Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Consumer oriented Genomics and Ancestry.com


Ancestry.com takes DNA ownership rights from customers and their relatives


A word to the wise: Read the complete terms of service.

Read the fine print before you send in your sample to Ancestry.com .  The bottom line is you consent to give ownership of your genetic information to Ancestry.com . Ancestry.com can use your genotype for anything it wants.  They can use methods to copy it, transcribe it, modify it and use it for whatever purposes they want and gain profit from it.




There are three significant provisions in the AncestryDNA Privacy Policy and Terms of Service to consider on behalf of yourself and your genetic relatives: (1) the perpetual, royalty-free, world-wide license to use your DNA; (2) the warning that DNA information may be used against “you or a genetic relative”; (3) your waiver of legal rights.

So, you still own your DNA, however Ancestry.com also owns it. It is not a partnership.  Normally when a company owns something that they don't own they pay a royalty payment each time it is used. Essentially you are paying them to use your DNA.  What do you get in return ?  Their marketing literature explains it.

The AncestryDNA service promises to, “uncover your ethnic mix, discover distant relatives, and find new details about your unique family history with a simple DNA test.”
For the price of $69 dollars and a small saliva sample, AncestryDNA customers get an analysis of their genetic ethnicity and a list of potential relatives identified by genetic matching. Ancestry.com, on the other hand, gets free ownership of your genetic information forever. Technically, Ancestry.com will own your DNA even after you’re dead.
Specifically, by submitting DNA to AncestryDNA, you agree to “grant AncestryDNA and the Ancestry Group Companies a perpetual, royalty-free, world-wide, transferable license to use your DNA, and any DNA you submit for any person from whom you obtained legal authorization as described in this Agreement, and to use, host, sublicense and distribute the resulting analysis to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered.”
Basically, Ancestry.com gets to use or distribute your DNA for any research or commercial purpose it decides and doesn’t have to pay you, or your heirs, a dime. Furthermore, Ancestry.com takes this royalty-free license in perpetuity (for all time) and can distribute the results of your DNA tests anywhere in the world and with any technology that exists, or will ever be invented. With this single contractual provision, customers are granting Ancestry.com the broadest possible rights to own and exploit their genetic information.

The AncestryDNA terms also requires customers to confirm that, “You understand that by providing any DNA to us, you acquire no rights in any research or commercial products that may be developed by AncestryDNA that may relate to or otherwise embody your DNA.” Essentially, you still own your DNA, but so does Ancestry.com. And, you can commercialize your own DNA for money, but Ancestry.com is also allowed to monetize your DNA for millions of dollars and doesn’t have to compensate you.
Although AncestryDNA customers provide voluntary consent to have their DNA used in commercial research projects, customers are free to withdraw consent, with a few exceptions. First, “data cannot be withdrawn from research already in progress or completed, or from published results and findings.” In those cases, Ancestry.com has access to data about you indefinitely.
Secondly, if a customer withdraws their consent, Ancestry.com will take 30 days to cease using their data for research. Finally, withdrawing consent, “will not result in destruction of your DNA Sample or deletion of your Data from AncestryDNA products and services, unless you direct us otherwise.” Customers must jump through additional hoops if they want their DNA sample destroyed or their data deleted from AncestryDNA products and services. The Ancestry.com policy does not specify what “additional steps” are required. U.S. customers must contact Ancestry.com customer service at 1–800–958–9124 to find out. (Customers outside the United States must call separate customer service numbers.)
Their marketing literature posted on their web site is rather seductive about the wonderful genomic science that will allow you to discover where your relatives come from or even connections with other members of your family.  It however, other than the legal disclosures when you  sign up says nothing about their legal claim to your genetic data. BEWARE !

















https://thinkprogress.org/ancestry-com-takes-dna-ownership-rights-from-customers-and-their-relatives-dbafeed02b9e

Friday, May 19, 2017

UnitedHealth Doctored Medicare Records, Overbilled U.S. By $1 Billion, Feds Claim | California Healthline

The complexities of billing Medicare in Medicare Advantage Programs is leading to fraudulent claims.



Advantage plans are paid by Medicare according to a risk sharing formula and payments can vary from year to year.

By Fred Schulte

In a 79-page lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, the Justice Department alleged that the insurer made patients appear sicker than they were in order to collect higher Medicare payments than it deserved. The government said it had “conservatively estimated” that the company “knowingly and improperly avoided repaying Medicare” for more than a billion dollars over the course of the decade-long sche

UnitedHealth Doctored Medicare Records, Overbilled U.S. By $1 Billion, Feds Claim | California Healthline

Medicare pays the health plans using a complex formula called a risk score, which is supposed to pay higher rates for sicker patients than for people in good health. But waste and overspending tied to inflated risk scores has repeatedly been cited by government auditors, including the Government Accountability Office. A series of articles published in 2014 by the Center for Public Integrity concluded that improper payments linked to jacked-up risk scores have cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.
Tuesday’s court filing argues that UnitedHealth repeatedly ignored findings from its own auditors that risk scores were often inflated — and warnings by officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) — that it was responsible for ensuring the billings it submitted were accurate.
All but two of 37 Medicare Advantage plans examined in a 2007 audit were overpaid — often by thousands of dollars per patient. Overall, just 60 percent of the medical conditions health plans were paid to cover could be verified. The 2007 audits are the only ones that have been made public.
Audits in these cases are difficult to trace. One factor may be due to inaccurate coding and/or incomplete medical records from providers notes in either a chart or in an EHR.   This may be due to time pressures  and inadequate time allotment for providers to complete their CPT and ICD coding.
While the feds are focused on the insurance companies, part of the blame may rest on providers themselves...insulated now by another level of bureaucracy.  In an effort to reduce CMS cost, CMS has shifted the burden to Advantage plans.  The blame game comes into operation in this case.
The current complexity of billing is such that it encourages omissions and faulty record keeping. CMS audits numbers, codes for CPT and ICD, in a digital manner, not an analog manner.
Stay tuned and add Health Train Express to your feeds by subscribing to a feed or by email.

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Primary Care Doctor Speaks Out: “The Problem Isn’t Obamacare…It’s The Insurance Companies” | Bluedot Daily

CATHLEEN LONDONSPECIAL TO THE PRESS HERALD


Read what this primary care physician (G.P.) Family doctor has to say about insurance companies, including Medicare.
Cathleen London is a primary care physician in Milbridge, a rural town in Maine. She claims the problem isn’t Obamacare itself, but rather, the entire health insurance system and insurance companies are to blame.
Writing for the Portland Press Herald, London explains she is a a primary care physician who is on the front lines every single day, as  her town is very remote, which means it takes 30 to 40 minutes to get to the emergency room, which is why her office operates as an urgent care facility as well as a family medical practice.
It’s takes an ambulance about 20 minutes to get to her clinic and specialist care about 2 hours away, so Dr. London is trained to handle about 90 percent of medical problems.

DR. LONDON EXPLAINS THE FOLLOWING, WHICH WILL SHOW YOU EXACTLY WHAT’S WRING WITH HEALTH CARE:

One evening I was almost home after a full day’s work. Around 7:30, I got a call on the emergency line regarding an 82-year-old man who had fallen and split his head open. His wife wanted to know if I could see him, even though he was not a patient of mine.
Instead of sending them to the ER, I went back to the office. I spent 90 minutes evaluating him, suturing his wound and making sure that nothing more sinister had occurred than a loss of footing by a man who has mild dementia. When I was sure that the man would be safe, I let them go.
I billed a total of $789 for the visit, repair, after-hours and emergency care costs. Stating that the after-hours and emergency services had been billed incorrectly, Martin’s Point Health Care threw out the claims and reimbursed me $105, which does not even cover the suture and other materials I used.
I called them about their decision, said that it was not right and let them know they’d lose me if they reimbursed this as a routine patient visit. They replied, “Go ahead and send your termination letter” – which I did.
The same day, Anthem Blue Cross kept me on the phone for 45 minutes regarding a breast MRI recommended by radiologists on a woman whose mother and sister had died of breast cancer. She’d had five months of breast discharge that wasn’t traceable to anything benign (and it turns out the MRI is highly suspicious for cancer).
Anthem did not want to approve the MRI unless it was to localize a lesion for biopsy, even though the mammogram had been inconclusive! This should have been a slam-dunk fast track to approval; instead, dealing with Anthem wasted a good part of my day.
Then Aetna told me there is no way to negotiate fees in Maine. I was somewhat flabbergasted. I do more here than I did in either Brookline, Massachusetts, or New York. The rates should be higher given the level of care I am providing. I have chosen not to participate with them. This only hurts patients; however, I cannot keep losing money on visits.
I do lose money on MaineCare – their reimbursement is below what it costs me to see a patient. For now, that is a decision that I am living with.
I had thought those losses would be offset by private insurance companies, but their cost shifting to patients is obscene. I pay half of my employees’ health insurance, though I’m not required to by law – I just think it is the right thing to do.
My personal policy costs close to $900 a month for me and my sons (all healthy), and each of us has a $6,000 deductible. This means I am paying rack rate for a policy that provides only bare-bones coverage.
Something is wrong with the system. In one day, I encountered everything wrong with insurance. I am not trying to scam the system. I am literally trying to survive. I am trying to give care in an underserved area.
This is not the fault of Obamacare, which stopped the most egregious problems with insurance companies. Remember lifetime caps? Remember denials for pre-existing conditions? Remember the retroactive cancellation of insurance policies? Returning to that is not an option.
Indeed it is not an option, Dr. London.  If Republicans get their way eventually by repealing Obamacare, it may be where we end up again. If Republicans really get their way, it’ll be even worse than it was before.






Primary Care Doctor Speaks Out: “The Problem Isn’t Obamacare…It’s The Insurance Companies” | Bluedot Daily

California To Pay About $1.3 Billion For Medicaid Expansion In First Year Of State Contributions | California Healthline



The senate is debating a new American Health Care Act (AHCA) as time ticks on.  Meanwhile many provisions  of the ACA continue to unfold.

For example the State of California is preparing to pay $ 1.3 billion to underwrite Medicaid (Medi-Cal), a new expenditure that will further strain an already burdened health care budget.

By  Emily Bazar
This year marks the first time states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act will have to pitch in to help fund their expansion of the program. Their share of the overall price tag compared with federal contributions is small — 5 percent of the cost to cover newly eligible enrollees — but that still equates to real money in the Golden State.
That’s because the expansion of Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid program for low-income residents, has added nearly 4 million additional enrollees, according to the state Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). Most other states don’t have that many enrollees in their entire Medicaid programs.
“It was expected, but it’s still money that has to come from somewhere,” said Stan Rosenstein, a health care consultant in Sacramento who ended his 31-year career at Medi-Cal in 2008 as the state Medicaid director. “It puts budget strain on the state.”
In California, the potential loss of federal dollars caused by a rollback of the Medi-Cal expansion would be massive. The state Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated in February that the Golden State is slated to receive more than $17 billion from the federal government for the expansion in 2017-18.   Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his revised $183 billion state budget last week.
If the House GOP plan were adopted, Medi-Cal expansion enrollees would likely fall off the rolls in large numbers after 2020 because of natural churn in and out of the program and a new provision that would require enrollees to renew their coverage every six months, twice as often as under current law.
As expansion enrollees drop, so would the more generous federal funding. Facing reduced federal support, the state may not be able to continue to allow people to enroll under the expanded eligibility criteria, said Deborah Kelch, executive director of Insure the Uninsured Project.


As lofty as the ACA is it did not take into account 3, 4, or 5 years down the road what financial cycles can do to state and/or federal budgets.  
The Affordable Care Act continues to sink. Economic realities will impact state and federal monies eventually forcing reductions in enrollees and reimbursements to hospitals and providers.
Of course the Feds can always print more currency.














“This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation.”



California To Pay About $1.3 Billion For Medicaid Expansion In First Year Of State Contributions | California Healthline

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

LA County looks at planning for possible Obamacare repeal | 89.3 KPCC

Health Train Express examines the conundrum of revising the Affordable Care Act. There are outcries about how the  Affordable Care Act is not working. Yet millions of Americans now have health insurance coverage. No, it is not perfect. Deductibles are higher, and in some cases premiums are still not affordable for many patients.  Perhaps the reason is that one law cannot anticipate individual health care needs. Additional taxation of medical devices, and other necessities of medical care has brought an outcry from those affected.  Uniformly patients are satisfied with elimination of the 'prior existing' language of former  policies.

Hopefully this article can serve as a starting point, by following the embedded url links.

As congress attempts to pass a workable alternative to ObamaCare, the House has passed the American Health Care Act, and now the Senate is writing its own version of a plan. The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land.  It has not been repealed and will remain in effect unless Congress repeals it, or President Trump by executive order repeals or it.  Either event would be   politically unlikely without a suitable replacement.

Obamacare transition plans are causing Los Angeles County and others with high rates of previously uninsured to plan for interruptions in health coverage.  LA County is seeking consultant's to plan a transition plan to fill the void.

Some local jurisdications are searching for alternative plans.

Under consideration by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday: 

The county wants to be ready as the U.S. Senate considers its steps on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The House passed the American Health Care Act, which would make significant changes to the nation's health care, early this month. The L.A. County Chief Executive Office recommends the board reinstate retired health policy adviser Fred Leaf as a temporary hire. If the board approves the motion, Leaf would help develop the county’s position and plan to move forward in the event Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act.  "We need to have a coordinated strategy moving forward to be able to handle whatever it is that happens," said Dr. Christine Ghaly, chief operations officer for the Department of Health Services.
Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are not over, despite the failure of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) legislation. The major challenge facing the AHCA was the loss of insurance coverage for an estimated 24 million people.1 Any subsequent reform, especially those less costly than the ACA, will have the same challenge of keeping currently insured individuals and households from discontinuing their insurance. In this Viewpoint, we draw on behavioral economics to propose 4 general principles for health insurance reform to help ensure that the currently insured will not lose their coverage.



Health care policy making is technically complex, of course. But it is also complex in that the president and Republicans seeking to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) face very difficult political and philosophical choices. It was evident from the internal backlash to the recent Republican House committeebills that there is a deep divide among Republicans on these choices.

Consider 3 such tough issues: deciding what coverage means, making hard choices about subsidies, and determining how to cover people with chronic illnesses.

What Does “Coverage” Mean?

A key metric in the ACA replace debate has been the number of people who are “insured” or “covered.” The true purpose of insurance is to protect people from ruinous costs, such as from a terrible accident or a chronic condition. However, most people in the United States think health insurance should also cover routine costs.

Therefore, an ACA exchange plan that costs hundreds of dollars in monthly premiums and has a deductible of perhaps several thousand dollars, may technically be good insurance, but many people think it is not meaningful “coverage” because it leaves them exposed to possibly hefty routine costs. Indeed, polling has shown people in the United States generally view the ACA favorably or unfavorably depending on whether their own premium and out-of-pocket costs have been rising—even if they are not actually in an ACA plan.

Trump responded to this public perception by pledging better coverage with cheaper premiums and lower deductibles for everyone. So Republicans are now struggling to find ways of accomplishing that promise.

One popular Republican proposal is to reduce insurance costs by paring back the “essential health benefits” that ACA exchange plans must provide—so people don’t have to pay for benefits they supposedly do not want. However, the ACA’s required benefits mostly cover what Americans consider basic insurance, such as hospital stays and prescription drugs, so there is little room for paring back. Meanwhile, eliminating more controversial benefits, such as birth control, would have little impact on insurance costs.

Another popular idea is permitting families to buy inexpensive insurance from anywhere in the country. That sounds like an easy cost-cutting measure, but it’s not. Insurance today is typically tied to local networks of physicians and hospitals; thus, an out-of-state plan might be cheaper but essentially inaccessible. Most likely, with reduced regulation, we would see cheap cash indemnity plans aimed at healthy individuals. However, if large numbers of healthy people in a state did buy such out-of-state plans, that would undermine the state’s insurance pool and push up the average cost for remaining enrollees.

Designing Subsidies

Both the supporters and the critics of the ACA accept that some level of subsidy is needed for many families to afford coverage. Here again, Republicans seeking to replace the ACA face some hard choices in how they would construct such subsidies.

Bringing down the general cost of coverage would require a large infusion of new money or retaining some ACA taxes. Without that, many people will have a hollow choice between unaffordable plans. However, the House bills triggered angry resistance from fiscal conservatives opposed to keeping even some ACA taxes.

Even putting that problem aside still leaves hard design choices. Many Republicans favor a broad tax deduction for health coverage. But a deduction is of no value to the nearly half of US individuals who pay no federal income tax, and the greatest benefit goes to higher-income households who least need a subsidy. For that reason, the House Republican leadership opted for an income-related tax credit that is “refundable”—meaning available to households that pay no income tax. Yet even if the proposed refundable income-related credit were reconfigured to be made adequate, many conservatives balk at the idea of refundability, arguing that it would be a new cash entitlement.

An existential problem for Republicans remains, however. If they refuse to subsidize millions of modest- and lower-income individuals to buy private insurance, the only way to honor the President’s pledge would be to provide public coverage.

How Should We Cover Sicker Individuals?

A commitment to adequate and affordable coverage for all also means deciding how to address people who develop chronic illness, especially when young, and then try to buy insurance. In a less-regulated market, these individuals are literally uninsurable at a price that even comparatively well-off people can afford—but somehow, their treatment must be paid for.

There are only 2 broad options to deal with this group. One way, adopted in the ACA, is to spread their high costs across the entire insured population by requiring plans to cover all risks and limiting the range of premiums and deductibles insurers can charge. The problem with this approach is that premiums for younger, healthier individuals then become “artificially” high, making their purchase of coverage less economically attractive unless they receive generous subsidies. If these healthy people leave the insurance pool, such as by forgoing insurance, that raises the average cost of insuring those remaining in the pool.

The unpopular individual mandate penalty is meant to discourage this pattern (the House legislation explicitly repeals the mandate—but then adds back a penalty on people who wait to buy coverage until they are sick). Opting out is a particular problem in the ACA exchanges because healthier people can still obtain coverage in the less-regulated nonexchange individual market, making the exchange insurance pool more costly (a partial solution to this would be to merge the individual market with the exchange market, as has been done in Vermont and the District of Columbia).

The other way to cover people with high health care costs, embraced by the House legislation, is to fund states and hospitals to provide these individuals with extra services or place them in a separate subsidized insurance risk pool so their premiums are affordable. Subsidizing high-cost individuals in this separate way allows regular premiums to be lower for healthier individuals—making a mandate for coverage less necessary. Conservative analysts argue that carefully designed risk pools are an effective alternative to controlling premiums to cover expensive individuals, and can cover people “invisibly” and at reasonable cost. Some liberal analysts counter that the government cost would be too high for most Republicans to accept. But the bottom line is that a high-risk pool approach can only work if it is adequately funded.

These are just 3 of the many difficult issues Republicans have to deal with in designing an alternative to the ACA that adheres to Trump’s commitment to provide better and less expensive coverage. As my colleagues and I have pointed out, there are certainly ways to craft an alternative to the ACA that might appeal to many—though not all—Republicans. But that task is indeed complex, and requires a constructive consensus among Republicans that is currently lacking and may be unattainable.

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Article Information
Corresponding Author: Stuart M. Butler, PhD (smbutler@brookings.edu).
Published Online: March 15, 2017, at http//:newsatjama.jama.com/category/the-jama-forum/.
Disclaimer: Each entry in The JAMA Forum expresses the opinions of the author but does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of JAMA, the editorial staff, or the American Medical Association.
Additional Information: Information about The JAMA Forum, including disclosures of potential conflicts of interest, is available at http://newsatjama.jama.com/about/.
Note: The print version excludes source references. Please go online to jama.com.


 : LA County looks at planning for possible Obamacare repeal | 89.3 KPCC

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Death By A Thousand Clicks: Leading Boston Doctors Decry Electronic Medical Records | CommonHealth

WBUR  
It’s death by a thousand clicks, and it happens every day.
We are frustrated by EMRs because they pull us away from our patients. We are driven mad by the fact that EMRs in different locations do not talk to each other. And we think it’s just wrong that much of the EMR’s busywork is about optimizing billing for the hospital.
Who is to blame? Start with EMR manufacturers, who lobbied Congress to require every hospital and doctor’s office to install an EMR system; hospital administrators who bought technology that conveniently pushed billing duties onto doctors and nurses; and federal regulators, who imposed on EMRs numerous quality metric requirements that do nothing to improve care.
We do not want to go backward. We believe that computing is essential to the future of medicine. We simply want all EMRs to live up to their promise of improving care and making patient information readily available.
Thousands of doctors in Boston and across the country are expressing the same frustration, through gritted teeth, between exasperated sighs, and in resignation letters. EMRs are driving too many health care providers to hang up their scrubs and white coats in search of work that is less infuriating and more fulfilling.

The sound of medicine is not the click of a mouse. It is the human voice. Let’s bring it back.

To do this well takes time and undivided attention.
Making sense of a patient’s blood panel means knowing the patient’s work and eating habits, and where he or she may have traveled. We need to know if the patient is experiencing a traumatic life event, like the death of a parent or domestic abuse, in order to interpret an elevated blood pressure.
Instead of making this easier, most EMRs create extra work. A lot of extra work, thanks to endless prompts with multiple choice answers that hardly ever fit the facts and that demand click after click to get anything done.
Want to order a simple test? That requires getting through multiple prompts. Need to write a prescription -- an exercise that used to take less than 15 seconds? Another set of clicks.
Typing, filing, mailing results and placing referrals all used to be done by assistants. Now, EMRs put that burden on clinicians, and we must do it during office visits, or “encounters,” as EMRs call them. And when the wrong button is clicked, the wrong test or drug is ordered, or it does not go through at all, delaying medical care.
It’s death by a thousand clicks, and it happens every day.
We are frustrated by EMRs because they pull us away from our patients. We are driven mad by the fact that EMRs in different locations do not talk to each other. And we think it’s just wrong that much of the EMR’s busywork is about optimizing billing for the hospital.
Who is to blame? Start with EMR manufacturers, who lobbied Congress to require every hospital and doctor’s office to install an EMR system; hospital administrators who bought technology that conveniently pushed billing duties onto doctors and nurses; and federal regulators, who imposed on EMRs numerous quality metric requirements that do nothing to improve care.
We do not want to go backward. We believe that computing is essential to the future of medicine. We simply want all EMRs to live up to their promise of improving care and making patient information readily available.
Thousands of doctors in Boston and across the country are expressing the same frustration, through gritted teeth, between exasperated sighs, and in resignation letters. EMRs are driving too many health care providers to hang up their scrubs and white coats in search of work that is less infuriating and more fulfilling.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Cyber-attacks are real. Every day thousands of intrusions are attempted. Thanks to modern operating systems almost all are thwarted. However if you are still using old or obsolete OS such as Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or 8 those systems do not have adequate protection from viruses, trojans, or malware.

The first investment is to upgrade to Windows 10 which has frequent updates for new viruses, trojans and/or malware. Chrome also has regular updates as needed which load everytime you start Chrome.

The video above outlines the progress of the attack this past week which brought down many systems in hospitals and other businesses.


 Remember no matter how well you think you are protected, hackers will find ways to usurp   your system.

The latest in "ransomware".  The hacker will install an encrypted hack. When the user attempts to log in they will receive a message such as this one.

"Your system has been locked and encrypted. It can be restored by sending a payment of XXX via bitcoin.  Click here to begin."

Many users will capitulate and pay the ransom. In business time is money and the amount of time lost can be damaging to reputation and income

Prevention:

Do not DOWNLOAD OR OPEN email attachments from unknown sources
Use current operating systems.
Avoid suspicious emails or websites.  Modern browsers will search for certificates and other indications that the web site is suspicious or has been reported to be carrying malware or trojans.

Meanwhile:

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How Telehealth can add to Precision Medicine

Telemedicine offers speed, convenience, and efficiency but isn't right for every situation. Making the right call for cardiology consults should rests in the hands of primary care physicans making the referral together with the patient, says Jason Wasfy, MD.
In this exclusive video, Wasfy, director of quality and analytics at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center in Boston, discusses how such an e-consult system has worked at his center.
So, there are some patients that need to come into the office. They're complicated, they need a physical examination, they may need to be followed with time, but there [are] other patients where their question for cardiologists is very discrete and limited, and what they really need is to know the answer as quickly as possible. There was probably a time in medicine where doctors would brag about how long their waiting list was, that the doctor that had the longest waiting list to get in to see them was the best physician, and I think that's the old days. We want to deliver care to patients as quickly as possible to relieve anxiety, to make sure that they have the input they need as quickly as possible.
So, e-consult allows us a mechanism to get discrete information about a clinical question, from the cardiologist to the primary care doctor, who can then share with the patient. But because we're accommodating some of the questions that way, we also have more bandwidth in our clinics to see the more complicated patients -- for example, people who need caths or people who need procedures. So, we find it a very effective mechanism of addressing patients' needs in the way that they perceive their own needs.
There are different ways to do e-consult. One is sort of an active referral mechanism, where all the referrals coming into our office, a cardiologist can triage them and say, "Oh, I'll see that one in the office, but this question I can answer without seeing the patient." We do not take that approach. We empower our primary care physicians, together with the patients in the office, to decide what they think is most appropriate for the clinical question. And we really think that's important. Because there are some times when I'm getting a referral that I think I can answer the question about the EKG, but I've never met the patient in person, and I don't understand that they're anxious and that their father had a heart attack at a young age, and these sorts of intangible points that are really hard to know until you meet the patient. That's why instead of going through an active referral process, where you go through the referrals and say I can answer this one via e-consult or I'll see this one in the office, we give that choice to the patient and to the primary care doctor. We allow them that choice.
We've done detailed surveys of our patients and our primary care providers just to make sure that they're happy with the mechanism, and we had have very high satisfaction rates, both among referring doctors and patients. And we think part of that is because we empower them to decide upfront, do they want an electronic consult where they get an answer in 48 hours or are they willing to wait a little longer for an in-person evaluation? We'd like to customize the care we deliver to the patients' preferences and the patients' needs.
Patient engagement is a major factor. Within the bounds of safety...what does your patient want?












Pearls From: Jason Wasfy, MD | Medpage Today

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mom’s Policy, Medicaid Or A Health Exchange Plan: What’s A Grad To Do?

Graduating students now have several options for insurance plans. The Affordable Care Act has introduced several options.


As graduation approaches for thousands of young adults this spring, sorting out your health insurance options may seem more daunting than any political economics problem you faced at school.
You may not think it’s a high priority, but remember: Even healthy young people wind up in the emergency room for all sorts of mishaps, and having health insurance will let you get preventive care, including contraceptives, without paying for it.
As graduation approaches for thousands of young adults this spring, sorting out your health insurance options may seem more daunting than any political economics problem you faced at school.
You may not think it’s a high priority, but remember: Even healthy young people wind up in the emergency room for all sorts of mishaps, and having health insurance will let you get preventive care, including contraceptives, without paying for it.
There are several items to consider when choosing.
Take A Look At Your Parents’ Health Insurance.
In 2015, 29 percent of 19- to 25-year-olds were covered as dependents on their parents’ job-based plan, according to a Commonwealth Fund analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. It was the most common type of coverage for this age group.
Employer-sponsored plans are often more generous than an individual plan on the marketplace, with more comprehensive benefits and lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs. And parents can pass these benefits on.
Compare Coverage Through Your Employer.
Seventeen percent of young adults were insured by their own employer in 2015.
Large employers often offer insurance plans, called PPOs, that let workers choose their own doctors and providers from the insurer’s network and often allow them to seek care outside the network if the patient pays a larger share of the cost. A typical PPO plan offered by an employer with at least 500 employees paid for 87 percent of enrollees’ health care costs on average, according to data from benefits consultant Mercer. Compare that with the most popular silver-level plans sold on the ACA’s online marketplaces, which pay 70 percent of costs.
One benefit of an employer’s plan over your parents’: Buying your own plan may improve the odds that you’ll find doctors and hospitals nearby that are in your health plan’s provider network, said Erin Hemlin, director of training and education at Young Invincibles, an advocacy group for young adults.
If Employer Coverage Isn’t An Option, Consider The State Marketplace.
Twenty-two percent of young adults under 26 had marketplace coverage in 2015.
Marketplace plans must provide comprehensive coverage, including hospitalization, drugs and doctor visits. In addition, if your income is between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $12,000 to $48,000 for an individual) you could qualify for tax credits that will help cover the cost of premiums.
If you have a college health plan that ends when you graduate, you may qualify for a special enrollment period to sign up for a marketplace plan. But if you’re uninsured or insured through your parents, you probably can’t buy a marketplace plan until the next open enrollment period in the fall.
A key consideration: If your parents claim you as a tax dependent, you can’t claim the premium tax credit yourself, said Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Unemployed? Uninsured? Consider Medicaid.
In 2015, 15 percent of people between ages 19 and 25 were on Medicaid.
To date, 31 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid coverage to adults with incomes of about $16,000 or less.
If you don’t have a job or earn very little and you live in one of these states, you may qualify for Medicaid, which provides comprehensive coverage, typically without a premium.
Unlike marketplace coverage, there’s no open enrollment period for Medicaid. You can apply anytime through your state Medicaid agency, healthcare.gov or your state marketplace.
A key consideration: If your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes, it could also affect your eligibility.
This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.








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