Archive for April, 2011

Brief Guide to the Health Care Reform Bill

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Here are a few specifics to ponder. Under the present Act  passed last year in March:

32 million uninsured Americans will gain access to health coverage.

Insurers will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to patients based on pre-existing conditions, and patients will no longer face lifetime caps on coverage or be threatened with cancellation of coverage.

Children can remain on their parents’ policies until the age of 26.

Competition will enter the insurance marketplace since health insurance exchanges and co-ops will be created allowing pooling of coverage for individuals and small businesses. High risk insurance pools will be created.

The bill leaves medical decisions in the hands of you and your doctor. Subsidies will help low-income individuals and families buy health insurance.

Immediate tax credits will be extended to small businesses for purchase of health insurance for employees.

Insurance claims processing will be standardized and streamlined, helping lower health provider overhead costs.

The widely despised Medicare Part D Coverage Gap (donut hole) that haunts millions of seniors will be closed.

According to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, the new bill will keep Medicare financially sound for 10 years by cutting rates of increase in health care costs. This should help cut the U.S. deficit by $143 billion.

These are the facts. Can some readers give me convincing reasons this first new health bill in over 50 years, should be the subject of political attack and face the danger of emasculation if not legislative annihilation?

And now they want to turn Medicare over to the insurance companies!

Knee and Hip Ops Almost Doubling in 10 Years

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Between 1996–1997 and 2006–2007, inpatient procedure rates among persons 45–64 years of age doubled for total knee replacements (from 12 to 26 per 10,000 population) and almost doubled from 7 to 12 per 10,000 population, for total hip replacements.

During this period, inpatient procedure rates for excision of intervertebral disc and spinal fusion, which are typically not performed on an outpatient basis, were unchanged among this age group.

Among persons 65 years of age and over, excision of intervertebral disc and spinal fusion procedure rates increased 67%, from 17 to 28 per 10,000 population, and total knee replacement procedures increased 60%, from 51 to 82 per 10,000 population, during this period. Stay tuned.

Are there that many more patients who require hip and knee replacements as well as spinal operations, or have the indications for performing these procedures changed that much in 10 years? What is the new complication rate? Stay tuned.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus10.pdf