Medicare Could Save Big by Steering Ambulances Away From Hospitals

Medicare could save $560 million or more a year simply by allowing some patients who call 911 for an ambulance to be taken somewhere other than a hospital emergency room. What’s more, the study found, private insurers could save twice that amount by following suit. That’s the conclusion of a new study in Health Affairs, which found that more than a third of Medicare patients who called 911 had a “low-acuity diagnosis” that could have been managed outside the hospital emergency …

Is There Comedy in Geriatric Care? Yes, on HBO

Getting On, HBO’s off-kilter new comedy series, is about nurses and doctors working in a female geriatric care unit at a California hospital – not exactly the sort of setting that would seem to inspire humor. Still, the show has genuinely funny moments, even while it remains realistic about its environment. It’s a delicate balancing act, though. Take the first moments of the show’s premiere, which airs Sunday night at 10 on the pay cable network: brand-new nurse Didi (Niecy …

COPD Trouble Along the Way

So we’re rolling back from Oregon over a Siskiyou Mountain pass into California on a day as bright as heaven, with only small wisps of fog and a few stringy clouds to intrude on a scene that is otherwise right out of a Magritte painting. The pass rises to over 4,000 feet and as we come down toward Yreka, heading home to L.A. after a two-week road trip. I notice a funny feeling in my chest. My breathing has become …

What Put the Brakes on Medicare Spending?

The Holy Grail in battles over the federal budget has been how to slow down the runaway train of health care spending. So it surely comes as good news that spending on traditional Medicare has slowed substantially, as a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study shows, and not just because of the broader economic slowdown. For 25 years, spending on traditional Medicare rose, on average, 8 percent a year. Then, from 2007 to 2012, the increase slowed to an average annual …

Find Out Whether Your Hospital Has Too Many Readmissions

Is your hospital’s revolving door turning too quickly? Each year, more than a million Americans wind up back in the hospital within 30 days after leaving for reasons that could have been prevented. That includes one in five Medicare hospital patients. Medicare has begun penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates for patients being treated for heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia – new categories will be added in the future – and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) …

A Caregiver’s Hospital Survival Kit: 20 Must-Have Items

In the past year, I’ve spent close to 40 overnights in the hospital with my parents, plus roughly 10 emergency room visits with them. I dislike going to hospitals … a lot. I think I’ve developed some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder around hospital visits. I find that I am great in the moment and deal with crises easily, but afterwards I am exhausted and when the time comes to venture off to the hospital again I tense up, feel a sense of …