Summary of “Healthcare Shortcuts to Cut Doctors’ Office Visits in Half”

Have you ever had a question for your doctor that didn’t warrant a scheduled appointment and 45 minutes in the waiting room? Or have you ever needed emergency treatment, but didn’t think the hospital would prioritize you? There are some healthcare headaches you’ll undoubtedly come up against and think: There has to be a better way.
Here are a few secret solutions and shortcuts to common problems you might run into at the doctor’s office or with your health insurance.
Call ahead. Most receptionists are happy to tell you if the doctor is on time and, if not, how much later you should arrive.
Some doctors like to correspond with patients via computer, while others prefer not to, out of concerns for patient privacy or fears that an emergency will be missed.
Many insurance companies will even allow you to submit claims by fax, so you don’t have to search for an envelope or find time to go to the post office.
Many doctors are subscribing to services that transmit prescriptions from a computer or a PDA to a pharmacy, cutting down on time and errors.
“Of course, if it’s a true emergency, don’t waste time tracking down your doctor,” King says.
Doctors tend to interrupt patients less than 30 seconds into an explanation of their problems, which can bring them to erroneous conclusions, says Liu.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Your Pharmacist Can’t Tell You That $20 Prescription Could Cost Only $8”

Pharmacy benefit managers say they hold down costs for consumers by negotiating prices with drug manufacturers and retail drugstores, but their practices have come under intense scrutiny.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers said in a report this month that large pharmacy benefit managers “Exercise undue market power” and generate “Outsized profits for themselves.”
Under many contracts, he said, “The pharmacist cannot volunteer the fact that a medicine is less expensive if you pay the cash price and we don’t run it through your health plan.”
The legislation, Mr. Fasano said, encountered “a lot of resistance” from large pharmacy benefit managers and some insurance companies.
A new Georgia law says that a pharmacist may not be penalized for disclosing such information to a customer.
The North Dakota law also says that a pharmacy benefit manager or insurer may not charge a co-payment that exceeds the actual cost of a medication.
The lobby for drug benefit companies, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, has filed suit in federal court to block the North Dakota law, saying it imposes “Onerous new restrictions on pharmacy benefit managers.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican, said this past week that he would call a special session of the State Legislature to authorize the regulation of pharmacy benefit managers by the state’s Insurance Department.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Prescription Drugs May Cost More With Insurance Than Without It”

In an era when drug prices have ignited public outrage and insurers are requiring consumers to shoulder more of the costs, people are shocked to discover they can sometimes get better deals than their own insurers.
Pharmacy benefit managers, the companies that deal with drug benefits on behalf of insurers, often do negotiate better prices for consumers, particularly for brand-name medications, Mr. Rea said, but that’s not necessarily true for some generic drugs.
So when insurers seek deals for generic drugs, they do so in batches, reaching agreements for groups of different drugs rather than getting the lowest price on every drug.
In one case, a customer whose plan was managed by CVS Caremark, the drug benefit manager, would have had to pay more for a drug through her plan at a CVS than what she ended up paying at the same store, with a coupon from GoodRx.
Drug-discount cards have been around for decades, and retailers like Walmart have also offered cheap generic drug programs, but both were mainly used by people without insurance.
Reporters at ProPublica and The New York Times examined whether they could get better prices on 100 of the most prescribed drugs, identified by GoodRx, without using their insurance.
MedImpact has not yet formally responded to the allegations in federal court in New York.GoodRx, a private company founded in 2010, displays the deals it has with nine pharmacy benefit managers, each offering different prices for different drugs.
If those prescriptions are filled without an insurance card, pharmacy systems may not catch dangerous drug interactions.

The orginal article.

Summary of “An open letter to Jeff Bezos-you are needed to disrupt the health care sector”

Health care is a huge sector of the economy, comprising close to 18% of US GDP. Roughly one out of every ten American workers is employed in this sector.
No wonder we pay more for health care and get poorer outcomes than any other industrialized nation.
Once you hang out a new shingle, Amazon Health, people will find getting health care products from you highly attractive, given you offer them at a discount and, above all, with a much better delivery system than others provide.
To reduce health care costs, one can hardly imagine a better place to start than to use the trillions of pieces of information already in the database of Medicare to assess all procedures for safety and effectiveness.
Theoretically the Department of Health and Human Services is tasked with carrying out such evaluation studies, but does them on a small scale, reportedly due to lobbying pressure to protect health care reimbursements.
The reason is that in disrupting the heath care sector, Amazon will have to take on much more powerful players than bookstores, publishers, and even big name retailers.
Health insurers, who would seem natural allies for a drive by Amazon Health to reform and rationalize the health care sector, in the past have been at least reluctant to take on special interests, and rather increased premiums.
Granted, Mr. Bezos, even you cannot bring rationality to this high and complex sector that is as poorly structured as our health care sector currently is.

The orginal article.