health care costs

This post was updated Dec. 14 at 9:30 a.m. to note that Maryland extended enrollment until Dec. 22.

Gene Kern, 63, retired early from Fujifilm, where he sold professional videotape. "When the product became obsolete, so did I," he says, "and that's why I retired."

There's new — and shocking — evidence about the toll that health care costs are taking on the world's most vulnerable.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Linda Radach has had six hip replacement operations since 2006, three on each side. Osteoarthritis was the reason she needed surgery in the first place, but replacing her hips in some ways only worsened her troubles.

Two years ago, Margaret O'Neill brought her 5-year-old daughter to Children's Hospital Colorado because the band of tissue that connected her tongue to the floor of her mouth was too tight. The condition, called being literally "tongue-tied," made it hard for the girl to make "th" sounds.

It's a common problem with a simple fix: an outpatient procedure to snip the tissue.

During a preoperative visit, the surgeon offered to throw in a surprising perk. Should we pierce her ears while she is under?

Photo: Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

A 25-year-old federal drug discount program has grown so big and controversial that it faces a fight for survival as federal officials and lawmakers furiously debate the program’s reach.

Google Maps

The Food and Drug Administration last month sent criminal investigation agents with search warrants into nine storefronts across Central Florida that help customers order drugs from pharmacies in Canada and overseas at big discounts.

Too Few Patients Follow The Adage: Shop Around

Aug 21, 2017

Despite having more financial “skin in the game” than ever, many consumers don’t make any attempt to compare prices for health care services, a newly released study found.

Updated 4:31 pm August 16: On Wednesday, the White House said it would continue what's known as cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers for another month, buying President Trump some time to decide whether he'll continue the payments long-term or cut them off altogether.

The announcement came a day after the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis that found that ending the payments would increase the deficit by $194 billion over 10 years.

Albuminarium

Two years after it passed unanimously in Ohio’s state Legislature, a law meant to inform patients what health care procedures will cost is in a state of suspended animation.

A recent Harvard study concluded Jacksonville residents could save close to $40 million in health care costs annually if the city were to tax sugary drinks.

Researcher Steve Gortmaker said the tax would help cut down on obesity.


In a move that might actually help health care costs become more transparent, some hospitals are starting to give patients detailed information about what their upcoming visits will cost in an attempt to get them to pay ahead of time, according to the website Modern Healthcare. 

Health-care prices are complex and in many ways secret—which can affect how much you end up paying for your health care.

But not everyone agrees on what transparency in health-care pricing should look like.

You can listen to a story about what we mean when we talk about transparency here:

Report: US Medicine Spending Up 8.5 Percent

Apr 14, 2016
Associated Press

U.S. spending on prescription drugs rose 8.5 percent last year, slightly less than in 2014, driven mainly by growing use of ultra-expensive new drugs and price hikes on other medicines.

The Obama administration is recruiting as many as 20,000 primary care doctors for an initiative it hopes will change the way physicians get paid and provide care.

The program, which was announced Monday, will be run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The aim is to stop paying doctors based on the number of billable services and visits provided to Medicare beneficiaries and instead to tie payments to overall patient health and outcomes.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Responds To Coffee Shop Showdown

Apr 11, 2016
YouTube/Stephen Bender

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, responding to a viral video showing him being cursed at by an activist at a coffee shop, has brewed the frothy fracas into a full-force Floridian feud.

Associated Press

For most hospitals in Florida, Medicare is changing the way it pays for hip- and knee-replacement operations to ensure that patients get the right care at the right time at the right price for taxpayers. 

Lottie Watts / WUSF

A final report from Gov. Rick Scott’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding is recommending that Floridians should be able to find out ahead of time what it will actually cost before going into the hospital for non-emergency treatment.

The only thing Florida lawmakers must get done during the legislative session is pass a balanced budget. But it’s tricky ironing out all the numbers. And  a big part of laying out a budget is determining how much to spend when it comes to healthcare.

Tallahassee lawmakers got a hard pill to swallow Thursday.

Chronically Ill Pay More For Marketplace Plans Than Employer Coverage

Oct 6, 2015

Chronically ill people enrolled in individual health plans sold on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges pay on average twice as much out-of-pocket for prescription drugs each year than people covered through their workplace, according to a study published Monday in the Health Affairs journal.

myfloridahouse.gov

Two state lawmakers -- one an orthopedic surgeon and the other a dentist  -- have submitted an eight-year health plan for Florida that includes having the state run its own Medicaid program, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The true cost of health care is notoriously secret, but an analysis out this week from the Health Care Cost Institute offers a glimpse into how insurance companies spend money in Florida.

If your company hasn't launched a wellness program, this might be the year.

As benefits enrollment for 2016 approaches, more employers than ever are expected to nudge workers toward plans that screen them for risks, monitor their activity and encourage them to take the right pills, food and exercise.

Report: Inpatient, Outpatient Procedure Prices Vary in Some FL Cities

Sep 30, 2015
Health Care Cost Institute

A long-established belief about health costs is that some areas of the country, like McAllen, Texas, are expensive, while others like San Francisco are cheap.

But an analysis released Wednesday provides evidence that prices in states including Florida can be exorbitant for some medical services and bargains for others—all in the same place.

Lottie Watts / Health News Florida

Update: 3:50 p.m. Mallory Deason, communications director for the Agency for Health Care Administration, released the following statement in regards to the Politico Florida story.

“This morning, Politico Florida published an article that claimed that AHCA has not been forthcoming regarding a public records request they filed. The article claimed that our office has not been responsive when, in fact, AHCA communication’s staff has been in constant contact with Politico regarding this request, including several updates via telephone last week.

Associated Press

The $1,000 pill for a liver-wasting viral infection that made headlines last year is no longer the favorite of patients and doctors.

The new leading pill for hepatitis C is more expensive, and the number of patients seeking a cure has surged.

Sovaldi, last year's wonder drug, has been pushed aside by a successor called Harvoni, made by the same company. The sticker price for Harvoni is $1,350 a pill.

U.S. Navy

Twenty of the 50 U.S. hospitals that charge the most for their services are located in Florida — and all but one of them are for-profit, according to a study released Monday.

Does this sound like a top health care CEO?

Or this?

Those are the comments of Baptist Health South Florida CEO Brian Keeley. Baptist Health is the largest faith-based non-profit health system in South Florida. It delivers $2 billion of health care to South Florida through seven hospitals, more than a dozen urgent care centers and various other specialty health centers. The Baptist business has more than 1,700 beds and serves more than 1 million patients per year. Keeley has been with Baptist for more than 30 years.

More Plans Opt for Spending Limits

Oct 21, 2014

Aiming to contain health care costs, a growing number of employers and insurers are adopting a strategy that limits how much they’ll pay for certain medical services such as knee replacements, lab tests and complex imaging.

A recent study found that savings from such moves may be modest, however, and some experts question whether “reference pricing,” as it’s called, is good for consumers.

When Uwe Reinhardt tries to explains the Gordian Knot of hospital pricing to his health care economics students at Princeton University, he has a go-to metaphor:

“It's almost like blindfolding people, shoving them into Macy's and saying, ‘buy — efficiently — for a shirt.’ Well you come out with a pair of shorts,” says Reinhardt.

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