When Is ‘No Treatment’ the Best Treatment?

The swift, lethal nature of brain cancer — and the terrible decisions it forces families to face — has been in the news recently, with three of its victims forcing us to think about choices we hope we never have to make. There was, of course, the well-publicized death of Brittany Maynard, 29, diagnosed with the most common and deadly form of brain cancer — glioblastoma. Doctors don’t know what causes these insidious growths, according to the National Brain Tumor …

Medicare Overpays $6.7 Billion for Patient Evaluation Services

Medicare spent $6.7 billion too much in 2010 by “inappropriately” paying claims from physicians who had submitted the wrong billing codes or no documentation at all for certain services, according to a new report from the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Although that amount was a small fraction of Medicare’s total spending of more than $525 billion in 2010, it still added up to 21 percent of what Medicare paid for all “evaluation …

Groundhog Day for Medicare ‘Doc Fix’

Another year, another last-minute “doc fix” by Congress. Am I the only one starting to feel a little like Bill Murray in the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day? On March 31, just one day before Medicare payments to doctors would have been slashed by 24 percent, Congress approved a short-term patch to delay the payment cuts for another year. This is the 17th time in 11 years that Congress has had to delay the Medicare reimbursement cuts created by SGR (the …

Medicare Database Reveals Top-Paid Doctors

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Serdar Tumgoren, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) – Medicare paid a tiny group of doctors $3 million or more apiece in 2012. One got nearly $21 million. Those are among the findings of an Associated Press analysis of physician data released Wednesday by the Obama administration, part of a move to open the books on health care financing. Topping Medicare’s list was Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, whose relationship with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), made headlines last year …

Looking for a Medicare Doctor? New Ratings Can Help

Medicare patients have new help in picking a doctor, the federal government recently announced. Quality ratings for medical practices have been added to Medicare’s Physician Compare website, a national list of physicians and other health care providers who accept Medicare. “Patients and their families need facts to help them in making important decisions about health care, and choosing the right physician is one of the most important decisions they face,” says Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare …

10 Least Expensive Insurance Markets

By Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News Staff Writer, produced in collaboration with NPR People in much of Minnesota, northwestern Pennsylvania and Tucson, Ariz., are getting the best bargains from the health care law’s new insurance marketplaces: premiums half the price or less than what insurers in the country’s most expensive places are charging. The 10 regions with the lowest premiums in the nation also include Salt Lake City, all of Hawaii and eastern Tennessee. This ranking is based on the …