High Deductible Plans Hit Chronically Ill Low-Income Patients Hardest

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Salam Abdus, PhD Division of Research and Modeling, Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Department of Health and Human Services Rockville, Maryland

Dr. Abdus

Salam Abdus, PhD
Division of Research and Modeling,
Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends,
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Department of Health and Human Services
Rockville, Maryland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 


Response:
High deductible health plans are more prevalent than ever.

Previous research showed that adults in low-income families or with chronic conditions are more likely to face high financial burdens when they are enrolled in high-deductible health plans, compared to adults in higher income families or healthier adults.

In this study we examined the financial burden of high-deductible health plans among adults who are both low income and chronically ill. We used AHRQ’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component (MEPS-HC) data from 2011 to 2015 to study the prevalence of high out-of-pocket health care spending burden of high deductible health plans among adults enrolled in employer-sponsored insurance. We included family out-of-pocket spending on premiums and health care services.

We found that among adults who had family income below 250% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL), had multiple chronic conditions, and were enrolled in high-deductible health plans, almost half (46.9%) had financial family out-of-pocket health care burden exceeding 20 percent of family disposable income.

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Medicare’s Bundled Payment Program–Does it Change Hospital Volume or Case Mix?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Amol Navathe, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Medicine Perelman School of Medicine Penn Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

Dr. Navathe

Amol Navathe, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine
Penn Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Medicare’s voluntary Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative for lower extremity joint replacement (LEJR) surgery has been associated with reduced episode spending and stable-to-improved quality. However, BPCI may create unintended effects by prompting participating hospitals to increase the overall volume of episodes covered by Medicare. This could potentially eliminate Medicare-related savings or prompt hospitals to shift case mix to lower-risk patients.

Among the Medicare beneficiaries who underwent LEJR, BPCI participation was not significantly associated with a change in market-level volume (difference-in-differences estimate . In non-BPCI markets, the mean quarterly market volume increased 3.8% from 3.8 episodes per 1000 beneficiaries before BPCI to 3.9 episodes per 1000 beneficiaries after BPCI was launched. In BPCI markets, the mean quarterly market volume increased 4.4% from 3.6 episodes per 1000 beneficiaries before BPCI to 3.8 episodes per 1000 beneficiaries after BPCI was launched.

The adjusted difference-in-differences estimate between the market types was 0.32%. Among 20 demographic, socioeconomic, clinical, and utilization factors, BPCI participation was associated with changes in hospital-level case mix for only one factor, prior skilled nursing facility use in BPCI vs. non-BPCI markets.  Continue reading

Transitional Care Services from Hospital to Home Underutilized, Can Save Money and Readmissions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Andrew B. Bindman, MD Professor of Medicine PRL- Institute for Health Policy Studies University of California San Francisco

Dr. Bindman


Andrew B. Bindman, MD

Professor of Medicine
PRL- Institute for Health Policy Studies
University of California San Francisco

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  


Response:
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use and impact of a payment code for transitional care management services which was implemented by Medicare in.

The transition of patients from hospitals or skilled nursing facilities back to the community often involves a change in a patient’s health care provider and introduces risks in communication which can contribute to lapses in health care quality and safety. Transitional care management services include contacting the patient within 2 business days after discharge and seeing the patient in the office within 7-14 days. Medicare implemented payment for transitional care management services with the hope that this would increase the delivery of these services believing that they could reduce readmissions, reduce costs and improve health outcomes.

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Effects of Breast Density Notification Laws Vary By State

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michal Horný PhD Assistant Professor Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences Emory University Rollins School of Public Health Department of Health Policy and Management Atlanta, GA 30322

Dr. Horný

Michal Horný PhD
Assistant Professor
Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences
Emory University Rollins School of Public Health
Department of Health Policy and Management
Atlanta, GA 30322

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Increased breast tissue density is a common finding at screening mammography. Approximately 30-50% of women have so-called “dense breasts” but many of them are not aware of it. The problem is that the increased tissue density can potentially mask early cancers. In other words, if there is cancer hiding in dense breast tissue, it could be difficult to spot it.

To improve the awareness of breast tissue density, a patient group called Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc., started lobbying state and federal policymakers to pass laws mandating health care providers to notify women about their breast density assessments. As a result, 31 states have already enacted some form of legislation regarding dense breast tissue.

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Financial Savvy Linked To Better Later Life Outcomes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bryan D. James, PhD Assistant Professor Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center Chicago, IL 60612

Dr. James

Bryan D. James, PhD
Assistant Professor
Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center
Chicago, IL 60612

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study is part of a larger body of research examining how literacy and decision making abilities in different areas of life can affect the health and well-being of older adults.

The main finding of this study is that a better ability to understand and utilize financial concepts was related to a lower risk of hospitalization in old age.

Over almost 2 years of follow-up, 30 percent of the 388 older men and women in this study were hospitalized at least once. A 4-point higher score on the scale of financial literacy, representing one standard deviation, was associated with about a 35 percent lower risk of hospitalization. This was after adjusting for a number of factors including physical and mental health indicators and income. The association appeared to be stronger for knowledge of financial concepts such as stocks and bonds, as opposed to the ability to perform numerical calculations. Additionally, the association was stronger for elective hospital admissions as opposed to emergency or urgent hospitalizations; this may support the notion that financial literacy is related to medical decision-making surrounding the decision to be hospitalized, such as which procedures are covered by Medicare.

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Surgical Oncologist Discusses Empathy as Critical Ingredient of Good Medical Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Dmitri Alden MD, FACS Surgical Oncologist, specializes in liver cancer, bile duct cancer, metastatic ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital, NY Dr. Alden is an advocate of the role of empathy in medicine

Dr. Dmitri Alden

Dr. Dmitri Alden MD, FACS
Surgical Oncologist, specializes in liver cancer, bile duct cancer, metastatic ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital, NY

Dr. Alden is an advocate of the role of empathy in medicine and discusses his passion for compassionate care in this interview.
Please see his bio and website at http://www.liversurgeryny.com.
MedicalResearch.com: Why do you feel that empathy is a vital part of treating a patient?

Response: Over the last decade many physicians, patients and other professionals began to recognize that medical care is much more than treatment with medications or an act of surgery. Healing involves pain and suffering and dealing with psychological issues connected to the stress of being taken out of one’s normal life routine. Pain is now considered a “vital sign” and only recently it became mandatory to address it properly and document it in a medical record. Empathy in my opinion is a “vital sign” of any relationship that forms between a patient and a medical professional. When expressed genuinely, it makes a tremendous impact on patient’s overall experience and recovery.

MedicalResearch.com: How do you define empathy in regards to medical treatment?

Response: Empathy is understanding and true genuine caring. Patients and doctors create a unique and very personal relationship built on trust and “chemistry”. The doctor’s ability to express empathy, step in the patient’s shoes, get to know their life, loves, personal problems and to structure care around this unique individual enhances the patient’s belief in the route of treatment chosen and the doctor’s ability to provide a cure.

MedicalResearch.com: Do you feel that the medical system doesn’t emphasize empathy enough?

Response: Doctors are trained without an emphasis on empathy. They focus on acquiring immense amounts of information that need to be learned during medical school and residency. Emotions are currently left to the side in order to succeed. The end product is often a machine that knows what to do in any medical situation but has difficulty to connect on an emotional level. I feel that empathy is also a very important step towards achieving successful outcomes because a patient will feel more invested in following the doctor’s advice if he feels there is compassion and understanding.

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Standardizing Medical Care By Patient Complexity Grouping

MedicalResearch Interview with:
Dr. David Cook MD
Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology
Division of Cardiovascular Anesthesiology
Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
Rochester, Minnesota.

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Cook: The main finding of the study was that segmentation of a population of surgical patients into groups of higher and lower complexity allowed us to apply a standardized practice, focused factory model to surgical care delivery. A standardized care model improved care process measures such as time on mechanical ventilation or duration of a bladder catheter indwelling. The model reduced resource utilization, decreasing patient time in all care environments (operating room, ICU and on ?the floor?). The care model improved outcomes at 30 days and reduced the costs overall and in every care environment. In addition to the absolute improvements in quality and in cost, the standardized care model reduced variation in all measured variables. That reduction in variation may be even more important than the improved outcomes or reduced costs because we now know it is possible to make the health care experience predictable for these patients. That predictability is critically important to patients and providers, but it also has implications for health care metrics and payment models.
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