Posts Tagged ‘American’

Older Americans Tend to Be Sicker than Britons – Until Their 70th Birthdays

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Americans are sicker than Britons until they are 70.  Older Americans tend to be sicker than their British counterparts.  Once they celebrate their 70th birthdays, however, Americans can expect to live longer.  This is one finding in a study conducted by RAND Corporation, the California-based research institute. American longevity could be due to their country’s expensive healthcare system, said James P. Smith, a Rand economist and demographics expert.  “We actually get something from it,” Smith said.  “We are sicker than the English and we have to spend a lot.”  Apparently, all those expensive tests “diagnosing chronic illnesses early, and how aggressive we treat those things” make the difference.

Healthcare spending in the United States ate up $2.3 trillion in 2008 – comprising 16 percent of the total economy.  By contrast, British healthcare spending was just 8.7 percent of that nation’s significantly smaller GDP.  According to James Banks, an economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London, mortality rates for cancer and stroke are higher in Britain than in continental Europe.  Healthcare spending in Europe is “a few percentage points higher” than in Britain.  Healthcare rationing is another issue.  “There is more rationing in the U.K. than there is here,” said Dr. Peter A. Meunnig, a health policy expert at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

According to Banks’ study, Americans in their 70s were twice as likely to have cancer and diabetes as their British counterparts.  Americans were also more apt to have high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and chronic lung disease.  In both countries, the groups studied were older, white and had insurance coverage.  Banks believes that more healthcare is “focused on the elderly” in the United States than in England, although this may be changing.  “The (British) government in recent years has been targeting cancer, heart disease and stroke,” he said.

Charles Krauthammer Gives ObamaCare Two Thumbs Down

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer thinks ObamaCare is a fantasy that the president will not be able to deliver.

According to Krauthammer, President Obama promised healthcare reform claiming that medical costs are ruining the economy.  Now, the Congressional Budget Office has said that the Democrats’ healthcare plan will increase costs by more than $1 trillion.

“In response, the president retreated to a demand that any bill he sign be revenue neutral,” Krauthammer said.  “But that’s a classic misdirection:  If the fierce urgency of healthcare reform is to radically reduce costs that are producing bobama-care-tlnudget-destroying deficits, revenue neutrality (by definition) leaves us on precisely the same path to insolvency that Obama himself declares unsustainable.”

Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that the president was “unhelpful” for ruling out taxing employer-provided insurance plans to help pay for coverage.  The House’s conservative Blue Dog Democrats are wincing at what they see as skyrocketing healthcare reform costs.

Krauthammer contends that “The president is therefore understandably eager to make this a contest between progressive Democrats and reactionary Republicans.  He seized on Republican Senator Jim DeMint’s comment that stopping Obama on healthcare would break his presidency to protest, with perfect disingenuousness, that ‘this isn’t about me.  This isn’t about politics.'”

Considering that the Clinton administration is considered successful by many despite its inability to pass healthcare reform, Krauthammer’s opinion may be overly negative if current efforts fail.  Plus, characterizing a cause that 74 percent of Americans support as a personal whim of the president seems unfair.  Also, 30 states have the same form of a public option for health insurance and studies show that residents support it overwhelmingly.  The issue is really about how to pay for it and here, the president will have to level with the American people about the real cost.

House Proposes $1.5 Trillion Healthcare Reform Package

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

The House of Representatives has proposed a $1.5 trillion package that would make healthcare coverage a right and a responsibility for all citizens.  If passed, medical providers, employers and the wealthy would pick up the tab.  The United States is the only developed nation that lacks healthcare coverage for all citizens, and approximately 50 Health Care Reformmillion people do not have access to insurance.

“We cannot allow this issue to be delayed.  We cannot put it off again,” says Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee.  “We quite frankly cannot go home for a recess unless the House and the Senate both pass bills to reform and restructure our healthcare system.”

President Obama is promoting healthcare reform every chance he gets.  In a Michigan speech about spending for community colleges, he said, “There’s going to be a major debate over the next three weeks.  And don’t be fooled by folks trying to scare you saying we can’t change the healthcare system.  We have no choice but to change the healthcare system because right now it’s broken for many Americans.”

Organizing for America – Obama’s campaign organization – is launching a series of 30-second television ads on healthcare reform that will air in Washington D.C., on cable networks nationally and on local stations in eight states.  The ads depict ordinary citizens telling their stories about problems with the current healthcare system.

The Loyal Opposition

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

The Republican National Committee’s (RNC) response to the Obama Administration’s and Congressional Democrats’ efforts to pass healthcare reform legislation was to sponsor a “Hillarycare revisited” fund raising effort.

The RNC warned against “Obamacare” and pointed out that the government “already run2008-08-23-dnc-081s car companies, banks and mortgage companies.  Republicans believe that the last thing the American people want is government telling them when and where – or even whether – they can get medical treatment for their families.”  “Hillarycare” refers to former President Bill Clinton’s failed attempt at reforming healthcare during the 1990s, an effort led by his wife, Hillary Clinton.

Republicans like John Boehner (R-OH) have raised the specter of a “bureaucrat standing between you and your doctor.”  Perhaps it’s worth considering that we currently have an insurance company bureaucrat performing the same role.  Also, government administered health options are almost uniformly popular.  The World Health Organization ranks France’s healthcare system as the world’s finest, contrasted to the United States, which scored 37th.  The United Kingdom’s combination of publicly and privately funded healthcare ranked 18th in the World Health Organization’s survey.

Stimulus Bill Boosts Healthcare for the Uninsured and Underserved

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Tucked into the Obama Administration’s stimulus bill is $200 million to support student loan repayments for primary-care physicians, dentists and mental health specialists who devote two years to working at National Health Service Corps sites.  Approximately 3,300 awards are being made to individuals serving in health centers, rural health clinics and healthcare facilities that treat the uninsured and people living in under served areas.23285

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, notes that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act “has laid the foundation for health reform and is supporting our effort to give more people access to the quality, affordable healthcare they need.  National Health Service Corps has helped protect the health and well-being of millions of Americans.  Now, we are doubling the Corps and putting doctors and clinicians in the communities where they are desperately needed.”

The additional funding should double the number of corps members “and the number of patients they care for, and spark economic growth in communities hard hit by the economic turndown,” according to Mary Wakefield, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, which manages the corps.

Congress Forging Ahead on Mandatory Healthcare Bill

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Congress is drafting historic legislation intended to restructure the American healthcare system.  At a time when healthcare costs total $2.4 trillion annually (an average of $7,868 per person), are projected to rise to $4 trillion by 2016 and 46 million Americans lack any insurance coverage, the legislation is badly needed.  According to a draft outline, the legislation might call for mandatory insurance requirements, which could conceivably be sold either through a national or state-based exchange.  The bill is also likely to include a government-backed plan to control healthcare-for-america-nowcosts.

The Joint Committee on Taxation opined that the size of the savings might fall under several taxation arrangements, which could be essential in determining how to pay for the reform bill.  The legislation includes an opportunity to drop the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, which is perceived by many as fatally flawed.

The legislation also will bring provider payments into line with recommendations from the Medicare Advisory Payment Commission, and allow payment alternatives for healthcare systems that offer coordinated care and focus on preventative health.  Medicaid would be expanded, with subsidies available to pay for coverage.

A quick analysis concludes that the House draft will cost more than legislation currently under consideration in the Senate.  So far, neither Democrats nor Republicans have been able to decide how to pay for the bill, which could total more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

Recession Forces Physicians to Rethink Retirement

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

The recession and its impact on investment portfolios, as well as declining Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, are making physicians rethink their retirement dates.

Some physicians have seen their stock markets portfolios fall by as much as 50 percent.  In today’s economy, selling practices might not bring the anticipated profit, according to William Jessee, M.D., president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association.  “I look at my 401(k) and think ‘Okay, I just turned 62, and 70 is starting to look like a better retirement field,'” Dr. Jessee said.20071003_nest_egg_18

A 2007 survey of 1,200 physicians found that 48 percent aged 50 to 65 were planning to retire, find non-clinical jobs, work part-time, close their practices to new patients and/or substantially reduce their patient load.  Since the survey was conducted, Americans’ retirement funds have lost as much as $2 trillion.

“It has not been entertaining watching all my hard-earned money disappear,” according to Jeffrey Sankoff, 41, a Denver physician.  “But I’ve got about 10 to 15 years before I need to worry because my 401(k) will just sit there and eventually recover and grow.  Those physicians closer to retirement age – hopefully their portfolio is balanced in such as way that this catastrophe won’t have as big of an impact as it’s had on me.”

The silver lining in these deferred retirements is that they could prevent a physician shortage, a result of medical schools capping their enrollments at 16,000 students per year because they believed that managed care would create a glut.  It is estimated the shortage could be as much as 250,000 physicians in the next 10 years.

Just Out of the Hospital? Check in at the Fairmont

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

You’ve just had grueling knee-replacement surgery and feel like a little pampering to make you feel better?  Reserve a room at Chicago’s Fairmont Hotel fairmont_600_x_558 for a plush post-operative stay until you’re ready to head home.

The Fairmont is just one American hotel cashing in on luxury medical tourism, which constitutes a $16 billion industry.  The Fairmont’s owner, Strategic Hotels & Resorts, did some research and found that most American patients, if given the option, prefer to stay in the country because of the cost of overseas travel and for the access to home-grown technology and medical expertise.

The Fairmont is teaming with Dr. Mitch Sheinkop, head of the joint replacement program at the Neurological & Orthopedic Hospital of Chicago, who arranges post-operative hotel stays for interested patients .  According to Mike Phares, the Fairmont’s marketing director, “We make it easy for rehab technicians to come and go from the hotel to work with patients.”

Pricey, but a little pampering after a hospital stay has strong appeal to the affluent patient.  So far, the Fairmont is limiting medical recovery stays to orthopedic cases, but plans to target plastic and cosmetic surgical patients next.