Ten Tips for Comparing Health Care Policies

Health Care PoliciesAustralians already know that health coverage can provide security for individuals and families when a medical need arises. Many, however, do not know how to find the best value when comparing health insurance policies.

Below are 10 tips everyone should read before shopping for private health coverage.

1. Choose coverage that concentrates on your specific health needs, or potential health needs.

The first thing you should do before comparing your health plan options is determine which policy features best fit your needs. A 30-year-old accountant, for instance, is going to need very different coverage than a 55year-old pro golfer, or a 75-year-old retired veterinarian. By understanding the health needs that most often correspond to people in your age and activity level group – your life stage – you can save money by purchasing only the coverage you need and avoid unnecessary services that aren’t relevant. For instance, a young family with two small children isn’t going to need coverage for joint replacement or cataract surgery. A 60-year-old school teacher isn’t going to need pregnancy and birth control-related services.

Whether it’s high level comprehensive care you’re after, or the least expensive option to exempt you from the Medical Levy Surcharge while providing basic care coverage, always make sure you’re comparing health insurance policies with only those services that make sense for you and your family.

2. Consider options such as Excess or Co-payment to reduce your premium costs.

When you agree to pay for a specified out-of-pocket amount in the event you are hospitalized, you sign an Excess or Co-payment option that will reduce your health insurance premium.

If you choose the Excess option, you agree to pay a predetermined, specific amount when you go to hospital, no matter how long your stay lasts. With a Co-payment option, you agree to pay a daily sum up to a pre-agreed amount. For example, if Joanne has an Excess of $250 on her medical coverage policy and is admitted to hospital, regardless of how long her stay turns out to be, she will pay $250 of the final bill. If Andrew has signed a $75×4 Co-payment with his provider, he will pay $75 per day for just the first the first four days of his hospitalization.

For younger individuals who are healthy and fit with no reason to expect to land in hospital any time soon, either of these options are great ways to reduce the monthly cost of your medical insurance premiums.
Keep in mind that different private insurers have their own rules when it comes to Excess and Co-payments, including how many payments you will need to make annually on either option. It is important to read the policy thoroughly and ask questions in advance in order to have a clear understanding of what you are paying for, and what you can expect coverage-wise in the event that you are hospitalized. Also, make sure you choose an Excess option greater than $500 if you’re purchasing an individual policy, or $1,000 for family coverage, in order to be exempted from the Medicare Levy Surcharge.

3. Pay your health insurance premium in advance before the cost increases.

Each year insurance providers increase their premiums by approximately five percent sometime around the first of April, a practice approved by the Minister of Health. By instituting these annual increases, your health insurance provider retains the ability to fulfill their obligations to policyholders despite increasing medical costs.

Most private medical policy providers allow policy holders to pay for one year’s premium in advance, which locks them into the previous year’s rate for an additional 12 months – a great way to save money. In order to take advantage of the savings offered, most insurers require payment in full be made within the first quarter of the year, between January and March.

4. Lock in to low cost health insurance at an early age.

The most obvious advantage any Australian can take when it comes to saving money on your insurance premiums is to buy in early to the least expensive rate available. And by early, we mean before age 31. Everyone who is eligible for Medicare will receive at least a 30 percent rebate from the government on the price of their health care premium, no matter what age you are. However, by purchasing hospital coverage before the July first following your 31st birthday, you can be ensured the lowest premium rate available.

After age 31, your health insurance rate is subjected to a two percent penalty rate increase for every year after age 30 that you did not have health insurance. Therefore, if you wait to purchase private health coverage until you’re age 35, you will pay 10 percent more annually than you would have if you had purchased it at age 30.

There are exemptions for some people who were overseas when they turned 30, or for new immigrants, and certain others under special exception status. However, if you purchased private insurance after age 30 and are paying an age loading penalty on your health coverage, you will be relieved of the excess penalty after 10 years of continual coverage.

The earlier in life that you lock in to a private health plan, the more money you will save both immediately and over your lifetime.

5. Choose a health care provider who already works with your health fund.

Determine which hospital you prefer if and when the need for treatment does arise, and seek out those health insurance providers that have an agreement with your hospital of choice before making a decision on your health insurance purchase.

It’s a good idea to also find out if your insurer has a list of “preferred providers,” which would include those physicians and practitioners who also have made arrangements with the health funds regarding their charges for services. Request this information from every provider when comparing health insurance policies. This way you can be sure you’ll receive the full gamut of benefits available at the lowest possible cost. These preferred providers often have “no gap” cover – special rates that reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket expenses to policyholders.

6. Double check your health insurance policy before you schedule any treatment or procedures to make sure you have coverage.

Any time you are headed to a private hospital for treatment, first check to see if the hospital and your health insurance provider have an agreement to be absolutely sure you have adequate coverage. At the same time, check with your insurance provider, physician and the hospital to see if there is a Gap between their fees and the government’s Medicare Benefits. This is extremely important because if your physician charges more than Medicare covers and you do not have a “no Gap” plan set up, you could find yourself responsible for a considerable bill. Simply contact your doctor and your insurance company to double check on these items, and avoid being saddled with an out-of-pocket expense your weren’t expecting.

7. File your expense claims promptly.

When you have a health insurance membership card, you can file a claim against your benefits at the time of treatment with no additional paperwork or filing to worry about, at least in most cases. Sometimes, you may still need to file a claim with your insurance provider. When that happens, make sure to file your claim promptly. The typical cut off for insurers to pay health care claims is two years. You can file your health insurance claim directly with your provider or at your area Medicare office, which has a reciprocal agreement in place with most insurance providers.

8. Whenever you travel overseas, suspend your health coverage.

Anytime you travel overseas for more than a few weeks but less than 24 months, certain medical insurance providers allow policyholders to suspend their memberships for the time they’re out of the country, freeing the policyholders from paying premiums during that time period. While your insurance policy is suspended, your Lifetime Health Cover status remains intact, so you do not have to worry about age loading added when you return home. Contact your health insurance provider to make sure of their policy and rules regarding waiting periods and re-activation.

Remember too that Australia has reciprocal arrangements in certain countries, including New Zealand, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.K. For more information, visit http://www.smartraveller.gov.au.

9. Review your policy benefits annually.

Lifestyles change, individuals get married, have children, age – children grow up and move out on their own, couples separate. A lot can happen in the span of 12 months, which is why the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman recommends that everyone review their policy benefits once every year to make sure your coverage still fits your needs.

Regardless of your life changes, your Lifetime Health Cover status remains protected, and waiting periods for benefits that equal your current coverage are waived in compliance with the Private Health Insurance Act of 2007. This means you will be able to file claims related to features you had before you made any changes without interruption in benefits.

10. Compare policies to get the best price and the coverage you need.

To make sure that you are getting the best possible price on your health insurance premium, you must compare policies from different insurers, Make sure you are comparing policies that reflect the treatment plan and coverage you need, without filler services that you won’t need. The more you know about private health coverage and government sponsored Medicare, the more likely you will find the best value for your money when it comes time to purchasing or renewing your health coverage.

Author Liz Ernst writes on health insurance matters in Australia and the U.S.

Private health insurance is a cost Australians should at least consider factoring into their budget. Different funds have products that better suit different groups of people. Visit the Your Health Insurance website (http://www.yourhealthinsurance.com.au) to compare pricing and policies, and learn more about buying health insurance in Australia.

It really does pay to shop for health insurance.

A Prescription For the Health Care Crisis

Health Care CrisisWith all the shouting going on about America’s health care crisis, many are probably finding it difficult to concentrate, much less understand the cause of the problems confronting us. I find myself dismayed at the tone of the discussion (though I understand it—people are scared) as well as bemused that anyone would presume themselves sufficiently qualified to know how to best improve our health care system simply because they’ve encountered it, when people who’ve spent entire careers studying it (and I don’t mean politicians) aren’t sure what to do themselves.

Albert Einstein is reputed to have said that if he had an hour to save the world he’d spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only 5 minutes solving it. Our health care system is far more complex than most who are offering solutions admit or recognize, and unless we focus most of our efforts on defining its problems and thoroughly understanding their causes, any changes we make are just likely to make them worse as they are better.

Though I’ve worked in the American health care system as a physician since 1992 and have seven year’s worth of experience as an administrative director of primary care, I don’t consider myself qualified to thoroughly evaluate the viability of most of the suggestions I’ve heard for improving our health care system. I do think, however, I can at least contribute to the discussion by describing some of its troubles, taking reasonable guesses at their causes, and outlining some general principles that should be applied in attempting to solve them.

THE PROBLEM OF COST

No one disputes that health care spending in the U.S. has been rising dramatically. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), health care spending is projected to reach $8,160 per person per year by the end of 2009 compared to the $356 per person per year it was in 1970. This increase occurred roughly 2.4% faster than the increase in GDP over the same period. Though GDP varies from year-to-year and is therefore an imperfect way to assess a rise in health care costs in comparison to other expenditures from one year to the next, we can still conclude from this data that over the last 40 years the percentage of our national income (personal, business, and governmental) we’ve spent on health care has been rising.

Despite what most assume, this may or may not be bad. It all depends on two things: the reasons why spending on health care has been increasing relative to our GDP and how much value we’ve been getting for each dollar we spend.

WHY HAS HEALTH CARE BECOME SO COSTLY?

This is a harder question to answer than many would believe. The rise in the cost of health care (on average 8.1% per year from 1970 to 2009, calculated from the data above) has exceeded the rise in inflation (4.4% on average over that same period), so we can’t attribute the increased cost to inflation alone. Health care expenditures are known to be closely associated with a country’s GDP (the wealthier the nation, the more it spends on health care), yet even in this the United States remains an outlier (figure 3).

Is it because of spending on health care for people over the age of 75 (five times what we spend on people between the ages of 25 and 34)? In a word, no. Studies show this demographic trend explains only a small percentage of health expenditure growth.

Is it because of monstrous profits the health insurance companies are raking in? Probably not. It’s admittedly difficult to know for certain as not all insurance companies are publicly traded and therefore have balance sheets available for public review. But Aetna, one of the largest publicly traded health insurance companies in North America, reported a 2009 second quarter profit of $346.7 million, which, if projected out, predicts a yearly profit of around $1.3 billion from the approximately 19 million people they insure. If we assume their profit margin is average for their industry (even if untrue, it’s unlikely to be orders of magnitude different from the average), the total profit for all private health insurance companies in America, which insured 202 million people (2nd bullet point) in 2007, would come to approximately $13 billion per year. Total health care expenditures in 2007 were $2.2 trillion (see Table 1, page 3), which yields a private health care industry profit approximately 0.6% of total health care costs (though this analysis mixes data from different years, it can perhaps be permitted as the numbers aren’t likely different by any order of magnitude).

Is it because of health care fraud? Estimates of losses due to fraud range as high as 10% of all health care expenditures, but it’s hard to find hard data to back this up. Though some percentage of fraud almost certainly goes undetected, perhaps the best way to estimate how much money is lost due to fraud is by looking at how much the government actually recovers. In 2006, this was $2.2 billion, only 0.1% of $2.1 trillion (see Table 1, page 3) in total health care expenditures for that year.

Is it due to pharmaceutical costs? In 2006, total expenditures on prescription drugs was approximately $216 billion (see Table 2, page 4). Though this amounted to 10% of the $2.1 trillion (see Table 1, page 3) in total health care expenditures for that year and must therefore be considered significant, it still remains only a small percentage of total health care costs.

Is it from administrative costs? In 1999, total administrative costs were estimated to be $294 billion, a full 25% of the $1.2 trillion (Table 1) in total health care expenditures that year. This was a significant percentage in 1999 and it’s hard to imagine it’s shrunk to any significant degree since then.

In the end, though, what probably has contributed the greatest amount to the increase in health care spending in the U.S. are two things:

1. Technological innovation.

2. Overutilization of health care resources by both patients and health care providers themselves.

Technological innovation. Data that proves increasing health care costs are due mostly to technological innovation is surprisingly difficult to obtain, but estimates of the contribution to the rise in health care costs due to technological innovation range anywhere from 40% to 65% (Table 2, page 8). Though we mostly only have empirical data for this, several examples illustrate the principle. Heart attacks used to be treated with aspirin and prayer. Now they’re treated with drugs to control shock, pulmonary edema, and arrhythmias as well as thrombolytic therapy, cardiac catheterization with angioplasty or stenting, and coronary artery bypass grafting. You don’t have to be an economist to figure out which scenario ends up being more expensive. We may learn to perform these same procedures more cheaply over time (the same way we’ve figured out how to make computers cheaper) but as the cost per procedure decreases, the total amount spent on each procedure goes up because the number of procedures performed goes up. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is 25% less than the price of an open cholecystectomy, but the rates of both have increased by 60%. As technological advances become more widely available they become more widely used, and one thing we’re great at doing in the United States is making technology available.

Overutilization of health care resources by both patients and health care providers themselves. We can easily define overutilization as the unnecessary consumption of health care resources. What’s not so easy is recognizing it. Every year from October through February the majority of patients who come into the Urgent Care Clinic at my hospital are, in my view, doing so unnecessarily. What are they coming in for? Colds. I can offer support, reassurance that nothing is seriously wrong, and advice about over-the-counter remedies—but none of these things will make them better faster (though I often am able to reduce their level of concern). Further, patients have a hard time believing the key to arriving at a correct diagnosis lies in history gathering and careful physical examination rather than technologically-based testing (not that the latter isn’t important—just less so than most patients believe). Just how much patient-driven overutilization costs the health care system is hard to pin down as we have mostly only anecdotal evidence as above.

Further, doctors often disagree among themselves about what constitutes unnecessary health care consumption. In his excellent article, “The Cost Conundrum,” Atul Gawande argues that regional variation in overutilization of health care resources by doctors best accounts for the regional variation in Medicare spending per person. He goes on to argue that if doctors could be motivated to rein in their overutilization in high-cost areas of the country, it would save Medicare enough money to keep it solvent for 50 years.

A reasonable approach. To get that to happen, however, we need to understand why doctors are overutilizing health care resources in the first place:

1. Judgment varies in cases where the medical literature is vague or unhelpful. When faced with diagnostic dilemmas or diseases for which standard treatments haven’t been established, a variation in practice invariably occurs. If a primary care doctor suspects her patient has an ulcer, does she treat herself empirically or refer to a gastroenterologist for an endoscopy? If certain “red flag” symptoms are present, most doctors would refer. If not, some would and some wouldn’t depending on their training and the intangible exercise of judgment.

2. Inexperience or poor judgment. More experienced physicians tend to rely on histories and physicals more than less experienced physicians and consequently order fewer and less expensive tests. Studies suggest primary care physicians spend less money on tests and procedures than their sub-specialty colleagues but obtain similar and sometimes even better outcomes.

3. Fear of being sued. This is especially common in Emergency Room settings, but extends to almost every area of medicine.

4. Patients tend to demand more testing rather than less. As noted above. And physicians often have difficulty refusing patient requests for many reasons (eg, wanting to please them, fear of missing a diagnosis and being sued, etc).

5. In many settings, overutilization makes doctors more money. There exists no reliable incentive for doctors to limit their spending unless their pay is capitated or they’re receiving a straight salary.

Gawande’s article implies there exists some level of utilization of health care resources that’s optimal: use too little and you get mistakes and missed diagnoses; use too much and excess money gets spent without improving outcomes, paradoxically sometimes resulting in outcomes that are actually worse (likely as a result of complications from all the extra testing and treatments).

How then can we get doctors to employ uniformly good judgment to order the right number of tests and treatments for each patient—the “sweet spot”—in order to yield the best outcomes with the lowest risk of complications? Not easily. There is, fortunately or unfortunately, an art to good health care resource utilization. Some doctors are more gifted at it than others. Some are more diligent about keeping current. Some care more about their patients. An explosion of studies of medical tests and treatments has occurred in the last several decades to help guide doctors in choosing the most effective, safest, and even cheapest ways to practice medicine, but the diffusion of this evidence-based medicine is a tricky business. Just because beta blockers, for example, have been shown to improve survival after heart attacks doesn’t mean every physician knows it or provides them. Data clearly show many don’t. How information spreads from the medical literature into medical practice is a subject worthy of an entire post unto itself. Getting it to happen uniformly has proven extremely difficult.

In summary, then, most of the increase in spending on health care seems to have come from technological innovation coupled with its overuse by doctors working in systems that motivate them to practice more medicine rather than better medicine, as well as patients who demand the former thinking it yields the latter.

But even if we could snap our fingers and magically eliminate all overutilization today, health care in the U.S. would still remain among the most expensive in the world, requiring us to ask next—

WHAT VALUE ARE WE GETTING FOR THE DOLLARS WE SPEND?

According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled The Burden of Health Care Costs for Working Families—Implications for Reform, growth in health care spending “can be defined as affordable as long as the rising percentage of income devoted to health care does not reduce standards of living. When absolute increases in income cannot keep up with absolute increases in health care spending, health care growth can be paid for only by sacrificing consumption of goods and services not related to health care.” When would this ever be an acceptable state of affairs? Only when the incremental cost of health care buys equal or greater incremental value. If, for example, you were told that in the near future you’d be spending 60% of your income on health care but that as a result you’d enjoy, say, a 30% chance of living to the age of 250, perhaps you’d judge that 60% a small price to pay.

This, it seems to me, is what the debate on health care spending really needs to be about. Certainly we should work on ways to eliminate overutilization. But the real question isn’t what absolute amount of money is too much to spend on health care. The real question is what are we getting for the money we spend and is it worth what we have to give up?

People alarmed by the notion that as health care costs increase policymakers may decide to ration health care don’t realize that we’re already rationing at least some of it. It just doesn’t appear as if we are because we’re rationing it on a first-come-first-serve basis—leaving it at least partially up to chance rather than to policy, which we’re uncomfortable defining and enforcing. Thus we don’t realize the reason our 90 year-old father in Illinois can’t have the liver he needs is because a 14 year-old girl in Alaska got in line first (or maybe our father was in line first and gets it while the 14 year-old girl doesn’t). Given that most of us remain uncomfortable with the notion of rationing health care based on criteria like age or utility to society, as technological innovation continues to drive up health care spending, we very well may at some point have to make critical judgments about which medical innovations are worth our entire society sacrificing access to other goods and services (unless we’re so foolish as to repeat the critical mistake of believing we can keep borrowing money forever without ever having to pay it back).

So what value are we getting? It varies. The risk of dying from a heart attack has declined by 66% since 1950 as a result of technological innovation. Because cardiovascular disease ranks as the number one cause of death in the U.S. this would seem to rank high on the scale of value as it benefits a huge proportion of the population in an important way. As a result of advances in pharmacology, we can now treat depression, anxiety, and even psychosis far better than anyone could have imagined even as recently as the mid-1980’s (when Prozac was first released). Clearly, then, some increases in health care costs have yielded enormous value we wouldn’t want to give up.

But how do we decide whether we’re getting good value from new innovations? Scientific studies must prove the innovation (whether a new test or treatment) actually provides clinically significant benefit (Aricept is a good example of a drug that works but doesn’t provide great clinical benefit—demented patients score higher on tests of cognitive ability while on it but probably aren’t significantly more functional or significantly better able to remember their children compared to when they’re not). But comparative effectiveness studies are extremely costly, take a long time to complete, and can never be perfectly applied to every individual patient, all of which means some health care provider always has to apply good medical judgment to every patient problem.

Who’s best positioned to judge the value to society of the benefit of an innovation—that is, to decide if an innovation’s benefit justifies its cost? I would argue the group that ultimately pays for it: the American public. How the public’s views could be reconciled and then effectively communicated to policy makers efficiently enough to affect actual policy, however, lies far beyond the scope of this post (and perhaps anyone’s imagination).

THE PROBLEM OF ACCESS

A significant proportion of the population is uninsured or underinsured, limiting or eliminating their access to health care. As a result, this group finds the path of least (and cheapest) resistance—emergency rooms—which has significantly impaired the ability of our nation’s ER physicians to actually render timely emergency care. In addition, surveys suggest a looming primary care physician shortage relative to the demand for their services. In my view, this imbalance between supply and demand explains most of the poor customer service patients face in our system every day: long wait times for doctors’ appointments, long wait times in doctors’ offices once their appointment day arrives, then short times spent with doctors inside exam rooms, followed by difficulty reaching their doctors in between office visits, and finally delays in getting test results. This imbalance would likely only partially be alleviated by less health care overutilization by patients.

GUIDELINES FOR SOLUTIONS

As Freaknomics authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner state, “If morality represents how people would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work.” Capitalism is based on the principle of enlightened self-interest, a system that creates incentives to yield behavior that benefits both suppliers and consumers and thus society as a whole. But when incentives get out of whack, people begin to behave in ways that continue to benefit them often at the expense of others or even at their own expense down the road. Whatever changes we make to our health care system (and there’s always more than one way to skin a cat), we must be sure to align incentives so that the behavior that results in each part of the system contributes to its sustainability rather than its ruin.

Here then is a summary of what I consider the best recommendations I’ve come across to address the problems I’ve outlined above:

1. Change the way insurance companies think about doing business. Insurance companies have the same goal as all other businesses: maximize profits. And if a health insurance company is publicly traded and in your 401k portfolio, you want them to maximize profits, too. Unfortunately, the best way for them to do this is to deny their services to the very customers who pay for them. It’s harder for them to spread risk (the function of any insurance company) relative to say, a car insurance company, because far more people make health insurance claims than car insurance claims. It would seem, therefore, from a consumer perspective, the private health insurance model is fundamentally flawed. We need to create a disincentive for health insurance companies to deny claims (or, conversely, an extra incentive for them to pay them). Allowing and encouraging aross-state insurance competition would at least partially engage free market forces to drive down insurance premiums as well as open up new markets to local insurance companies, benefiting both insurance consumers and providers. With their customers now armed with the all-important power to go elsewhere, health insurance companies might come to view the quality with which they actually provide service to their customers (ie, the paying out of claims) as a way to retain and grow their business. For this to work, monopolies or near-monopolies must be disbanded or at the very least discouraged. Even if it does work, however, government will probably still have to tighten regulation of the health insurance industry to ensure some of the heinous abuses that are going on now stop (for example, insurance companies shouldn’t be allowed to stratify consumers into sub-groups based on age and increase premiums based on an older group’s higher average risk of illness because healthy older consumers then end up being penalized for their age rather than their behaviors). Karl Denninger suggests some intriguing ideas in a post on his blog about requiring insurance companies to offer identical rates to businesses and individuals as well as creating a mandatory “open enrollment” period in which participants could only opt in or out of a plan on a yearly basis. This would prevent individuals from only buying insurance when they got sick, eliminating the adverse selection problem that’s driven insurance companies to deny payment for pre-existing conditions. I would add that, however reimbursement rates to health care providers are determined in the future (again, an entire post unto itself), all health insurance plans, whether private or public, must reimburse health care providers by an equal percentage to eliminate the existence of “good” and “bad” insurance that’s currently responsible for motivating hospitals and doctors to limit or even deny service to the poor and which may be responsible for the same thing occurring to the elderly in the future (Medicare reimburses only slightly better than Medicaid). Finally, regarding the idea of a “public option” insurance plan open to all, I worry that if it’s significantly cheaper than private options while providing near-equal benefits the entire country will rush to it en masse, driving private insurance companies out of business and forcing us all to subsidize one another’s health care with higher taxes and fewer choices; yet at the same time if the cost to the consumer of a “public option” remains comparable to private options, the very people it’s meant to help won’t be able to afford it.

2. Motivate the population to engage in healthier lifestyles that have been proven to prevent disease. Prevention of disease probably saves money, though some have argued that living longer increases the likelihood of developing diseases that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred, leading to the overall consumption of more health care dollars (though even if that’s true, those extra years of life would be judged by most valuable enough to justify the extra cost. After all, the whole purpose of health care is to improve the quality and quantity of life, not save society money. Let’s not put the cart before the horse). However, the idea of preventing a potentially bad outcome sometime in the future is only weakly motivating psychologically, explaining why so many people have so much trouble getting themselves to exercise, eat right, lose weight, stop smoking, etc. The idea of financially rewarding desirable behavior and/or financially punishing undesirable behavior is highly controversial. Though I worry this kind of strategy risks the enacting of policies that may impinge on basic freedoms if taken too far, I’m not against thinking creatively about how we could leverage stronger motivational forces to help people achieve health goals they themselves want to achieve. After all, most obese people want to lose weight. Most smokers want to quit. They might be more successful if they could find more powerful motivation.

3. Decrease overutilization of health care resources by doctors. I’m in agreement with Gawande that finding ways to get doctors to stop overutilizing health care resources is a worthy goal that will significantly rein in costs, that it will require a willingness to experiment, and that it will take time. Further, I agree that focusing only on who pays for our health care (whether the public or private sectors) will fail to address the issue adequately. But how exactly can we motivate doctors, whose pens are responsible for most of the money spent on health care in this country, to focus on what’s truly best for their patients? The idea that external bodies—whether insurance companies or government panels—could be used to set standards of care doctors must follow in order to control costs strikes me as ludicrous. Such bodies have neither the training nor overriding concern for patients’ welfare to be trusted to make those judgments. Why else do we have doctors if not to employ their expertise to apply nuanced approaches to complex situations? As long as they work in a system free of incentives that compete with their duty to their patients, they remain in the best position to make decisions about what tests and treatments are worth a given patient’s consideration, as long as they’re careful to avoid overconfident paternalism (refusing to obtain a head CT for a headache might be overconfidently paternalistic; refusing to offer chemotherapy for a cold isn’t). So perhaps we should eliminate any financial incentive doctors have to care about anything but their patients’ welfare, meaning doctors’ salaries should be disconnected from the number of surgeries they perform and the number of tests they order, and should instead be set by market forces. This model already exists in academic health care centers and hasn’t seemed to promote shoddy care when doctors feel they’re being paid fairly. Doctors need to earn a good living to compensate for the years of training and massive amounts of debt they amass, but no financial incentive for practicing more medicine should be allowed to attach itself to that good living.

4. Decrease overutilization of health care resources by patients. This, it seems to me, requires at least three interventions:

* Making available the right resources for the right problems (so that patients aren’t going to the ER for colds, for example, but rather to their primary care physicians). This would require hitting the “sweet spot” with respect to the number of primary care physicians, best at front-line gatekeeping, not of health care spending as in the old HMO model, but of triage and treatment. It would also require a recalculating of reimbursement levels for primary care services relative to specialty services to encourage more medical students to go into primary care (the reverse of the alarming trend we’ve been seeing for the last decade).

* A massive effort to increase the health literacy of the general public to improve its ability to triage its own complaints (so patients don’t actually go anywhere for colds or demand MRIs of their backs when their trusted physicians tells them it’s just a strain). This might be best accomplished through a series of educational programs (though given that no one in the private sector has an incentive to fund such programs, it might actually be one of the few things the government should—we’d just need to study and compare different educational programs and methods to see which, if any, reduce unnecessary patient utilization without worsening outcomes and result in more health care savings than they cost).

* Redesigning insurance plans to make patients in some way more financially liable for their health care choices. We can’t have people going bankrupt due to illness, nor do we want people to underutilize health care resources (avoiding the ER when they have chest pain, for example), but neither can we continue to support a system in which patients are actually motivated to overutilize resources, as the current “pre-pay for everything” model does.

CONCLUSION

Given the enormous complexity of the health care system, no single post could possibly address every problem that needs to be fixed. Significant issues not raised in this article include the challenges associated with rising drug costs, direct-to-consumer marketing of drugs, end-of-life care, sky-rocketing malpractice insurance costs, the lack of cost transparency that enables hospitals to paradoxically charge the uninsured more than the insured for the same care, extending health care insurance coverage to those who still don’t have it, improving administrative efficiency to reduce costs, the implementation of electronic medical records to reduce medical error, the financial burden of businesses being required to provide their employees with health insurance, and tort reform. All are profoundly interdependent, standing together like the proverbial house of cards. To attend to any one is to affect them all, which is why rushing through health care reform without careful contemplation risks unintended and potentially devastating consequences. Change does need to come, but if we don’t allow ourselves time to think through the problems clearly and cleverly and to implement solutions in a measured fashion, we risk bringing down that house of cards rather than cementing it.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2772660

Health Care Equipments

Health EquipmentTwo days are never the same in this industry and whatever you fabricate or deliver identified with wellbeing one needs to keep future in sight and keep the items reasonable and in addition result successful. We as a whole know and comprehend that nobody may ever wish to trade off on wellbeing benchmarks and this is something which every individual merits. In spite of the fact that this is a truth that in a nation like India even essential wellbeing offices are not set up so we can’t dream or envision about solaces or appropriate consideration. However individuals who can bear the cost of it and can offer self the best restorative consideration for them there is bounty in accessibility and at the solace of at whatever time and anyplace.

Since this industry has never witnessed recession more and more manufacturers are joining the league and with the population growth in our country one can be rest assured that health industry is there to grow and the demand for health and health related products will multiply with each passing day. Thus to offer a new meaning to health care many companies with innovative and much needed services have been launched in market which are doing pretty well and are redefining health industry and services in a big way. Now health care is not restricted to just hospitals, nursing homes and Government health care centres but one can afford it right at the comfort of his own home. There are companies offering home health care Delhi to individuals who need it and can afford it easily. Earlier this was a distant dream and whether possible or not one had to visit a hospital for a proper check up and medication which is no longer a story now.

This company offering the best of medical services at home in Delhi has meaningful tie-ups with medical equipment suppliers and thus can offer any kind of medical equipment which one needs for patient care at home. Not only individuals but there are few health centres who need medical equipments either on temporary or permanent basis can seek help from this company and procure them at the best market rates. This is only possible with the company’s vision to be the best preferred healthcare partner to set highest standards of quality and comprehensive healthcare to people at their doorsteps. They have the best of sleep diagnostic, respiratory home care Delhi, medical equipments for sale, rent, service and support and Bio resonance therapy support.

So if you are looking for any kind of testing to be done at home or wish to know the CPAP machine price in Delhi all you need to do is get in touch with the concerned person with this health care company and you will get the right help and support just in time. Health is the most important thing for any human being and being in this industry there cannot be a second though on compromising on quality and thus the best service, right equipments and excellent service is something which will pave the way for more success and adding value to human health.

Next page →

Maximizing Yoga’s Health Benefits In A Hot Yoga Sessions

Though Yoga (hot) has lately turn out to be popular in western cultures, it’s a practice which has been in existence for hundreds of years within India. Many individuals now grow to be students of Hot Yoga simply because of the amplified set of health benefits that outcomes from the distinction in heat.
Performed in a ‘hot room’, hot yoga gives students with a bunch of health benefits. Here are 5 techniques for learners to maximise health benefits obtained from Hot Yoga.

1. Set to it that you follow your class plan.
Attending hot yoga classes always is good, but it’ll not be consistent enough in your lifestyle to have a good impact. Try and attend a hot yoga class at least two times a week, so that your body becomes used to the heat and stretches being conducted on a regular basis.
2. Eat a sensible diet
With any healthly way of life and exercise programme, a well balanced diet is paramount. Your diet need to contain a lot of complex carbohydrates and proteins, allowing the body to refuel itself and repair torn muscle fibres. Having basic carbohydrates such as fruit is a fast way of gaining energy, just just before a class or just after (to regain energy quickly). Make certain your
fat intake is low and your fibre intake is high, allowing your food to be broken up and used far more efficiently.
3. Stretch out your muscles outside of the class
By allowing your body to become supple outside of the class in normal temperatures, you’ll be able to see bigger differences in your flexibility within the hot classes you attend. This will enable you to push beyond your boundaries, allowing your body to grow to be a lot more supple and muscles more stronger.
4. Try another sorts of yoga classes.
Ashtanga Yoga instructional classes or Hatha Yoga classes are other common varieties of Yoga, based on the health advantages that they promote. Mix up your weekly schedule by attending these other classes, as well as flow classes which need you to continue yoga movements in sequence, making the class far more challenging.
5. Don’t forget your 2 liters of drinking water per day.
Drinking a lot of water allows toxins to be flushed out of your system and more importantly for your body to be properly hydrated at all times. The slightest bit of dehydration can trigger you to underperform and not reach your full potential, so ensure you drink 2 litres of water per day, as well as taking a bottle of water to your hot yoga class.

Yoga Sandals & Toe Spreaders – Healthy Toes And Feet In No Time

Yoga Sandals and Toe spreaders are popular tools to re-train your toes to be able to spread. Also they can re-align the toes into their natural position after they have been squeezed in shoes for several hours (especially women suffer from toe misalignment due to unhealthy footwear like high heels and pointed toes).

Why wear yoga sandals?
In yoga training, there is an emphasis on separating the toes in the standing postures to improve the sense of grounding and balance, and these sandals re-train the toes to do just that, while exercising the foot muscles.

The dual action of heel bone support and spreading the toes strengthens foot muscles, keeps bones flexible and allows the arch to work naturally. Controlling the alignment of the heel improves ambulatory stability of the arch and reduces strain on the lower leg muscles. Break the myth – high arch support in shoes actually weakens the arch muscles. Heal support is critical to foot health. Our sandals promote proper foot motion from heel strike, rolling over to the litle toe and finishing the step on the big toe. Recommended by doctors, yoga instructors and upscale health spas.

Why use Toe Spreaders?
Exercises your feet and stretches your toes into healthy alignment. After continued use Healthytoes Toe Spreaders will work to relax, heal, beautify, and even strengthen your feet and toes. Also used by massage therapists, spas, nail salons, health educators and podiatrists, to help beautify, strengthen and heal active or inactive feet.

Where can I buy Yoga Sandals and Healthytoes Toe Spreaders?
If you look for an extensive range of Yoga Sandals and Healthytoes Toe spreaders, EMP Industries in Melbourne is the right choice for you. They offer great quality products at great prices.

What else can you get at EMP Industries?
EMP Industries is an Australian based and owned company that is now run in third generation. They have made themselves a name by offering the top American yoga clothing labels in Australia. EMP Industries is also famous for offering Yoga Mats, Pilates Mats, Yoga Blocks, Yoga Blankets, Stretching Straps, Yoga Sandals, Stretch Bands, Exercise Balls, Yoga DVDs, Dance DVDs,Pilates Rings, and many many more. EMP sells its products to the end customer but also offers wholesale prices for bulk buyers (usually prices start dropping when you order more than 10 items of one product). That is the reason EMP Industries counts most large yoga and pilates studios in Australia as their customers!

Try Out Some Best Yoga Exercises Online For Inner Peace & Healthy Life

Yoga becomes the most popular among people across the world. Yoga is the best way to find inner peace and becoming one with yourself. There are lots of free yoga exercises online that you can adopt, also many videos and books available that you can search through for more information and step-by-step guide.

The main objective of yoga is to enhance your strength and stamina that gives you more energy. By practicing you can feel healthier and fit. This can be done mainly with the use of yoga which be carried our properly to gain maximum effects and benefits of yoga. Different postures are meant for different purposes.

One of them is corpse pose that is the most basic and easiest pose to practice. This pose is to meditate. It is advisable for you to try those yoga postures that you can easily perform. Few yoga exercises are very tricky and require the help of trained yoga instructor.

A yoga exercise which can assist with diet and weight loss, especially around the stomach area is Bow pose. It is ideal for toning up the abdominal muscles as well as strengthening the back. This exercise also assists in giving lower part of the back more shaped and strengthen when done properly.

Above are the many reasons why people try yoga. Yoga helps in enhancing their fitness and strength or otherwise uses it for spiritual wellbeing and to keep themselves calm. For whatever reason you are practicing yoga, just find out as much information as you can to get best results of adopting yoga in your day today life. Try free yoga exercises online is a simple and cost effective way to learn most popular poses and techniques.

Divine Wellness, the most comprehensive resource for yoga exercises and postures, offers yoga classes online via HD video conferencing which let you practice yoga exercises at comfort of your place.

Health Benefits Of Mixed Martial Arts Training

Mixed martial arts is defined as a complete contact combat sport which involves a number of fighting skills and techniques, from a mixture of other fighting sports, used in competitions. Such training programs are great for the body and help one to improve stamina and strength.

It has been proved by a number of researches that individuals who practice any form of martial arts on a regular basis have high levels of fitness as compared to individuals who don’t. In addition to this, they also have a stronger immune system. These training programs are considered good for individuals suffering from innumerable health troubles like high cholesterol level, cardiac problems, high blood pressure, breathing difficulty, poor circulation and many others.

Some of the major benefits offered by MMA training programs are given below:

Increases flexibility and strength
This is one of the major benefits offered by such training programs. Regular training helps in the strengthening and toning of muscles thus increasing body flexibility. One becomes physical stronger and capable of defending himself from any kind of physical attack. Moreover, these training programs also help in muscle strengthening and stress release.

Weight loss programs
This is another major benefit associated with such training programs. Such programs are considered good for weight loss and help one to have a healthy and slim body.

Increases mind sharpness
Learning martial arts not only makes a person physically stronger but mentally sharper as well. The training involves good concentration and self control and thus improves coordination between the mind, body and soul.

Thus, mixed martial arts training provides innumerable health benefits to individuals and is becoming immensely popular worldwide. There are innumerable organizations which are offering MMA courses as per the needs of individuals.

There Square Measure Some Professionals World Health Organization Square

There square measure some professionals World Health Organization square measure arrogant regarding their talents. Being assured is nice, being arrogant is dangerous and sometimes it will produce issues that leave them with no escape route. These professionals attempt to economize once it involves get an expert emblem style in dire straits their organization. They need no plan of emblem style nonetheless the decision the skilled designers to their workplace and direct them to use his concepts. One may be rest assured that the custom emblem style created as per their directions can ultimately spoil the image of the corporate within the eyes of its purchasers. An expert job is best left within the hands of pros so no one ought to interfere once they square measure going regarding their work.
The same stand sensible for all sort and fields of labor and it’s true for the planning and printing business too. However, the good government thinks he is aware of a lot of regarding skilled emblem style than the accomplished artists square measure. Once you square measure utilizing the services of an expert for your organization’s emblem style services, it’s understood that you just square measure the boss and can be pull the strings. This can be understood and accepted by the planning agency which will undertake the work of planning the brand for your organization. These artists recognize that the chief can create corrections within the emblem styles submitted by them and that they recognize that a number of the changes won’t be appropriate for the brand.
They can then counsel what they suppose isn’t sensible for the brand and hope that the chief can trust their purpose of read. However, this doesn’t happen all the time. Since the chief has known as the agency to try and do the work, he believes that he is aware of the whole job, even supposing he cannot even draw a circle or perhaps a sq.. Nonetheless he can attempt to impose his views on the business emblem style of the corporate. Suggesting changes within the style to the ad agency once they need submitted many samples is one factor, however telling them the way to style the brand from scratch is blasphemy. Youll be able to be rest assured that the skilled artists can lose all interest within the job and that they won’t focus their minds on identical any longer.
If you’re fascinated by obtaining an expert emblem style created, leave it within the hands of the professionals rather than making an attempt to impose your purpose of read. they need undertaken several such tasks before square measure recognize a lot of regarding logos that you just would possibly ever learn throughout your lifespan. Itll be wiser if you spent you time telling them some details regarding the corporate and what it will. This can provide the styleers a base on that to conceive their design. Scrutinize any skilled emblem and you’ll notice that there’s a touch of the work done by the corporate it depicts. There square measure some corporations whose emblem doesn’t portray something. These corporations square measure therefore celebrated that they have no add the other things to their organization’s emblem.
For the primary few days the professionals from the planning agency would possibly hassle you to grasp a lot of regarding the corporate. This helps them to produce you with an expert emblem style. They could even check the present letter paper of the corporate to be told regarding the color schemes used. This can facilitate them to set up the color theme of the brand in order that its color doesn’t clash with the colors of alternative components within the page. One classic example utilized by several organizations is to use a cream colored paper with the text in blackness and also the emblem in red. This makes a wonderful combination and if the categories and emblem used square measure applicable, they’re guaranteed to attract one’s attention. Skilled emblem style implies that the brand ought to be catchy and at identical time it ought to be straightforward.
It shouldn’t leave the viewers speculative what the brand means that. If individuals begin brooding about what you emblem stands for, it’s time you bought a modification over done. whereas your sales representatives work for five days per week, and take holidays throughout Christmas and summer holidays, the brand keeps on operating while not whining twelve months a year. Theyre the most effective friends your company has. Is it not their due that they were created mistreatment skilled emblem style? If you’re associate government that desires to poke his nose within the initial stages of the skilled emblem design of your company’s emblem, here could be a hint. There square measure several books offered that has collections of the world’s best and award winning logos.
Purchase many of them and undergo the various logos they contain and take a look at to examine that one would best represent your company. Once you’ve got been able to target many of them, get Photostat copies product of them. This could be showed to the skilled styleers once they pay you a visit in context with the skilled emblem design of your company. Dont attempt to impose yourself on these artists and allow them to guide you. If you’re patient enough you’ll see that they’re going to presently return all the way down to your wavelength so you’ll be able to additionally create your views relating to the skilled emblem style understood by them simply.

Next page →