Consumer Driven Health Care

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Kentucky Among Nation's Sickest States

Tue Jul 19,11:32 AM ET

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Kentucky ranks among the unhealthiest states — a plight that's largely self-inflicted due to smoking, eating fatty foods and not exercising enough, The Courier-Journal reported in a special section published Sunday.

Chronic poor health threatens lives and hits all Kentuckians in the pocketbook through taxes and insurance premiums, according to the Louisville newspaper's special report.

On almost every health measure, Kentuckians fare poorly — second worst nationally for cancer deaths, fifth worst for cardiovascular deaths and seventh worst for obesity, according to the paper, which published a special eight-page section on the state's poor health.

Kentuckians die at a rate of 18 percent above the national average, the newspaper reported. Its report said residents of all income levels are disabled and killed by cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes — chronic illnesses that are linked to smoking, poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles.

"We don't have to worry about foreign aggressors," said Dr. Baretta Casey, a Hazard physician and University of Kentucky professor. "We are killing ourselves off."

Poverty is at the center of the problem, factoring into nutrition, health habits and medical care that people receive. Minorities in Kentucky's cities, who are disproportionately poor, die from diseases at rates comparable to those in some of the hardest-hit rural areas. And Kentucky has 43 of the nation's 340 persistently poor rural counties.

In Knott County, two brothers and a father share a small house and serious health woes.

James White, 42, weighs 340 pounds and has high blood pressure, but still eats mostly fatty foods, such as fried chicken and pork chops. His older brother Eddie, 46, had a six-way heart bypass last year. He is unemployed and uninsured and so can afford little medical care. He owes thousands of dollars in medical bills.

Their father, Fred "Justin" White, 70, has heart disease, chronic kidney failure and Parkinson's disease. He can't stand for more than 10 minutes at a time, gets around using a cane he carved and needs help with tasks as simple as dressing.

At the White House Clinic in McKee, also in eastern Kentucky, Dr. Sandra Dionisio remembers a patient with cancer so advanced she had a foul-smelling, open wound in her breast.

"I see a lot of illnesses similar to a third-world country," said Dionisio, an internist trained in the Philippines.

The General Assembly took steps this year to deal with the state's health woes, raising the cigarette tax from 3 cents a pack to 30 cents and passing legislation to improve nutrition and physical fitness in schools.

Dr. James Holsinger Jr., secretary of the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said he and Gov. Ernie Fletcher, also a physician, view health as a top priority.

"We've got some big mountains to climb," Holsinger said.

Each of the state's major chronic diseases costs the Medicaid program hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. In the fiscal year ending June 2003, Medicaid spent $611 million for diabetes, $422 million for cancer, $372 million for coronary artery disease and $728 million for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The state and federal program provides health insurance for the poor, disabled and those in nursing homes.

Health-related costs are a concern for Mike Hamrick, a 45-year-old pastor in Lawrenceburg and a father of two teenagers, even though his family is generally healthy. Health insurance takes a large chunk of his salary.

If the state's population were healthier, experts said, government would be able to spend more money on other priorities.

"Any dollar you spend on Medicaid, you don't have to spend on K-12 education, for example, said Jeanne Boeh, chairwoman of the economics department at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

But the chronic diseases plaguing Kentuckians are linked to behaviors that are woven into the state's culture, making them difficult to change.

Smoking is a prime example. Kentucky, the nation's top producer of burley tobacco, also has the highest percentage of adult smokers. Almost one out of three Kentucky adults light up despite evidence that smoking contributes to heart disease, strokes and lung cancer.

Lung cancer kills Kentuckians at the nation's highest rate.

Carolyn Sue Cheek of Clay County started smoking at age 7. The 51-year-old once quit for more than a year, but started up again under the stress of watching her mother, a former smoker, die of lung cancer.

Cheek, who smokes two or three packs a day, labors to breathe with asthma and emphysema. She tells her grandchildren: "Don't ever take up the smoking habit. You know how Mom-mom struggles with her lungs."

Poor eating and exercise habits also are common.

Many Kentucky meals include fried and fatty foods, part of the traditional Southern diet.

Compounding the problem, research shows that two-thirds of Kentuckians in 2003 didn't meet national recommendations to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week.

More than a quarter of all state residents are obese, putting them at risk for heart attack, stroke, Type II diabetes and colorectal cancer.

Unless far more effort and political will is focused on curing the problem, health advocates said, a bad situation will only worsen as obese children, young smokers and baby boomers grow older.

However, experts and advocates said Kentucky's problems are not insurmountable. If the state solves its health crisis, it can show the way for the rest of the nation, which now has a lower life expectancy than such industrialized countries as Canada, Japan and Germany.

"Our state does not have to be the worst health state in the nation," said Casey, the Hazard doctor. "Don't ever take up the smoking habit."

The newspaper plans two more special reports this year on the health of Kentuckians. As part of its series, it also scheduled a free health fair July 26 in conjunction with a television station and a number of health groups.

Huckabee New Head of National Governors

By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer Mon Jul 18, 4:51 PM ET

DES MOINES, Iowa - Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee became chairman of the National Governors Association on Monday, starting a health initiative with roots in his own weight problem.


During his one-year term, Huckabee, a Republican, will focus on preventive health efforts such as combatting obesity, boosting exercise and reducing smoking.

"We want to focus on the entire culture," said Huckabee, who holds himself out as an example. He has lost 110 pounds in the last two years after being diagnosed with diabetes.

Huckabee said scientific advances over the past 200 years have led to longer life expectancies for Americans, but poor health habits are threatening that trend.

"The facts are simple: More than a quarter of all American adults are physically inactive and 65 percent are overweight," Huckabee said. "We must change this dangerous trend, otherwise our unhealthy lifestyle will doom an entire generation of young people."

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, was named vice chairwoman of the association. She will head a task force named by Huckabee to recommend steps that can be taken to promote healthier lifestyles.

Other members include Govs.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, of California; Tom Vilsack, of Iowa; Mark Sanford, of South Carolina; and Phil Bredesen, of Tennessee.

During the year, Huckabee said he would convene workshops across the country, urge governors to implement health programs for state workers and review health programs like Medicaid to build in lifestyle issues.

To Sell Their Drugs, Companies Increasingly Rely on Doctors

To Sell Their Drugs, Companies
Increasingly Rely on Doctors

For $750 and Up, Physicians
Tell Peers About Products;
Talks Called Educational
Dr. Pitts's Busy Speaking Tour

July 15, 2005; Page A1

NEW YORK -- On a recent Wednesday evening, neurologist Lawrence Newman spoke to a dozen doctors in a private alcove off the soaring dining room of Guastavino's and made the case that migraine headaches are seriously underdiagnosed.

Migraine treatment "should be bread and butter for primary-care doctors," he told attendees at the midtown Manhattan restaurant. While patients might say they're having a sinus headache, there's a good chance it's actually a migraine and can be treated with a migraine drug, Dr. Newman said.

It was a message friendly to migraine-drug makers, and no wonder: The sponsor of the talk was GlaxoSmithKline PLC, maker of the best-selling migraine pill Imitrex. Glaxo picked up the tab for dinner, paid Dr. Newman a fee, supplied some of his slides, and scattered Imitrex notepads on the table.

Drug makers have seized upon an effective tool for getting their message across to doctors: other doctors.

--read entire article via above link--

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Building Better Buyers

From BusinessFirst:

Building better buyers

More workers are being pushed into high-deductible health plans, but some find it tough to be smart medical consumers

Jeff Bell

Business First

Angie Booth-Peters says Quandel Group Inc. has seen the light with health insurance and it's shining on high-deductible medical plans with tax advantages for employees.

"With the rising cost of health care, you need to put things in the hands of consumers and have them make more health-care choices for themselves," said the human resources director for Quandel's offices in Columbus and Cincinnati.

Zapped by annual premium increases of 20 percent or more in recent years, executives at the construction management company decided to offer a high-deductible plan with a health-savings account to its 60 Ohio employees in January.

The plan allows employees to put pre-tax dollars in an HSA to pay annual deductibles ranging from $2,200 for family coverage to $1,100 for an individual plan. If their health holds up, employees can roll over their HSA contribution year to year to build a rainy- day fund for future medical claims. They can also take the account with them if they change jobs. If they use up the deductible, traditional health-insurance coverage kicks in.

Quandel workers have a choice of the HSA or a traditional preferred provider organization plan. The HSA, however, will become the only option in 2006.

"It's definitely where everybody is going," Booth-Peters said.

Health-insurance industry experts see it that way, too, even though critics of high-deductible plans claim they merely shift costs that fail to address the root causes of skyrocketing health-care costs.

Small-business appeal

In spite of the criticisms, more businesses are offering high-deductible plans, said a study published in May by America's Health Insurance Plans. The trade group for domestic health insurers found high-deductible plans with an HSA now cover more than 1 million Americans, up from 438,000 last September.

Interest in the plans has caught fire since January as employers and workers became more familiar with federal tax treatment on HSAs that took effect in 2004, said Stevan Garcia, chief executive for UnitedHealthcare in Central Ohio.

"We've seen an uptick across the board," he said, "and for the right reasons. If you don't feel the impact of (medical) costs as a consumer, you may not be engaged in managing those costs."

Garcia said consumer-driven health plans aren't a cure-all for rising health-care costs. He thinks his industry needs to keep pushing for evidence-based medicine and lower costs from care providers, along with disease management and wellness programs for health-plan members.

UnitedHealthcare has 970,000 members in consumer-driven health plans nationally, he said. That represents about 4 percent of it 22 million members. The company embraces the plan model so strongly, Garcia said, that it is the only one offered to the 38,000 people employed by UnitedHealth Group, which is UnitedHealthcare's Minnesota-based parent company.

Employers offering the plans through UnitedHealthcare are experiencing savings on premiums from 25 percent to 40 percent, Garcia said. That is especially important to small businesses in the two- to 50-employee range that have been struggling to offer any sort of coverage because of double-digit premium increases in recent years.

Garcia said a 2004 UnitedHealthcare survey found 27 percent of small-business employees enrolled in high-deductible plans were previously uninsured.

Anthem Inc. also is seeing more small businesses shifting to high-deductible plans, said Kevin Hinkle, director of sales in the Columbus office of the Indianapolis-base health insurer. Of the 589 employer groups in Ohio that offer the plans through Anthem, 526 are businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Such coverage is especially appealing to business owners with 10 or fewer workers, he said.

"Those are companies that are just trying to keep their lights on at the end of the day," he said.

Employers generally aren't interested in taking the high-deductible route, Hinkle said, unless the premium savings are at the double-digit level.

Effect on costs

Hinkle and Garcia said they are seeing more companies, large and small, move toward making high-deductible plans with an HSA the only choice for employees.

The growing acceptance of high-deductible plans is troubling to Cathy Levine, executive director of the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio, an advocacy organization for those lacking adequate health care coverage.

Levine thinks high-deductible plans with an HSA work best for the "healthy and wealthy" but not for those at lower income levels or with chronic health conditions that require regular spending on prescription drugs and doctors.

"If you pull the healthy and wealthy people out of the big insurance pool," she said, "the cost of buying coverage for people with chronic health conditions will go even higher. I see HSA plans worsening the cost crisis in health care."

Levine also said lower-income workers are less likely to be able to afford the higher out-of-pocket expenses that come with high-deductible plans. That could push more people into medical bankruptcy, she said.

To avoid such a fate, workers will make health-care choices based on what they can afford instead of what their doctor think they need, Levine said.

"Consumer-driven health plans turn consumers into second-guessers of their doctors," she said.

High-deductible plans also drew fire in a study published this year by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based foundation that supports research on health and social issues. It found 38 percent of adults in high-deductible plans reported at least one of four cost-related problems: They are not filling a prescription, not getting needed specialist care, skipping a doctor-recommended test or follow-up visit, and not visiting a doctor or clinic when they have a health problem.

By contrast, 21 percent of adults with no deductible reported one of the four access problems.

The study also said 44 percent of those with annual incomes below $35,000 and a deductible of $500 or more would experience at least one of the access problems. That compares to 21 percent of higher-income adults with deductibles under $500.

Better decisions

Those issues aside, some employers appear to be pleased with how high-deductible plans are working for their companies, says a survey published this spring by Segal Co., a New York-based benefits, compensation and human resources consulting firm.

At least half of the employers in the survey reported their overall medical and prescription drug costs had fallen since they introduced high-deductible coverage. Only 6 percent of the employers said the plans had not been successful.

Yet a substantial majority of the employers said their workers don't have detailed information about physician and hospital costs and quality of care to make cost-effective health-care decisions.

"The (usefulness) of information will determine how effective the plan is and how well it encourages people to use it," said Werner Gliebe, a senior health consultant with Segal who has clients in Central Ohio.

"I don't think the bulk of the population is there yet," he said. "It's certainly a gradual learning process, but people already seem to be making those kinds of choices more effectively on drug purchases as opposed to medical services, which are more complex."

UnitedHealthcare's Garcia said a study the company completed in 2004 found an 8 percent increase in the use of preventative care by high-deductible health plan members. It also saw a 19 percent reduction in emergency room visits by those health plan members, with 43 percent saying they are now more likely to call the insurer's nurse line for preliminary medical advice instead of going to the ER.

© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc.

Uploading Better Health Care

From the Wall Street Journal online:

Uploading Better Health Care

June 21, 2005; Page B6

Turning the notion of second opinions on its head, patients today often arrive at doctors' offices already armed with Internet-gleaned self-diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Similarly, health-care practitioners and administrators routinely use the Internet to significantly enhance treatment of patients, improve productivity and become more efficient. Add to this unprecedented evolution in lifesaving drugs, new medical practices and preventive care, and it's clear that we are witnessing a transformation in American health care and wellness.

Yet, despite the United States' global pre-eminence in health-care science, the actual delivery and management of health services often is inefficient, outdated and disconnected at its roots. Health-care costs to patients and providers continue to skyrocket, while the quality of care remains weighted down by medical and administrative errors, duplication, and often antiquated management practices.

Information technology can and must serve as the primary catalyst for dramatic change. First, however, public and private organizations must begin to work in partnership, embracing approaches in which health-care services can be more effectively delivered and managed.

Fortunately, our policy makers are headed in the right direction. Sen. Bill Frist (R., Tenn.) and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.) have come together to introduce a bill that would enhance the development, implementation and widespread use of information technology in health care. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt recently announced a public-private initiative to achieve interoperability among health-care systems and providers and to speed the transition to accessible and secure electronic health records.

Essential components of both measures include the establishment of common data standards and the development of safeguards to provide patients with high levels of confidence that their privacy and information will remain protected. Carried out collectively and in the right way, these efforts will redefine traditional health-care relationships to benefit consumers and providers.

Examples can already be found in pilot programs that provide direct communication between patients, providers and administrators. From drug interaction reporting and use of evidence-based medicine to offsite medical consultations and electronic transmission of health records, greenfields of opportunity exist.

The successful application of information technology in other industries offers an important lesson: First and foremost, transformation must be customer-focused and collaborative. Whether between patients and doctors or health-care facilities and insurers, trust and open dialogue must serve as the foundation for a more innovative, more effective health-care system.

To advance a national agenda to modernize and make America's health-care system more efficient, five key principles, borrowed from industries where information technology has provided tremendous benefit, should be used to guide our collective efforts:

Stay close to the customer. Communicate directly, clearly and frequently with the universe of customers to explain the use and benefits of health information technology. Incorporate privacy and security of personal health information as centerpieces in the design and development of all IT services.

Customize the experience. Work with patients and providers to make it easy to input, retrieve and protect information. Develop ways in which patients and providers can contribute to the health-care process and management.

Embrace government as a partner. Recognize the significant role that government at all levels plays in assuring that health information technology allows for the reliable, secure exchange of data across locations and between technologies, practitioners and patients.

Drive down costs with continual improvement. Highlight the potential for cost-savings through information technology by minimizing time constraints and errors caused by excessive paperwork and administrative requirements.

Deliver standard technologies. Develop common terminology, interoperability and simple processes to ensure accuracy of electronic information. Incorporate privacy and security policies that fully protect individual health records at rest and in transit.

Guiding principles are critical, but real progress toward meaningful innovation in improving America's health-care system will require great tenacity and open dialogue. It is an effort that must be guided by a united vision -- one of better health care, better choices, and, ultimately, a better country.

Mr. Rollins is CEO of Dell Inc. and a member of the Computer Systems Policy Project, an 11-member coalition of technology CEOs focused on public-policy issues.

Copyright 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

New kind of clinic offers quick treatment for simple illnesses

Deseret Morning News, Friday, June 24, 2005

New kind of clinic offers quick treatment for simple illnesses

By Martiga Lohn
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — When Ann Theisen's 6-year-old daughter, Hannah, had a sore throat, she didn't take the little girl to the family doctor.

Instead, she went to the Cub Foods store down the street from her house, lured by the prospect of faster treatment at a MinuteClinic tucked into a corner of the supermarket. Within about 15 minutes — no appointment necessary — they were seen and had the results of a rapid strep test: negative.

"It's the convenience factor," Theisen said.

MinuteClinic, based in Minneapolis, is on the leading edge of a new kind of clinic that offers swift treatment for simple illnesses.

MinuteClinic operates in 22 locations in the Twin Cities and Baltimore, most of them in Target, Cub Foods and CVS Pharmacy stores. The company has big plans to open more than 80 clinics in 12 major metropolitan areas east of the Rockies by year's end, and to push westward next year.

"The demand for this is so amazingly consistent," said chief executive Michael Howe, the former Arby's head who joined the company earlier this month. "It's really something we've all been looking for — making health care a little more convenient and affordable for everyone."

At the quick-service clinics, nurse practitioners diagnose and treat strep throat, pink eye, bronchitis and other common ailments. Howe and other MinuteClinic executives say their business is to health care what ATMs are to banks — making ordinary transactions easier while freeing up traditional providers for more complicated cases.

It is a low-tech, low-cost innovation that could catch on, said Matt Eyring of Innosight, a consulting company that tracks health care trends. The average MinuteClinic visit does not require an appointment and costs the patient less than $50, Howe said. The cost can be shaved down to the same co-payment as a doctor visit under several major health insurance plans.

"This is something that makes medicine much more available to consumers," Eyring said. "This kind of service will spread."

MinuteClinic was founded five years ago. Its competitors include MediMin, which operates in the Cleveland area, FastCare in Louisville, Ky., and QuickClinic in Akron, Ohio.

Howe would not disclose MinuteClinic's annual sales or profit. Each clinic treats an average of 30 to 35 patients a day, he said.

More than three-quarters of those who visit the clinics have health insurance. Major plans — including Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealth Group and Medicare — include MinuteClinics in their networks in the Twin Cities.

Some employers have lowered insurance co-payments for MinuteClinic visits because they cost less than traditional doctor visits, Howe said. And some companies — including Best Buy, Carlson Cos. and Guidant Corp. — host MinuteClinic operations at their corporate locations in the Twin Cities.

The American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association are wary of the trend. What is best for patients, they say, is an ongoing relationship with a doctor.

"We don't want to see nursing care substituted for physician care," said Dr. Edward Hill, president-elect of the AMA. "This type of clinic might not lend itself very well for continuity."

But Mai Pham, a senior researcher at the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change, said the clinics could provide a better alternative for patients who might otherwise go to an emergency room for care or skip it altogether.

"It's clearly meeting a market need, but there's also concerns about why it is there is such a need," Pham said.

Howe said MinuteClinics limit their work to common illnesses and are quick to send patients to emergency rooms or back to their primary doctors if other symptoms turn up. The clinics also pass records on to patients' doctors and help those who do not have a physician find one.

Strep tests are the most common procedure performed at the clinics.

That's what Theisen, a nurse who lives in the Minneapolis surburb of Maple Grove, wanted for her daughter in a hurry. "If we would have gone to our doctor, it would take an hour longer," she said.

The trip to the MinuteClinic cost Theisen an insurance co-payment — the same amount she would have paid to see their regular doctor.

"I grocery-shopped while I was waiting," she said.

On the Net: MinuteClinic:




Health Spending Soars for Obesity

"Health spending soars for obesity
By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY

Private health insurance spending on illnesses related to obesity has increased more than tenfold since 1987, according to the first research to quantify the trend.

The growth in obesity has fueled a dramatic increase in the amount spent treating diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and other weight-related illnesses, says the study, which is published today in Health Affairs, an online journal of health policy and research.

Overall, employers and privately insured families spent $36.5 billion on obesity-linked illnesses in 2002, up from an inflation-adjusted $3.6 billion in 1987. That's up from 2% of total health care spending on obesity in 1987 to 11.6% in 2002, the latest year for which data are available.

On average, treating an obese person cost $1,244 more in 2002 than treating a healthy-weight person did. In 1987, the gap was $272.

And the obesity problem is "only going to get worse," says lead author Kenneth Thorpe, chairman of the department of health policy and management at Emory University in Atlanta. "The costs are up because so many more Americans are obese and because they're being more aggressively treated for weight-related illnesses."

About 31% of U.S. adults are obese — 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight. That's up from 23% in the late 1980s and 15% in the late 1970s.

The study comes as businesses, the government and consumers are struggling with soaring health care costs. "Most of what is going on now to try to control health care spending is missing the target," Thorpe says. "Companies are tweaking co-pays and talking about health care savings accounts when really they need to redirect their focus to reduce the prevalence of obesity among children and workers."

Thorpe and his colleagues analyzed national surveys of about 14,000 people from 1987 and 2002. The data included health care spending, medical conditions and trips to the doctor, hospital and pharmacy. Findings:

•The percentage of obese people being treated for high cholesterol, mental disorders and upper gastrointestinal disorders increased 10 percentage points.

•The increase in adult-onset diabetes contributed to a 64% rise in diabetes treatment from 1987 to 2002.

•About 25% of the extremely obese (80 or more pounds overweight) were being treated for six or more conditions in 2002, compared with 14% in 1987.

Thorpe's findings add to growing evidence that extra pounds increase medical costs. A study last year by RTI International in Raleigh, N.C., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that obese and overweight Americans racked up about $75 billion in weight-related medical bills in 2003. Because much of this is covered by Medicare and Medicaid, taxpayers pay about half the total, the study found."

Awareness is the best preventative medicine. Obesity is, forgive the metaphor, the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge these days. The fact is that it is more expensive to insure an overweight person, because they are more prone to long-term illness than someone within normal weight limits.

Not only that, but businesses like Southwest Airlines have realized the drain in revenue that overweight patrons present to their organization.

One thing Consumer Driven Health Care is about is solving problems at the root. Yes, there is some worth to be found in making health care more accessible to people who are overweight. However, there is more to be gained by preventing obesity in the first place. This is one reason that Roger Blackwell Associates, Inc. is looking to work together with state and local legislature. In the hands of standing members of public health committees, CDHC can help to create a network of healthy corporate employees that go home to educate their children about the value of a healthy diet and good exercise routine.

Many Immigrants Choosing Herbal Remedies

"Faced with skyrocketing health care costs, lack of insurance and language barriers, many immigrants believe they are better off with homegrown remedies from their native cultures than conventional treatments."

This might seem like nonsense, given the stigma surrounding the term household remedy, but we are beginning to see a new mainstream attitude toward these simple solutions to common illnesses. In Consumer Driven Health Care, Dr. Blackwell and Dr. Williams explain a somewhat novel idea for making the US health care system more cost-effective and accessible for all classes: research these so-called household remedies and test their medical mettle.

If you think about it, it makes good (and economical) sense. First, it reinforces the alternative medical treatments by separating those that work and those whose worth can't be proven. Moreover, it raises mainstream awareness of those practices that have legitimate medical value and encourages household remedies to be the first line of defense against illness. This saves the time and money it takes to find and visit a doctor, find a pharmacy and fill a prescription and complete and file an insurance claim.

We're on the verge of acceptance, but that's a double-edged sword. It isn't simply a matter of getting people to use household remedies. We have to invest the time and resources to research and validate their legitimacy and educate the public regarding the harmful effects of certain ingredients.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Purchasing info

Get the book online from AtlasBooks by visiting the link above. You may also purchase a copy (or several copies, depending upon your mood) online from, Wal-Mart and Barnes and Noble.

Consumer Driven Health Care

Health care now drains $1.7 trillion or 15.3% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 50% more than other industrialized nations.

Each year, employers pay an average $7,000 per worker for health insurance ($10,000 for workers with family coverage), and premiums are increasing at five times the general rate of inflation. To cope, employers are turning to overtime, offshore outsourcing, and increased automation—especially for lower-paid positions. Unless health care costs are reduced, jobs will continue to disappear from the U.S. economy.

Meanwhile, personal health continues to deteriorate due to sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy diets, and poor personal choices. In contrast to the 20-plus year gain in longevity expectancy experienced during the last century, today’s youth could very well be the first generation in America’s history who do not live as long as their parents. Currently 62% of Americans are overweight and 32% are obese. If current trends continue, by 2030, 100% of all Americans could be obese and their health care costs will be greater than the entire U.S. economy!

And as America’s baby boomers head into the ages of greatest medical expense, alarms are sounding over the future of Medicare and Social Security, states are grappling with skyrocketing Medicaid expenditures, employers are reducing health care benefits, there is a shortage of nurses, physicians and other qualified personnel, malpractice and fraud is diverting vital resources from patient care, and 45 million Americans are uninsured.

So, what is happening and what can be done about it?

In Consumer Driven Health Care, Dr. Roger Blackwell, the "guru on global business" (New York Times), and Dr. Tom Williams, distinguished cardiothoracic surgeon, expose readers to a provocative, yet engaging analysis of America's health care funding crisis and offer solutions to reverse the trends and lower health care costs to a level that makes health care affordable and American firms competitive yet again.