Home / Healthcare Updates / Healthcare Update — 07-28-2014

Healthcare Update — 07-28-2014

Patients with “insurance” wonder why they can’t find access to medical care? Here’s a good example of why: Wisconsin pays a pittance to those who care for its Medicaid patients. As in 71% lower for office visits than private insurance payment rates, 76% to 78% lower for hospital care than private insurance rates, and 91% lower for emergency care than private insurance rates. According to the article:

One result of Medicaid’s low payment rates for physicians is a shortage of primary care clinics in low-income neighborhoods in Milwaukee.
That contributes to many people seeking care in high-cost hospital emergency departments. Wheaton Franciscan-St. Joseph estimates that roughly half of the patients in its emergency department — the busiest in the state — could be treated elsewhere.

Letter to the editor about the article from an emergency physician notes that the abysmal payment rates make it difficult to recruit and maintain emergency physicians in Wisconsin.

Oregon hospital notes “record breaking” increases in emergency department visits after Obamacare implemented. Average daily patient volumes in the 60s increased to the mid-70s with some spikes up to 100 patients per day. Wait times also increasing.

BMJ investigation shows that drug manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim reportedly hid data from regulators regarding safety of Pradaxa [dabigatran].

Some Life Pro Tips from Reddit contributors on how to speak to people who have hearing impairment. Not scientific, but I’ve found that I tend to speak slower and enunciate each word when a patient initially says that he or she cannot hear me. After going back and forth once or twice, I’m usually able to speak in a normal or near-normal voice. Any ENT experts care to chime in? Slowly, of course.
And for all you young whippersnappers out there, here are two related sitcom videos related to auditory issues from Monty Python and Taxi.

More on the $190 million Johns Hopkins settlement after gynecologist found to have taken secret pictures of up to 8000 patients. Hopkins joined an insurance collective with other universities such as Yale, Cornell, Columbia, and the University of Rochester. Now money will be coming out of the pockets of several institutions that had nothing to do with the Hopkins incidents.

Recently-published CDC study based on 2012 data shows that children covered by Medicaid use the emergency departments at a rate nearly double that of patients with private insurance.

Pregnant California woman in labor is unable to cross street to get into hospital for 30 minutes because President Obama’s motorcade was passing through at the time.

Pakistani town organizes protest of 100 people calling for a doctor to be arrested when patient under doctor’s care dies of stroke. Protestors laid patient’s body in road in front of the clinic and initially refuse to leave.

Philadelphia psychiatrist pulls out gun and shoots armed patient who had just shot his case worker. Police admit that the doctor’s actions stopped the patient from going on a rampage and killing others, but police are also “investigating” why the doctor had a gun at work since “bringing guns to work is against the rules at the hospital.”
Those “no gun” zones work so well. Obviously the patient in the incident was playing close attention to the rules. And Chicago is a shining example of how properly implemented gun-free zones save lives.

You know all those fitness wristbands and fitness apps for your phone? They’re a gold mine for advertisers and identity thieves.

Almost 75% of the apps studied sent data to third parties; nearly half shared personal information with advertisers — all without the user’s knowledge. Another analysis found that the top 20 health-related apps transmitted information to as many as 70 third-party organizations.

And the article notes that since the application makers aren’t “covered entities” under HIPAA laws, there is no protection of the information collected in the applications. Your weight, medical problems, and any other information you allow the apps to harvest could be posted anywhere in the universe and you have no say about it once you opt in.


  1. Re: The gun-toting pshrink facing firing or charges? Not so much, at last look:
    “The hospital said Friday it was thankful for the “brave and difficult action” taken by Silverman and his colleagues. It said he remains a full member of the medical staff and “we look forward to Dr. Silverman’s return to serving patients at our hospital.”

    Mercy Systems apparently mulled it over, and didn’t want to deal with the guaranteed lawsuit from Silverman and the next-of-kin of the social worker, for failing to take due diligence in securing their own facility, since the only thing they did to make it “gun-free” was post a sign on the wall. Juries love that. So instead they’ve decided to try common sense, all other options being less than palatable.

    And the local police chief was effusive in his praise for Dr. Silverman’s actions, attributing his actions as not only entirely justified but praiseworthy and lifesaving of both himself and others, and the only thing that stopped a single fatality from becoming a mass murder. The perp had several reloads on him when he was pinched, and could have kept on racking up a bigger body count had he not been helpfully perforated first.

    BTW, the whackjob fired 10 rounds, the doc fired 3 in return; bad guy only grazed Silverman’s arm after shooting the social worker, the doc’s marksmanship was three for three, two to the torso, and one to the arm. Not bad for going from unarmed while looking down a gun barrel, to coming out alive and virtually unscathed in about 2 seconds.

    Nice shooting, doc!


  2. When seconds count, the police are there in minutes.

  3. And re: Auditory Issues

    SNL: News For The Hearing Impaired

  4. A bit off subject but, not. I have cousins who survived the Newtown shootings. I have a cousin who was mentally ill and probably should have been institutionalized who killed herself. The gun control laws in Chicago, NY, CT are ridiculous! And so it the willful blindness that the mentally ill should be free to roam the streets and kill.

    As one retired NY cop put it: “As a new cop in the city’s worst precinct, I was for gun control. And then on the beat, I realized all of the victims were helpless because they could not defend against those criminals with weapons. I quickly became a supporter of the right of citizens to bear arms.”

    It should be no different for a physician, whose sole purpose may be to do no harm, but where does it say he must lie idle as another does harm?

  5. I’ve never had to face significant medical bills before, but after being billed more than $25K for an outpatient laparoscopic surgery for which I was in the OR for 1 hour and 15 minutes and in the hospital itself for a total of 6 hours from check-in to discharge, I see how broken the medical billing system is. I’m well-insured, but I still have to deal with a total bill of more than $2,600. The system seems so bizarre: the hospital bills whatever they feel like, the insurance company pays some agreed-upon percentage of the inflated hospital charges, and the patient is left to pay a percentage of the rest. The whole thing involves numbers that are based on nothing.

    So an article comparing what Medicaid pays compared to private insurance really doesn’t mean anything to me. What would be more interesting is an article comparing what Medicaid and private insurance pay to what it actually costs the hospital to provide the service. Or what hospitals bill compared to what it actually costs them to provide a service.

    I work in the medical field, but it’s really frustrating to be on the patient side with the billing.

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