.

It would supply instant access to expertize at an affordable cost.

Everything possible should be done to encourage consumer responsibility and provider competition.

The present tax code does the opposite. Consumers’ in-group plans provided by large and small corporations receive their healthcare insurance from the corporation with tax-free dollars.

The larger the corporation the more leverage the corporation has for negotiating the premiums with the healthcare insurance companies.

The younger and healthier the corporate employees are the lower the premiums.

This is where the formation of associations with larger memberships of all ages fits in to lowering the price of healthcare. Large associations would have great leverage in negotiating price with insurance companies. They would also spread the risk.

If financial incentive with my ideal medical saving account was added to the price the association negotiated and the consumer paid for the premium, usage would fall and the cost of insurance would decrease.

Tax deductibility must be given to these “individual” insurance policy holders and association policy holders so they are, in reality, paying for healthcare insurance with pre-tax dollars as the corporate group plan policy holders.

These simple changes in the law would result in an affordable healthcare system that was market driven by consumers. The changes would force providers and the healthcare insurance industry to become competitive.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone

 All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2017 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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The Failure Of The Republican Establishment To Repeal and Replace Obamacare

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The Republican Establishment’s Failure

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

I am coming to the conclusion that the Republican establishment does not want to Repair the Healthcare System.

The Republican establishment has the same goal as the Democratic establishment.

Recently the mainstream media is saying that a single party payer system is looking good.

Neither party has any interest is having consumers control their healthcare dollars. It looks as if both parties want the government to control the consumer’s healthcare dollars.

All the politicians ignore the fact that government control is unaffordable. It also ends up not working.

The best example is the bureaucratic VA Hospital System and its system wide corruption.

A reader wrote:

I have read your last blog post carefully and agree with many of the points put forward but there is a glaring omission.” 

 “How are patients supposed to be responsible for their healthcare dollars when there is absolutely no transparency and no consistency in pricing.”

The lack of transparency is a major defect in our present healthcare system.

Only 20% of consumers use the healthcare system at any one time. Eighty percent of the consumers have not run into the lack of transparency problem in the healthcare system.

Most consumers do not care about transparency because they have first dollar coverage provided by their employer. They think their medical care is free. They believe they have excellent healthcare insurance.

President Obama took care of that notion with Obamacare. The defective structure of Obamacare caused healthcare insurance premiums and deductibles to skyrocket. First dollar healthcare insurance became too expensive for most employers.

Employers stopped providing first dollar coverage. Middle class employees are now noticing that out of pocket expenses have made their healthcare insurance unaffordable. Consumers have tried to compare prices of competitive providers. They have discovered that it is impossible!

Consumers are becoming aware of the lack of transparency. They have been astonished by this lack of transparency.

There is nothing in the new Republican bill that addresses Republican politicians’ awareness that the lack of transparency is a major defect in the healthcare system.

The lack of transparency is only one of the major defects in our healthcare system.

There is nothing in the Republican bill that speaks to the consumers’ responsibility for their health and healthcare dollars. Consumer driven healthcare is completely ignored.

There is nothing in the bill that addresses effective tort reform. The Massachusetts Medical Society survey showed that defensive testing to avoid lawsuits costs the healthcare system between $250 billion to $700 billion dollars a year.

The lack of the development of systems of care for chronic diseases cost another $700 billion dollars a year that our healthcare system does not address. There is nothing in the bill that emphasizes this very important defect in the healthcare system.

The Republican establishment thinks consumers are too stupid to take care of themselves.

The mainstream media likes to tell us that people love entitlements. The public does not want to give up these entitlements.

My question is how come less than 9 million people signed up for Obamacare’s individual healthcare plans last year if they love entitlements?

It is because they cannot afford to buy the health exchange insurance even though 85% of the premiums of those 9 million consumers are subsided by the government. Their high deductibles are not subsidized.

The Republicans are going claim they are promoting health savings accounts. The public is not told the amount of money they can put into a health savings account or whether it will provide first dollar coverage over that amount if they get sick.

There is no financial incentive for consumers to be responsible for their healthcare or their healthcare dollars.

My Ideal Medical Saving Account is a much better idea.

These are only a few of the major defects in the Republican establishment’s concept to fix the healthcare system.

President Obama did some of the awful things to Obamacare through rules and regulations after certain vested interests complained about the law. Obamacare’s rules and regulations have to be eliminated

There were crony waivers that would make one’s blood boil. In fact, elected congressional members got the best exemptions.

It is becoming apparent that congress doesn’t want to fix the healthcare system for the majority of Americans. The congressional establishment wants to control consumers.

Socialism does not work!

Socialsim for blog

Our political establishment does not tell us about the economic result in other countrys’ single party payer universal healthcare systems.

We don’t have to go to other countries. We only have to go to the indigent areas in California were everyone is covered by Medicaid.

The Republican establishment needs to get off the stick before all of them are kicked out of congress.

Just imagine the healthcare systems savings if every consumer were empowered to shop for the best healthcare at the best price.

The result would be a free market healthcare system in which competition would cleanse the system and make it affordable to everyone.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” is, mine and mine alone.

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2017 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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How Can I Be So Misinterpreted?

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Let The Buyer Beware: Medicare Part D

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

The mystery of buying drugs under Medicare Part D increases each year. The plans offered become more costly and complicated. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare_Part_D

Medicare did not cover outpatient prescription drugs until January 1, 2006, when it implemented the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.

Congress authorized Medicare Part D with the heading the “Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.”

Private insurance companies administer Medicare Part D plans for the government. The government is not allowed to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies.

The VA healthcare system negotiates prices with the pharmaceutical companies. The prices are at least 60% lower than the Part D prices.

Multiple plans are offered with increasing premium prices and deductibles each year.

The increases in deductibles are significant. Below are the increases between 2016 and 2017. Most seniors do not pay attention to the increase in premiums, deductibles or coverage because they automatically enroll each year.

They become aware of the changes changes when they go to pay for their medication

Initial Deductible:
will be increased by $40 to $400 in 2017.

Initial Coverage Limit:
will increase from $3,310 in 2016 to $3,700 in 2017.

Out-of-Pocket Threshold:
will increase from $4,850 in 2016 to $4,950 in 2017.

Coverage Gap (donut hole):
begins once you reach your Medicare Part D plan’s initial coverage limit ($3,700 in 2017) and ends when you spend a total of $4,950 in 2017.


In 2017, Part D enrollees will receive a 60% discount on the total retail cost of their brand-name drugs purchased while in the donut hole.

Generally, not all drugs are covered at the same out of pocket cost to the beneficiary. This gives participants incentives to choose certain drugs over others. This is most often implemented—as is the case for drug coverage for those not on Medicare—through incentives to use generic drugs over brand-name drugs.

The incentive is also often implemented via a system of tiered formularies in which some brand-name drugs are less expensive than others and not subject to step therapy.

Generic drugs are less expensive than brand named drugs. Patients learned this quickly. They encouraged their physicians to provide them with a prescription for generic drugs.

When patients buy drugs with Medicare Part D the deductible price is the patients’ cash outlay. However, the Medicare Part D plan charges patients the total retail price of the drug against their donut.

For example if a 90 day supply of a generic drug is $10 and the retail price is $60 dollars, the $60 is charged against the patient’s donut to be added to future purchases.

If patients paid $10 cash already shouldn’t only $50 of the $60 be charged against the donut?

Many generics can be purchased for a cash price or using a discount drug card coupon for $10 without using Medicare Part D and incurring the $60 retail charge against a donut.

Many generics can be purchased for less using a discount drug card coupon than the cash price a senior on Medicare Part D has to pay using Medicare Part D insurance.

It is not uncommon for senior patients to reach their donut in less than a year. At that time those senior patients have to pay 100% (60% in 2017) of the retail price for a drug until they reach $4,950.

The amount is an additional cash price of $1,250.

It was difficult to figure this out before discount drug cards became available.

How do these discount drugs card work and the discount drug card companies make money?

The Middle Men are:

“1.    Cardholder – the consumer

  1. Pharmacy – the retail outlet in which the purchase is made
  2. Pharmaceutical Company – the manufacturer of the medication
  3. Adjudicator – the organization that negotiates the discounts with the drug makers
  4. Card Marketer – the organization whose brand is on the card
  5. Card Marketer Affiliate – an organization that assists the Card Marketer in distribution

 Each time a card is used there is a transaction fee applied to the purchase price. 

 That fee is split 3 or 4 ways (though perhaps not evenly) between the Pharmacy, the Adjudicator, the Card Marketer and their Affiliate.

This transaction fee comes at the Cardholder’s expense.

However, usually the negotiated discount cost of the medication far exceeds the transaction fee so the Cardholder still wins. 

For example, the retail price for a medication is $100. The prescription discount card has negotiated a 40% discount, so the cost would be $60 but there is a $10 transaction fee. So the Cardholder pays $70 instead of $100. Of the $10 transaction fee, the Pharmacy might take $2, the Adjudicator $2 and the Card Marketer $6.

The Card Marketer might pay out $1 to their marketing

affiliate.”

Many Medicare Part D patients have figured out how to optimize their drug cost through the use of the discount drug cards.

None of these government policy manipulations are to senior recipients of Medicare Part D advantage. They all benefit the middlemen.

A simple solution is to change the Medicare Part D law so the government can negotiate the cost of drugs just as all the middlemen in the Discounted Drug Card industry are negotiating the price of drugs to the advantage of seniors.

Sometimes the discount cards yield different discounts in different pharmacies in the same zip code.

Sometimes the pharmaceutical companies figure out how to combine two medications that are just as effective when taken separately to increase the cash price to senior patients.

These companies do it with FDA approval.

I became aware of the vast price differences recently with two commonly used drugs Dutasterile (Brand name Avodart) and Tamusulosin (Flow Max). Both drugs have been on the market long enough to be sold as generic drugs.

Using the Good RX discount card these are the variation in prices for the combination drug and the drugs sold separately in one zip code.

Dutasterilde +

Tamsulosin 90

Dutasterile 90 Tamusulosin 90
Walgreens $183.00 $183.08 $113.93
Kroger $316.98 $45.61 $30.62
CVS $388.69 $84.63 $58.62
Tom Thumb $391.85 49.85 $31.85
Albertson $391.60 $52.60 $31.85
Walmart $475.10 $398.71 $55.23
Target $388.69 $388.71 $136.41

Table 1

None of the pharmacies receive an appropriate discount for the combination of Dutasterile plus Tamulosin. Only Kroger’s negotiator received an appropriate discount for the two drugs sold separately. The total price is $76.23 for 90 pills vs. $316.98 for the combination.

However, seniors have run into a problem in shopping for the best price in a neighborhood.

The government provides a bonus to physician practices that have meaningful use electronic medical records.

One criterion for a meaningful use electronic medical record is the electronically ordering prescriptions for patients.

If a patient usually used the Wal-Mart Pharmacy that telephone number would be in the record. The physician’s prescription would automatically be sent to the Wal-Mart Pharmacy. If the physician wrote for the combination for it would cost $475.10. If the physician wrote the prescription for each medication separately in would cost the patient $453.94 as opposed to cost him $76.23 at Kroger’s.

Compounding the complexity of the electric medical records unintended consequence the pharmacist would automatically fill the combination prescription using that senior’s Medicare Part D insurance. It would be much cheaper than the cash price.

The senior would pay only $146.50 for the combination but his donut would be charged the full retail price of $475.10.

The physician’s office should be aware of the difference in price between the generic combination and the generic drugs sold separately. However, that is not the physicians job.

He should be able to give the patient a paper prescription for both the combination and separate medication so the patient would be able to shop for the best price in his zip code if he was so inclined.

Clearly Medicare Part D is a mess and needs straightening out.

The discount drug cards are not the answer on top of the rising Medicare Part D premiums.

Many retired seniors are living month to month on a pension. The Medicare Part D premiums are paid with after tax dollars not pre-tax dollars.

Many seniors simply cannot afford to pay for their medication. If they do not take their medication they will develop complications of their disease.

Medicare Part A and B will cost the government more and become more unsustainable.

A few simple fixes can solve the problems in Medicare Part D that policy makers and congressmen do not seem to be aware of.

Patients must be responsible for their medical care and their healthcare dollars.

It would be nice if the government would help a little with fixes in information and policies that work for senior patients.

In the meantime it is imperative to “Let the Patient Beware.”

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are mine and mine alone.

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2017 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE


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Profoundly Disappointed

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

I am profoundly disappointed in Paul Ryan, the Republican caucus and the RINO establishment for introducing the Paul Ryan bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

It doesn’t completely repeal Obamacare or completely replace it.

In fact the supposed anti- entitlement party (Republicans) are adding another entitlement.

They are even leaving the healthcare insurance industry in charge of the money and the access to care.

It doesn’t even fulfill the five principles President Trump listed in his address to congress.

Those five principles alone would not Repair the Healthcare System.

The bill does nothing to encourage consumers to be responsible for their health and their healthcare dollars.

Consumers must be involved in driving the healthcare system in order for the healthcare system to be viable.

The bill continues to allow the government and the healthcare insurance companies to drive the cost and the healthcare system.

The Republican bill does not provide incentives for consumers to use their healthcare dollars wisely.

It does not include malpractice reform.

If President Trump buys the nonsense Republicans are calling a repeal and replacement for Obamacare, then the RINO’s have pulled the wool over his eyes.

It would be a gigantic mistake to push this bill in its present form. You would be producing political capital for the politically bankrupt Democrats.

This bill is a typical bait and switch. Rand Paul is correct. It is Obamacare lite.

It does not put consumers in charge. It keeps the healthcare insurance industry in full control of medicine, healthcare and the government.

Rather than discontinuing an entitlement it creates another one.

Refundable tax credit is another term for redistribution of wealth. You give money to everyone. You then take it back from some and let the others have it.

It does not repeal most of the Obamacare regulations.

It extends many of the programs past 2019.

President Trump, it does not help drain the swamp as you promised. It makes the swamp worse.

The insurance companies are not returned to a free market. It is a clever way to support the insurance companies by switching from a mandate and penalty to a tax credit (giving the money away to everyone).

This is another entitlement to further enrich the healthcare insurance industry.

Americans elected these Republican politicians to drain the swamp. This bill is no different than Obamacare.

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons said:

Refundable” tax credits – for those who don’t owe taxes – are still a subsidy. It is still redistribution of wealth, with winners (those who get the subsidy) and losers (those who pay for it). And the chief winner is the “health plan.” It gets money; the supposed beneficiary may get nothing, or only rationed care from a narrow network.

“The problem is comprehensive third-party payment,” Orient adds. “The bill perpetuates this disastrous concept. A true free-market bill – “there shall be a free market in health insurance” – would remove all federal mandates, subsidies, barriers to competition, or protections or advantages for cartels.”

“Instead of returning the insurance market to the vigor of a free market, the government will be supporting it with tax credits – the flip side of the ACA insurance penalty.”

Americans are not stupid. The Republican bill will expose all the Republicans who are for the bill. They are not working for the good of the people

Democrats have already demonstrated they do not work for the people.

An group like the tea party can put up candidates against these guys and elect people who are for the people.

Where are the plans for consumer driven healthcare, patient centered healthcare, malpractice reform and the physician patient relationship?

Where are incentives for consumers to focus on their health, to help cure the obesity problem in order to decrease the incidence of diabetes and other chronic diseases?

Where is a free insurance market?

Paul Ryan’s plan is the road to failure.

The next step would be replacement of the Republican’s failure with a government controlled single party payer system.

It will fail as it is in so many countries.

President Trump. Wake up!!! Keep your promise to the American people.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” is, mine and mine alone.
All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2017 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
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What Is Patient-Centered Healthcare?

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

Patient-Centered Healthcare is a new buzz phrase. It has become popular among Republicans in the last few years.

I have a feeling most people do not know what physicians mean by patient-centered healthcare.

The true definition is that patients are in the center of the medical care interaction. Patients determine their needs and their physicians. Patients drive the medical encounter. Neither the government nor the insurance industries drive the medical encounter.

A fatal floor in Obamacare was that President Obama wanted the federal government to control the healthcare system.

President Trump’s goal is to have patients in control of their own health and healthcare dollars. It is not a problem if the government or employers provide those healthcare dollars.

I believe Tom Price M.D. understands that the only system that will work is a system in which the consumers (patients) are responsible for their own health and healthcare dollars.

The government’s job is to provide incentives in the healthcare system for consumers to become responsible for their health and healthcare dollars.

I am not at all sure the Republican congressional leadership understands the definition or value of patient- centered care.

Obamacare provided just the opposite. Obamacare provided incentives for consumers/patients to be dependent of government.

This fundamental tenet of patient-centered care was tested by Stewart, et.al. in 2000. 

 Experts studied audio taped doctor-patient interactions while patients also rated these same interactions. 

 Expert opinion could not be correlated with positive results, but patient-perceived patient-centered care correlated with “better recovery from their discomfort and concern, better emotional health.

 A Wikipedia definition of “Patient centered healthcare” does not exist. There are many consumer-driven healthcare definitions.

Most of the Republicans are talking about patient centered healthcare. However, they start and end with Health Savings Accounts and Consumer Driven Healthcare.

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologist defined patient-centered healthcare in its diabetes guidelines of 1996 and 2002. (on request)

The guidelines were a System of Intensive Self-Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

The Type 2 Diabetic was taught to become a “professor of his/her diabetes.”

The goal was to get the diabetic blood sugar as close to normal as possible. It was shown that normalizing the blood sugar helped avoided the vascular complication of diabetes. The treatment of the vascular complications of diabetes absorbed 80% of the money spent on diabetes.

Patients live with their disease 24/7. Blood sugars are very variable. Patients need to learn how to adjust to these variables by managing their medications and lifestyle.

Patients taking a pill or a shot will not control their blood sugar unless they understand the medication and how to adjust it to have the greatest affect on the blood sugar.

The only way a patient can understand how to control their blood sugar is for them to understand how their blood sugar affects the effectiveness of the medication and how their medications and lifestyle affects their blood sugar.

This same phenomenon applies to most chronic diseases.

The only way to decrease the complications of chronic diseases is for patient to drive the treatment of their disease.

This in turn will be the only way to control healthcare costs. This is what I mean when I say patients should be in control of their health.

As an added incentive to control costs, patients should be in control of their healthcare dollars so they figure out how to use medication most affectively.

In the February 2017 Endocrine News published by the Endocrine Society there was an article interviewing four endocrinologists for their definition of patient centered care.

“In 2001, The Institute of Medicine published a book called Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century.”

“In it, the institute identified six aims for improvement of healthcare delivery, one of which was “patient-centered care,” defined as “providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.”

The Institute of Medicine’s definition moves patients’ needs and attitudes toward patients being in the center of care. It does not place them as responsible for the management of their care. It does not include patients’ responsibility for their care.

All four of the endocrinologists got close to the definition of patient centered care. Only Carol Greenlee, MD, FACE, FACP, of Western Slope Endocrinology in Grand Junction, Colorado nailed the definition. Dr. Greenlee is the only physician in private practice.

She said:

“One of the most important things is partnership with the patient and what is called “contextualized” care, which means taking into account a patient’s needs and circumstances, goals and values.

It is also called developing a physician/patient relationship.

Another aspect is moving from the physician being at the center of the care model, with staff working to help the physician (doing tasks for the physician or other clinician such as “rooming” the patient or “scheduling” the patient for the clinician) to the staff also “taking care of the patient” as their job, with different roles on the patient-centered care team (getting the patient in for a needed appointment).

It is doing what is best for the patient (not giving the patient what they want, e.g. pain meds, MRI, antibiotics) or ask for (those things are not often best for the patient, but takes time to discuss through).

It’s taking our best science and knowledge and technology and then adapting it to meet the patient’s unique needs, circumstances, values, and goals.

It requires clearing up misconceptions (such as asking what the patient currently understands about a condition or a test or treatment), helping discuss risks and benefits in the context of that individual patient.

It requires asking not just telling, but it is not dumping everything back on to the patient.

It is taking into account the “work” (the job) of care (self-care that the patient or family need to do) on top of the illness and the rest of life that the patient and their family have to deal with and do (i.e. consideration)

Most clinicians think that they are already patient-centered because they care about their patients.

But that does not mean they provide patient-centered care or practice in a patient-centered approach.

I thought I was patient-centered because I cared but then I had to uproot my mental model to really become patient-centered.”

Republicans and their advisors do not understand the meaning of the concept of patient centered care.

Tom Price M.D. understands the concept of patient centered care.

Without the patient being in the center of the management of his/her care, the healthcare system can never be repaired and will never be financially sustainable.

I hope President Trump gets the concept in spite of the advice from congressional Republican and Democrats. Congress is trying to satisfy all the secondary vested interests. Healthcare is a big business with many secondary stakeholders. They do not want to lose this important profit center.

These stakeholders are better organized than patients or physicians to influence healthcare policy makers.

The primary stakeholders are patients with their head coaches and assistant coaches being physicians and their healthcare team.

Patients must be in the center of the healthcare team because they are the only ones that can influences the cost of medical care.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” is, mine and mine alone.
All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2017 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
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Listen Up: It Is All About Personal Responsibility

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

In my last blog I continued my War on Obesity. I started this war in 2007.

There has been little progress in this war because of cultural conditioning and a lack of emphasis on personal responsibility.

Every New Year’s Day millions of Americans make New Year resolutions to lose weight. They are initially successful. They then regain the weight they have lost.

If America is going to solve the healthcare systems unsustainable cost, it is going to have to solve the increasing Obesity problem.

The National Institute of Diabetes (niddk.nih} recently published Overweight and Obesity statistics:

  “More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese.”

 “ More than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults are considered to be obese.”

 “ More than 1 in 20 (6.3 percent) have extreme obesity.”

 “ Almost 3 in 4 men (74 percent) are considered to be overweight or obese.”

Each year the obesity problem gets worse. Companies have sprung up selling weight loss formulas. These companies advertise their great success.

However, most of the iconic personalities used in their advertising have regained their weight after experiencing mild or significant weight loss.

This study was conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NHANES III was designed to provide nationally representative data to estimate the prevalence of major diseases, nutritional disorders, and potential risk factors.

  • Sixty-three percent of men and 55% of women had a body mass index of 25 kg/m2 or greater.

 

  • A graded increase in the prevalence ratio (PR) was observed with increasing severity of overweight and obesity for all of the health outcomes except for coronary heart disease in men and high blood cholesterol level in both men and women.

 

  • With normal-weight individuals as the reference, for individuals with BMIs of at least 40 kg/m2 and who were younger than 55 years, PRs were highest for type 2 diabetes for men (PR, 18.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 6.7-46.8)

 

  • Women (PR, 12.9; 95% CI, 5.7-28.1]

 

  •  Gallbladder disease for men (PR, 21.1; 95% CI, 4.1-84.2) and women (PR, 5.2; 95% CI, 2.9-8.9).

 

  • Prevalence ratios generally were greater in younger than in older adults.

 

  • The prevalence of having 2 or more health conditions increased with weight status category across all racial and ethnic subgroups.

 

The Prevalence Ratio of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes is 18.1 for men and 12.9 for women.

Therefore Type 2 Diabetes is very prevalent in both Obese and Overweight men and women.

 

  • Up to 75% of adults with diabetes also have hypertension, and patients with hypertension alone often show evidence of insulin resistance.
  • Hypertension and diabetes are common, intertwined conditions that share a significant overlap in underlying risk factors (including ethnicity, familial, dyslipidemia, and lifestyle determinants) and complications.
  • These complications include microvascular and macrovascular disorders. The macrovascular complications, which are well recognized in patients with longstanding diabetes or hypertension, include coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, congestive heart failure, and peripheral vascular disease.
  • Although microvascular complications (retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy) are conventionally linked to hyperglycemia, studies have shown that hypertension constitutes an important risk factor, especially for nephropathy.

Eighty percent of the treatment costs for diabetes and hypertension to the healthcare system is the result of the treatment of the complications of hypertension and diabetes.

In order for a healthcare system to be sustainable diabetes and hypertension must be cured. It is essential that each must be recognized early and treated aggressively.

Patients must be taught to be “the professor of their disease” so they can self-manage the control of their disease. Blood pressures and blood sugar are changing continuously. Patients live with their disease 24/7.

This takes a lot of personal responsibility and personal discipline.

Equally important is the morbidity resulting from the complications of diabetes and hypertension, two diseases that result from obesity.

Complications from the onset of both hypertension and diabetes take about eight years to develop. This is the reason to diagnose and discover Pre-Diabetes at the onset.

  • The shared lifestyle factors in the etiology of hypertension and diabetes provide ample opportunity for non-pharmacological intervention.
  • Thus, the initial approach to the management of both diabetes and hypertension must emphasize weight control, physical activity, and dietary modification.

Lifestyle intervention is remarkably effective in the primary prevention of diabetes and hypertension. These principles also are pertinent to the prevention of downstream macrovascular complications of the two disorders.

This is the where my story of the importance of personal responsibility comes in.

A restaurateur, in his early 50’s, who runs a large restaurant in Dallas, that I frequent, was slowly gaining weight. At 269 lbs. he had difficulty standing on his feet all day long. He was being treated for hypertension and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol).

His physician told him he must lose weight. He informed him of his risk factors for the complications of these diseases.

This was all he needed hear. The thought of having to quit the job he loved and the possibility of dying from the complications of his diseases was enough to make him decide to loss the weight.

He was told he would be fine if he lost the weight.

He has lost 70 lbs.so far without assistence. He has decided to be personally responsible for his weight loss.

He now gets up at 5 am each morning and exercises for one hour each day before work.

He has stopped eating his wonderful pasta dishes. He eats nothing that is white.

Every time I meet a friend at the restaurant, the restaurateur sits down at our table for a chat. We usually talk about how great he is doing in the weight loss department.

I had initiated an obesity program at Endocrine Associates of Dallas P.A. in the mid 1980s. A California clinical endocrinologist, with whom I did my endocrine fellowship with, had a very successful obesity program. He convinced me to start one at EAD.

Patients on large doses of insulin were totally off insulin after two weeks. It was successful until the patients graduated from the program.

Unfortunately the recidivism rate (regaining weight) was around 80%. This rate was not dissimilar to the national overage at the time.

EAD stopped the program.

In my view there were not enough patients who turned the corner and stuck to the program.

I believe the restaurateur has turned the corner. This fellow has turned the personal responsibility corner to control his food intake and exercise output. I do not believe he will regain his weight.

He has exhibited personal responsibility for his health and well-being.

If only physicians could solve the obesity problem so easily, the cost of healthcare would plummet to sustainable levels.

The development of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus would also plummet and the cost of the treatment of its complications would vanish.

Social change is necessary in restaurants and fast food chains.

People have to be taught to eat wisely in restaurants and at home.

People have to be provided with education about the perils of obesity.

People have to understand the natural history of obesity.

People have to be motivated to not only maintain their health. They have to be given financial incentives to control their health.

This can only be achieved with a consumer driven healthcare system in which people are provided with incentives to control their healthcare dollars.

My ideal medical savings account will provide all the appropriate incentives for all people of all economic levels.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” is, mine and mine alone.

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2017 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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