Nearly 49 million Americans have no health insurance. Health care represents roughly $2.6 trillion or 18% of the nation’s budget, and costs continue to rise. People with pre-existing conditions can be denied coverage or be forced to buy expensive plans. The Medicare trust fund is expected to be unable to pay 100% of hospital insurance costs by 2024.
For these reasons and others, most policy makers agree that the health care system needs to be changed.
The health reform law passed in 2010, also...
Question: What are some ways to know you've joined a cheap HMO? Answer: To avoid a time-consuming throat culture, the doctor French kisses you.
And by now many web-browsing patients and doctors have seen the widely circulated memo by a fictitious squinty-eyed claims administrator offering a cost-effectiveness analysis of a famous unfinished Schubert symphony: "If all redundant passages were eliminated, as determined by the utilization review committee, the concert would have been reduced to about 20 minutes, resulting in substantial savings in salaries and overhead. In fact, if Schubert had addressed these concerns on a cost-containment basis, he probably would have been able to finish his symphony."
The jokes attest to a pervasive anxiety about the transformations of American medical care in the last 20 years. And they speak to the widespread belief -- disseminated as conventional wisdom -- that managed care has drastically reduced the amount of time a physician can spend with a patient.
But now national survey data have turned up a startling finding: The average duration of physician office visits actually increased between 1989 and 1998.
"It is important for patients to understand that the rhetoric about managed care is not necessarily true," lead author David Mechanic, PhD, director of the Institute on Health, Healthcare Policy, and Aging Research at Rutgers University, tells WebMD. "They have to evaluate their care on the basis of their own experience and on good data that is increasingly available."
Using information from two nationally representative data banks, Mechanic found that the average duration of a physician office visit increased between one and two minutes from 1989 to 1998. The length of office visits increased for patients in both prepaid HMOs and non-prepaid managed care plans, according to the report, published in the Jan. 18 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.