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Why ‘wellness’ program scams cost employers and harm employees

This is a headline in an LA Times article written by Michael Hiltzik and is yet another major mainstream media hit on corporate-sponsored wellness. He writes, “Perhaps the most popular fad at large today in the employee health benefit world is the ‘wellness’ program.”   Doubts about the efficacy

Think twice before choosing knee replacement

The NYT published a terrific article by that title by Gretchen Reynolds. In that article, she explains that knee replacement surgery is becoming more and more common in the US. “But“, she writes, “some new studies suggest that people may be electing to have the procedure prematurely

Workplace wellness produces no savings

That’s the title of a new article in the Health Affairs Blog. “Through a review of the research literature and primary sources, we have found that wellness programs produce a return-on-investment (ROI) of less than 1-to-1 savings to cost.” Workplace wellness was a noble venture, but, alas,

FDA warns gynecologic device has spread cancer

This is the headline in a scary USA Today article by Karen Weintraub about a device that has actually spread cancer in women. Says the article, “In the last year, two-dozen women have reported that their cancer was made worse by the device, called a power morcellator,

Shame: visitor to US gets nightmarish bill for early delivery

According to a story in Yahoo news, a Canadian woman vacationing in America had an early baby delivery.  She got a bill for nearly one million dollars. Yes, nearly one million dollars. “The family is currently considering filing for bankruptcy”. This is an example of predatory

Why ‘wellness’ program scams cost employers and harm employees

This is a headline in an LA Times article written by Michael Hiltzik and is yet another major mainstream media hit on corporate-sponsored wellness.

He writes, “Perhaps the most popular fad at large today in the employee health benefit world is the ‘wellness’ program.”  

Doubts about the efficacy of wellness are popping up left and right. “Now there’s more evidence that the programs don’t save companies money….”

Writes Hiltzik,  “Despite these emerging data, the Kaiser Family Foundation has calculated that more than half of all companies with more than 200 workers offer health screening programs; 8% of those offer an incentive to participate or a penalty for refusing.” Wellness can even backfire and harm employees through false positives, etc.

Corporate sponsors of wellness had the noblest of intentions. However, now it’s high time for corporations to take a good hard steely-eyed look at their wellness programs.

This is my mea culpa: in my career in managing benefits for large companies, i implemented programs that looked promising but didn’t work.When the facts showed they didn’t work I simply stopped them. The only thing worse than implementing a flawed program, is keeping it around when the facts show it is a failure.

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Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

 

Think twice before choosing knee replacement

The NYT published a terrific article by that title by Gretchen Reynolds.

In that article, she explains that knee replacement surgery is becoming more and more common in the US. “But“, she writes, “some new studies suggest that people may be electing to have the procedure prematurely and, perhaps worse, gaining limited benefit from it.

Further, “Researchers then analyzed the data from a large study of almost 200 men and women with aching, arthritic knees who went on to have replacement surgery within five years of entering the study. It turned out that approximately a third of the subjects would not have been regarded as appropriate candidates by the researchers.” (emphasis mine.)

In my experience with ethical centers of excellence, the type of clinics with which EdisonHealth contracts, we see about the same thing.  About one-third actually need the surgery. Alas.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

 

 

 

Workplace wellness produces no savings

That’s the title of a new article in the Health Affairs Blog.

“Through a review of the research literature and primary sources, we have found that wellness programs produce a return-on-investment (ROI) of less than 1-to-1 savings to cost.”

Workplace wellness was a noble venture, but, alas, more and more hard data are piling up to support this headline. When choosing between hard data and wishful thinking, data ought to trump.

For further reading click here.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

 

 

FDA warns gynecologic device has spread cancer

This is the headline in a scary USA Today article by Karen Weintraub about a device that has actually spread cancer in women.

Says the article, “In the last year, two-dozen women have reported that their cancer was made worse by the device, called a power morcellator, which turned a treatable condition into a life-threatening disease.”  

The device is used to remove fibroids in women through a small incision. That sound nice except for the fact that it is killing women.

“Carefully choosing and informing women about the risks of the surgery will provide appropriate protection” says Dr. Hal Lawrence of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Really, Hal? So your going to tell a women you can use this handy procedure but that it may give them deadly cancer? Oy.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

Shame: visitor to US gets nightmarish bill for early delivery

According to a story in Yahoo news, a Canadian woman vacationing in America had an early baby delivery.  She got a bill for nearly one million dollars. Yes, nearly one million dollars.

“The family is currently considering filing for bankruptcy”.

This is an example of predatory pricing. Shame on US hospitals for preying on unwary foreign visitors.

Please warn your international friends not to visit the US if they are pregnant. They may end up in total financial ruin.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

 

 

It’s all about referrals

There is a big problem with referrals in US healthcare. Here are some examples.

First, according to an article in Becker’s Hospital Review about 20 million patent referrals are misdirected. This means about 20 million patients a year are referred to the wrong specialist. This results in expensive re-referrals or, worse, mismanagement of patients care.

Second, as readers of Cracking Health Costs know, huge differences exist in specialists’ ability to get complex diagnoses right and prescribe the best treatment plan. Primary care doctors often just don’t have enough referral cases in any given specialty to see the differences. A referral to a specialist who over-treats and over-tests can cost tens of thousand of dollars.

It’s all about referrals.

 

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

 

Doctors Cash In on Drug Tests Part 2

M.B. Bell and Sharon Begley* wrote a great piece on this for Reuters.

They wrote, “Three Connecticut doctors billed Medicare for nearly 24,000 drug tests in 2012 – on just 145 patients. Despite the extraordinary number, Medicare administrators paid the doctors a total of $1.4 million, according to a Reuters analysis of government payments to health providers.”

You read it right…24,000 drug tests on just 145 patients. Imagine the stress on the patients, not to mention the cost to taxpayers.  Shame.

*Sharon Begley is one of the best writers on health topics today.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

Doctors Cash In on Drug Tests for Seniors, and Medicare Pays the Bill

That is the title of a WSJ story written by Christopher Weaver and Anna Wilde Matthews.  (Subscription required.)

According to the story, “Doctors are testing seniors for drugs such as heroin, cocaine and “angel dust” at soaring rates, and Medicare is paying the bill.”  The problem is seniors rarely use those drugs.

Further, “Medical guidelines encourage doctors who treat pain to test their patients, to make sure they are neither abusing pills nor failing to take them, possibly to sell them…Now, some pain doctors are making more from testing than from treating.”

Spending for this type of testing is up a whopping 1423% in five years.

This is yet another example of why health costs are so high in the US.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

Wise words by Bob Kramer, MD.

The following words first appeared in an email Dr. Kramer wrote. With his permission I’m quoting him below. I know Bob to be an ethical caring doctor.

“Wellness plans DON’T work, and the cost of healthcare is not due to the physicians laxity but in the patients’ reluctance to come to grips with their mortality. Hospitals and drug companies make all their profits by insuring that patients are needed to take their medicines and hospitals to keep their beds full. It has NEVER been shown that wellness plans do anything to reduce the overall cost of care.” (Emphasis mine.)

Here is an additional quote from him: “As a practioner, academic, administrator and businessman, watching medicine being morphed from a wonderful profession to a bottom line, Wall Street sensitive business has infuriated me to see the words revenue, economies of scale, and profits replace the most important aspect of health care…..quality. Our current system destroys every ounce of what we were trained and taught to do, let alone watch the cost of care go up as the quality go down for the sake of “improving efficiencies” destroys every bit of what I was taught that made the practice of medicine the wonderful profession that it used to be.”

Dr. Kramer is a retired professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, graduate of Brown University, Tufts Medical School, pediatric residency at Yale, exec MBA Harvard.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.

Surgery rates: US vs EU

According to an NBC news story, surgery rates per capita in the United States are 50% higher than the EU.

That is one of the reason healthcare costs in the US are twice that of the EU. Advocates of the status quo in US healthcare say they “ration” surgery in the EU. Alas, not true. One of the real reasons is the difference in the rate of over-surgery in the US, as regular readers of Cracking Health Costs know.

The antidote for excess surgery is direct contracted centers of excellence, e.g., EdisonHealth.

__________________________________________________________________________

Tom Emerick

Cracking Health Costs, the book, an Amazon best seller, is available on Amazon at a deeply discounted price. Click here: Cracking Health Costs: How to Cut Your Company’s Health Costs and Provide Employees Better Care by Tom Emerick and Al Lewis.

Tom Emerick is the President of Emerick Consulting and co-founder of EdisonHealth. In December 2012, Tom was listed in Forbes.com as one of 13 unsung heroes changing healthcare forever. In 2009, Tom was named by Healthspottr as one of the top 100 innovators in healthcare in the US for his work on medical ethics. Prior to consulting, Tom spent a number of years working for large corporations: Walmart Stores, Burger King, and British Petroleum.