It is well known that Obamacare has resulted in accelerated increases in health costs. An interesting recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled “The Deception Behind Those In-Network Health ‘Discounts” explains how a little known provision of Obamacare incentivizes insurers to raise costs even more. The essential problem is easy to understand. It is simply that insurers make ever more money when health costs rise because they just pass the increased costs on to their enrolled insures, and keep a percentage of the premiums that these clients-patients pay. The higher the costs the more the insurance companies keep.
Health Care News
I reported in a recent post how new published controlled scientific studies from Europe had validated the beneficial effects of warm mineral baths for arthritis pain. The effects appear to be a result of both the warm water and the minerals in it.
My mentor at Harvard/Mass General Hospital, Bert Zarins MD told me to always beware of “the triumph of technology over reason”. Skill and diligence on the part of health care providers is the most important element in quality care; and one of the problems with health care currently is money being spent on items that do not improve health. Now it appears that surgical robots may be part of that equation. A study from South Korea has shown that robotic surgery “was associated with prolonged operating time and higher hospital costs compared with laparoscopic surgery” for patients undergoing radical nephrectomy (kidney removal) for a renal mass with no benefit to the patient for that extra time spent in surgery. The adoption of new, and potentially unproven, technology is used as a marketing tool, because new technology, like new buildings, has commercial appeal to consumers. I am constantly approached by well meaning industry representatives appropriately doing their job to tell me about new technology from their company. However, it is important that I also do my job and not adopt them unless there is evidence that newer is really better. But, unfortunately, as more and more doctors are employed by hospitals, doctors have less and less say about what is offered to their patients, since hospitals often dictate how their employed doctors provide care. The physicians in South Korea are to be commended for providing important evidence that this costly technology is not better, at least in this instance.
Chelation therapy is a process of removing heavy metals such as lead and cadmium from blood as a means to prevent heart attacks. It is an old treatment that was felt to be quackery when I learned about it as a medical student at Johns Hopkins many years ago. But now there is convincing evidence that it can dramatically reduce the incidence of heart attacks without the use of toxic drugs. Cardiologist GA Lamas in Miami, originally a skeptic of the technique has performed studies showing marked reduction in heart attacks incidence with this technique – and new larger studies are underway. At a time when large percentages of patients refuse to take statin drugs for heart disease, and other pharmaceuticals, because of onerous side effects, alternative safe and effective treatments like this are becoming increasingly popular.
The secret to fighting cancers, as well as autoimmune disorders such as MS, ALS and rheumatoid arthritis, lie within each of us in our immune systems. Now this potential is being unlocked in an increasing number of patients. For cancer, the treatment involves removing immune system cells from our body, treating them to recognize the tumor, multiplying them, and then returning them to the body to seek and destroy the cancer cells. Recent articles in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere have described how the National Cancer Institute’s Dr Steven Rosenberger Institute has treated a patient with metastatic breast cancer that had resisted all other treatments , and was expected to be fatal, who is now cancer free for more than a year after this treatment.