Notice to Medicare observation patients misses the mark

If you’re one of the roughly 2 million Medicare beneficiaries placed under observation each year, there’s (potentially) good news for you: You may be less vulnerable to sticker shock when you get your medical bill. But Medicare hasn’t gotten the details right just yet. In less than two months, the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility (NOTICE) Act will require hospitals nationwide to notify Medicare observation patients that they are not formally admitted as inpatients and why. …

How HIPAA Can Maintain Privacy, Enable Exchange of Electronic Health Records and Improve Patient Care at the Same Time

Nearly all hospitals and three-fourths of all doctors have gone digital, replacing paper medical records with electronic ones. For consumers, this should have meant that complete and up-to-date medical files seamlessly flow between physicians and follow patients from one doctor to the next. In reality, many health care providers don’t exchange electronic health data, in part because they misinterpret the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rules as saying that it’s illegal. Some may also be playing …

Examining the Evidence: Do Drugs Like Nexium Increase Your Risk of Dementia?

A recent study linked some popular drugs used to treat heartburn and peptic ulcers to an increased risk of dementia.  While the study findings are concerning, consumers should be mindful that media reports do not necessarily present the full picture. Here is a breakdown of what the study actually shows: The Study Researchers wanted to know if proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), drugs commonly used to treat heartburn and peptic ulcers, were associated with dementia among older adults. Better known by …

A Tax Hike Is Looming for Some Seniors in 2017. Here’s How Congress Can Stop It

It may not seem like it for many Americans, but recent health care spending in the United States has been growing at historically low levels. Between 2000 and 2007, per capita health spending grew at an average annual rate of 7.55 percent. Then we saw a steep decline between 2008 and 2014, when the rate dropped to an average 3.2 percent per year. Many Americans, however, may be scratching their heads because they notice the effect health care costs have …

Removing Barriers to Exchanging Electronic Health Records Would Help Consumers

  Over the past five years, taxpayers have doled out over $30 billion in bonus payments to push hospitals and doctors’ offices to switch from paper to electronic medical records. Now nearly all hospitals and over half of all office-based doctors have gone digital; but much of that electronic information doesn’t flow freely between health care providers because their separate software systems do not communicate — and consumers are losing out. Consumers win when electronic health records (EHR) systems talk …

Covering Low-Income Midlife Adults Through Medicaid: Making Progress, but More States Need to Take the Plunge

The Affordable Care Act — as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court — gives states the option to expand Medicaid. Access to Medicaid significantly reduces the number of uninsured in this country. Since the expansion began, millions of individuals are receiving coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Yet, 19 states have not expanded Medicaid coverage, potentially leaving almost 2 million low-income midlife adults (ages 45-64) without access to insurance coverage. Being uninsured is especially hard on adults …