How Medical Bills Can Easily Damage Our Credit Records

Elisabeth Rosenthal, who has been writing a series on the cost of health care in the U.S., wrote a piece in the Times Sunday Review this weekend looking at how chaotic medical billing can affect our credit.

Doctor Breaks His Neck, Appreciates the Work of Nurses More

Seeing this comment this morning in my post about our culture of being overworked reminded me of this piece I read last night in the New York Review of Books by Arnold Relman, a physician with six decades of experience who fell and broke his neck and saw a new perspective on what it's like to be critically ill and cared for under the U.S. medical system.

The High Cost of Breathing

Elizabeth Rosenthal's series in The New York Times on why the U.S. leads the world in health care expenditures has been really good—she's previously tackled colonoscopies, pregnancies, and joint replacements—and her fourth story is on prescription drugs, namely, asthma medication. The high costs are due to patents, which have prevented generics from competing in the market, and, yes, lobbying from pharmaceutical companies.

The ACA and Our Uteruses

Hey ladies, the ACA dropped today, have you heard, and Ann Friedman figured out what that means for your uterus and uteruses everywhere so you don’t have to. THANKS ANN!

The ACA’s Effect on the Labor Force is Currently Foggy

The Congressional Budget Office reported today that the Affordable Care Act will shrink the American workforce by 2.5 million by 2024, not as a result of employers shedding jobs but because more people will choose not to work or "work fewer hours than they might have otherwise to obtain employer-provided insurance."

Sickness, Death, and Money

My mom passed away when I was a junior in college, and she got sick when I was in high school. There were a lot of trips to doctors, many close calls at the ER, and many out-of-pocket medical expenses.

ACA Website Needs a Bandaid and a Lollipop

How signing up for Obamacare is going, reported by John Dickerson at Slate.

Improving Health Care in Memphis, Tenn.

In Salon, Alex Halperin reports on the "Memphis model," a health network partnership between hospitals and congregations in Memphis, Tenn.—one of the poorest metro areas in the U.S. and one of the "least healthy"—that has resulted in treating more people and saving hospitals millions in annual costs. Essentially, getting more people treated through the network has resulted in fewer expensive hospital stays for patients who avoid help until the last minute, and partnering with congregations has created a support network for patients to turn to before and after they receive treatment.

The Doctor Will See You in 18.5 Days

A survey of physician practices in 15 metropolitan areas across the country, which was taken before the health law expanded coverage, found that the average wait time for a new patient to see a physician in five medical specialties was 18.5 days. The longest waits were in Boston, where patients wait an average of 72 days to see a dermatologist and 66 days to see a family doctor. The shortest were in Dallas, where the average wait time is 10.2 days for all specialties, and just five days to see a family doctor.

“We have too few providers, which is creating a significant access problem,” says Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins in Texas, which conducted the survey. The health care and physician search consulting firm spoke with 1,399 medical offices between June and November 2013 in five different areas of specialization: cardiology, dermatology, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedic surgery and family practice. Researchers called the practices and asked for the first available appointments for new patients needing routine care, such as a heart check-up or a well-woman visit.

How long did it take you to set up an appointment to see a new physician? When I first moved to New York, an office told me it’d take seven weeks to fit me in. I ended up going to a college clinic that said they’d be able to see me in a few hours. Or maybe I could have flown to Texas.

Photo: Consumerist

Fox News on the Affordable Care Act, Two Ways

Kohn was able to find a better and cheaper plan on the health insurance exchange sites. Kohn's lesson: Try the exchange, and look at the options that are available to you—it might surprise you.

Earning Too Much for Medicaid But Not Enough for Health Exchange Subsidies

A story on the homepage of the Times this morning is looking at how millions of poor people will be unable to afford insurance in states that have declined to participate in the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

How Much Does an IV Bag of Saltwater Cost?

In May 2012, a food poisoning outbreak struck upstart New York, causing more than 100 people to seek hospital treatment. Times reporter Nina Bernstein attempted to figure out what individual patients were charged for an IV bag with sterile saltwater to replenish their lost fluids. You will be surprised to learn (or not surprised at all) that this proved to be much more difficult than expected because of our opaque system of pricing where the charges appear to be mysterious. One woman who paid $100 for her visit sums it up for a lot of patients: "Honestly, I don’t understand the system at all."