Sep 17, 2009 | 48
Going without health insurance can delay when people obtain primary and preventative care, potentially resulting in poorer health. Even more gravely, a lack of private health insurance brings an increased risk of death; uninsurance is to blame for some 44,789 adult deaths across the U.S. every year, according to a new study published online today in the American Journal of Public Health.
The findings show that uninsured Americans—between the ages of 17 and 64—have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who have private insurance. (Those enrolled in government insurance programs, such as Medicaid and Department of Veterans Affairs insurance, were excluded from the study.) About 46.3 million Americans didn't have health insurance as of 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the number is estimated to be higher now since the recession has forced many off of employer health plans.
Jul 28, 2009 | 5
Many doctors have a hard time owning up to errors, in part due to fears of being sued over malpractice claims and the consequent increase in malpractice insurance premiums.
However, the University of Michigan Health System’s (UMHS) approach, acknowledging mistakes and compensating patients up front, has reduced the number of malpractice cases and subsequent costs, according to the Associated Press.
In 2004, the university implemented a transparency concept in which the hospital admits mistakes, not only addressing patients’ concerns but also allowing doctors the freedom to learn from their mistakes.
UMHS malpractice claims dropped from 121 in 2001 to 61 in 2006, two years after implementation of the policy, Richard Boothman, the system’s chief risk officer, told the AP.
Mar 4, 2009
From the country that brought the world George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four comes a new, friendlier kind of Big Brother. This one is here to help people with memory loss live on their own longer. Engineers at the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering (BIME), at Bath University in England have designed and tested an integrated system that not only monitors people's actions, but can speak to them, contact help, turn off appliances and faucets, and even e-mail family and caretakers.
"The whole objective is to enable people to stay at home as long as they can," says Bruce Carey-Smith, a BIME design engineer. The system reports the wealth of information it collects—from potential problems to successful interventions—to health care providers. "It's about supporting—not about replacing—the role of care staff," Carey-Smith says.
Mar 2, 2009
President Obama made it official today: Democratic Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is his pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Sebelius, 60, has been governor since 2002. For eight years prior to that, she served as her state's insurance commissioner, winning kudos for blocking an insurance company merger that she said would have raised health premiums for consumers.
"Kathleen Sebelius has a remarkable intellect, unquestioned integrity, and the kind of pragmatic wisdom you’ll tend to find in a Kansan," Obama said in announcing the appointment. "I know she will bring some much-needed grace and good humor to Washington, and she will be a tremendous asset to my cabinet."
Feb 25, 2009 | 14
The need to reform the U.S. healthcare system was a key theme of President Obama's address to Congress last night, and there's early word that the budget proposal he's set to release tomorrow will create a 10-year, $634 billion "reserve fund" to pay for it.
The Washington Post, citing administration documents and an unidentified White House official, is reporting that the money would come from reducing tax breaks for the wealthy (which Obama said last night includes those who make more than $250,000 a year) and lowering payments to insurers, hospitals and physicians.
The plan, according to the Post, would force private insurers who sell Medicare managed-care plans to undergo a competitive bidding process, which would save an estimated $175 billion over the next decade. Drug makers would have to increase their medication rebates to Medicaid patients from 15 percent to 21 percent. And hospitals that have high readmission rates would be paid less by Medicare, using a system of flat fees for the first hospitalization and 30-day follow-up.
Feb 17, 2009 | 2
Among the provisions in the economic stimulus package that President Obama signed today is $1.1 billion in federal funding to investigate how different treatments stack up against each other. The money will likely go to comparing drugs, devices and medical procedures, in an effort guided by a council of 15 civil servants.
The stimulus bill doesn’t direct the 15-member council to dictate coverage. But the council will make recommendations about what to study and coordinate research between three federal agencies: the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Jan 20, 2009 | 20
Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world watched the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as he vowed to rebuild and reunite a fractured nation facing war, economic turmoil and other major challenges. Among the hurdles, our new President pledged, "We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost."
One needn't look far to see how technology has improved medical care – from anesthesia to ultrasounds. And some – Obama seemingly among them – believe that such technology can make health care more efficient. That could mean shorter hospital stays, more complete medical databases or ordering fewer tests because those we have are better.
Jan 20, 2009 | 1
In his inaugural address today, Pres. Barack Obama underscored his campaign promises to reform health care and develop alternative energy. Here are some excerpts, from the prepared text:
“Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet … .
“The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act —not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.…
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