Healthcare Premiums? WHO WILL BEAR THE BRUNT OF THE COSTS?

Guest Link from Dr. CRISTIN A. DICKERSON, MD. Dr. Cristin A. Dickerson is the founding partner of Green Imaging. Her article about how the public will be sent the bill  for the Covid-19 pandemic is very revealing. To read it please follow this link:

WHO WILL BEAR THE BRUNT OF THE COSTS?

Written by Dr. Cristin Dickerson, MD

In The Global Covid-19 Pandemic Who Suffers Most?

In The Global Covid-19 Pandemic Who Suffers Most?

January 5, 2021 – In the midst of an ongoing and worsening global pandemic, there are those who are more likely to be sicker and die than others. This according to respected neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein, founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative. He told his regular podcast audience that the mortality rate from the Covid-19 infection was greater for patients with obesity, chronic lung disease, diabetes and hypertension and that the older a patient was, the greater the mortality.  “The Covid-19 pandemic teaches us that improving public health should be a priority in reforming healthcare,” Dr. Goldstein said. The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on Backtracks,SoundCloud, Libsyn, Listen Notes, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts and the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site.

When things are uncertain
Americans remain in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. What can we learn from it and how can this influence our thinking when it comes to personal lifestyle choices and healthcare reform?

Mayo Clinic Data

According to the Mayo Clinic web site, risk of severe Covid-19 is highest based on age; older people are at higher risk than those who are younger. Other conditions include type 2 diabetes, severe obesity and serious heart diseases. The site states, “obesity and diabetes both reduce the efficiency of a person’s immune system. Diabetes increases the risk of infections in general. The risk of infections, including COVID-19, can be reduced by keeping blood sugar levels controlled and continuing your diabetes medications and insulin.”

What Individuals Can Control

Dr. Goldstein said that people can take control of their own health by leading a healthier lifestyle. “By this I mean maintaining a modicum of physical fitness and being compliant with medical treatment if you have a chronic illness like diabetes and hypertension,” Dr. Goldstein told his audience. These and other voluntary measures like quitting smoking, moderating alcohol consumption and eating sensibly will help prevent an infection of Covid-19 or keep one from being more serious.

Freedom & Responsibility

Dr. Goldstein believes that in the New Year, the congress should find a balance of individual freedom, responsibility and monetary incentives for a better, national outcome. “People should have the freedom to adopt any lifestyle they wish as long as they do not interfere with anyone else. But, along with that freedom comes the responsibility to pay for it,” Dr. Goldstein said.   He mentioned how the government frequently uses its power to promote lifestyle choices. “For example, they impose high taxes on cigarettes to discourage tobacco use. But it does not outlaw the use of cigarettes. If anyone wants to lower their healthcare costs, they can adopt a healthier lifestyle.”

About the Houston Healthcare Initiative

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast with Dr. Steven Goldstein is an information vehicle for people who want to know all medical options for themselves and are interested in reforming the healthcare industry. To learn more about the Houston Healthcare Initiative please visit www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Photo Caption: Americans remain in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. What can we learn from it and how can this influence our thinking when it comes to personal lifestyle choices and healthcare reform?

What a New Administration May Mean for Healthcare Reform

Biden Healthcare Reform 2021
The incoming Biden administration will face a shrinking workforce and growing number of Medicare enrollees through 2028. 

In the New Year What a New Administration May Mean for Healthcare Reform

 December 2, 2020 – The incoming Biden administration could force mandates for private firms and their employees to provide for and buy health insurance. This according to Dr. Steven Goldstein on his regular podcast. The respected neurosurgeon and founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative discussed the possibilities for healthcare reform in the coming year on his regular podcast. The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on: on SoundCloudGoogle PlayLibsyn FeedStitcheriHeartRadioSpotify, and the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site.

Mandates Could Eliminate Opting Out

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care, made more choices for insurance available and penalized people who did not purchase health insurance. While not ideal, it was a way to get more people covered by private insurance than before. And it offered subsidies for people who could not afford insurance. But there was a downside.

The financial penalties were unpopular and made Obama Care an easy target for those who were against it. Without the specter of financial penalties, many employees chose to go without health insurance and keep the part of their pay that would normally go to help fund it. “One economic rationale for employer mandates is that the cost of care for these uninsured workers is often passed along to the insured through higher insurance premiums, taxes and other mechanisms,” Dr. Goldstein said. “Employer mandates are, in part, an attempt to eliminate those who opt out of available coverage. By adding more payers, health insurance is more affordable at the individual level. At least in theory.”

Do Less for More Or just Pay More

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, national health spending will grow at an average annual rate of 5.4 percent for the years 2019-28 and reach $6.2 trillion by 2028. Among major payers, Medicare is expected to experience the fastest spending growth of 7.6 percent per year from 2019-to 2028, largely as a result of the highest projected enrollment growth. “National health expenditures will grow 1.1 percentage points faster than the gross domestic product every year on average from now through 2028, said Dr. Goldstein. “The health share of the economy is projected to rise over a full percentage point by 2028. In other words, the costs are growing faster than the income. So, we have to do less of something or boost the gross national product.”

Make A Bad System Less Bad

If the current healthcare system remains unchanged, there will be less in the way of medical resources for the public. But according to Dr. Goldstein, that is unlikely. The overall insurance industry and its approach to paying for healthcare are very flawed in fundamental ways but unlikely to realize any dramatic reform.  Working around the edges to make a bad system work somewhat better is what he believes will happen. As Dr. Goldstein told his audience, “we can spend time and money to make a bad system work better and that is probably what will happen in the near term.”

Another Possibility, Pay Cash

According to Dr. Goldstein, cash payments are accepted for most if not all medical charges and prescription drugs. But that comes with a caveat for those who do have insurance, especially catastrophic health insurance. “Do not try to get the ‘insured’ rate to put against your deductible,” he counselled. “Paying cash is much less desirable when put against the insured rate, it will cost you more but not buy any more benefit.”

Most people with catastrophic coverage will never reach their deductible amount. Better to put that money directly into care, at a much-discounted price. This arrangement is the best value for people under the current system. So, while at the doctors’ office show them your insurance card but tell them you are paying cash.

About Houston Healthcare Initiative

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast with Dr. Steven Goldstein is an information vehicle for people who want to know all medical options for themselves and are interested in reforming the healthcare industry. To learn more about the Houston Healthcare Initiative please visit www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

For These Uncertain Times What Type of Health Insurance Is Best?

In wake of the election which insurance is best?
Three in ten uninsured adults in 2019 went without needed medical care due to cost. 

In wake of the 2020 election outcome…

For These Uncertain Times What Type of Health Insurance Is Best?

November 24, 2020 – According to Dr. Steven Goldstein, founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative, “with the current system we have, I would buy a policy that has a high deductible,” he told his podcast audience. “This is sometimes known as ‘catastrophic’ health coverage. Then I would pay cash for my health expenses.”

That times are unsettled was never truer than in 2020. With the U.S. House and the presidential election settled, the majority of the senate remains undecided and will stay that way until the two runoff elections for both Georgia senate seats on January 5, 2021. The implications for the U.S. healthcare system are many. What can or should Americans do in the near term? Listen to “The Houston Healthcare Initiative Podcast to find out. The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on SoundCloudGoogle PlayLibsyn FeedStitcheriHeartRadioSpotify, and the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site.

Cash & Catastrophic Coverage

According to Dr. Goldstein, cash payments are accepted for most if not all medical charges and prescription drugs. Do not try to get the ‘insured’ rate to put against your deductible. Paying cash is much less desirable with the insured rate. “Most people will never reach their deductible amount anyway,” he said. “This arrangement is the best value for people under the current system. So, while at the doctors’ office show them your insurance card but tell them you are paying cash.”

Return of the Mandate?

Most Americans get their health insurance through their employer. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care, made more choices for insurance available and penalized people who did not purchase health insurance. While not ideal, it was a way to get more people covered by private insurance than before. Plus, it offered subsidies for those who could not afford insurance.  But at the same time, it was the mandate and accompanying monetary penalty that seemed to make the policy so unpopular with many. “The overall insurance industry and its approach to paying for healthcare are very flawed in fundamental ways,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “We can spend time and money to make a bad system work better and that is probably what will happen in the near term.”

Likely Short-Term Changes

Some near-term changes are likely to be mandates for private firms and their employees to provide for and buy health insurance. The cost of care for uninsured workers is often passed along to the insured through taxes and other mechanisms. There are employed people now who go without health insurance and keep the part of their pay that would go to health insurance. One economic rationale for employer mandates is that the cost of care for uninsured workers is often passed along to the insured through taxes and other mechanisms. Mandates are, in part, an attempt to eliminate those who opt out of available coverage.

American Attitudes About Caring for Each Other

Generally, Americans have decided that we will treat sick and injured people who do not have insurance, but that treatment is not free. “So, we have all these schemes for the uninsured, or others to make people buy insurance,” Dr. Goldstein said. “While caring for the sick and injured is laudable, paying for it is another matter, like with the Obama Care mandate.”

Three in ten uninsured adults in 2019 went without needed medical care due to cost. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that uninsured people are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases. Not having insurance is generally a financial issue and one that leads to unhealthier people. “With the catastrophic coverage, patients are able to be seen as many practices will not see anyone without insurance,” Dr. Goldstein said. “Paying cash for services and not applying them to the deductible will both save money and result in a healthier population.”

About Houston Healthcare Initiative

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast with Dr. Steven Goldstein is an information vehicle for people who want to know all medical options for themselves and are interested in reforming the healthcare industry. To learn more about the Houston Healthcare Initiative please visit www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Are There Alternatives To Traditional Health Insurance?

Alternatives to Health Insurance

November is health care selection month…

Are There Alternatives To Traditional Health Insurance?

November 16, 2020 — With November the time many Americans are asked to choose their health insurance coverage, the cost, expense, and value are on people’s minds. Are There Alternatives To Traditional Health Insurance? Healthcare is expensive. The healthcare and medical insurance industries are massive with billions of dollars of income. They are able to buy advertising and lobbyists to gain every advantage that money can buy. As Americans try to find ways to pay for it, do any really have any chance of meaningful change for an industry that all but regulates itself? Or should we just resign ourselves to healthcare and insurance companies doing and charging what they want with little if any restriction on them?

Alternatives To Big Insurance

According to Dr. Steven Goldstein, founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative, there are ways to be insured and save money. As he told his podcast audience, the best alternative to insurance at this time is the healthcare cooperative. The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on SoundCloud, Google Play, Libsyn Feed, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site. When combined with a health savings account and a high deductible, sharing of healthcare costs will go down.

Take Care of Yourself

Of course, the best way to lower costs is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, diet, limited alcohol consumption, adequate sleep and not smoking are the best ways anyone can be healthier. But for those who refuse these, there should be consequences. “There needs to be consequences for individuals that do not take care of themselves,” Dr. Goldstein told his audience.   “For those that do nothing, laws need to be changed so that care would only be provided at charity hospitals. I know this is a radical change of thinking, but I believe it would go a long way to improving public health. Subsidizing unhealthy behavior only leads to more unhealthy behavior.”

About the Houston Healthcare Initiative Podcast

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast with Dr. Steven Goldstein is an information vehicle for people who want to know all medical options for themselves and are interested in reforming the healthcare industry. To learn more about the Houston Healthcare Initiative please visit www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Compare Democratic and Republican Healthcare Plans and What the Public Can Do About Them

Compare Healthcare By Party

Compare Democratic and Republican Healthcare Plans and What the Public Can Do About Them. The healthcare and medical insurance industries are massive with billions of dollars of income. They are able to buy advertising and lobbyists to gain every advantage that money can buy. To listen to the podcast, click below. 

Do we really have any chance of meaningful change for an industry that all but regulates itself? Or should we just resign ourselves to healthcare and insurance companies doing and charging what they want with little if any restriction on them? On this podcast, with what is a more optimistic point of view is respected Houston based neurologist and founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative, Dr. Steven Goldstein.

Healthcare reform according to the Democrats is some form of single payer system. According to the Republicans it means more price transparency and more competition between insurance companies. The Democratic reforms will indeed lower healthcare costs by fiat and not cause any appreciable decline of public health. However it also will not improve public health. It will however make individual patients unhappy because of rationing of care. The Republican reforms will have little effect on lowering costs but will avoid the rationing of care. It also will not improve public health. No matter which reforms are adopted patients will be unhappy with the results. Also no legislation will be passed without the blessing of the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals.

What Can The Public Do?

Individuals and companies need to walk away from the insurance system. If enough companies  and individuals leave, the current system will collapse. The best alternative to insurance at this time is the healthcare cooperative. When combined with a health savings account and a high deductible sharing of healthcare costs we can begin to see a gradual reduction in cost. Of course, the best way to lower costs is to lead a healthy lifestyle. This will indeed improve public health. For the medicare age groups, the managed medicare plans lower costs by partial rationing of care combined with encouraging a healthy lifestyle. I do not have the statistics as to whether or not managed medicare plans improve public health.

What About Obamacare?

Didn’t the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care, make more choices for insurance available and penalize people who did not purchase health insurance?Yes, but look what happened to health insurance premiums. They kept rising even faster than before. The subsidies, while allowing more people to be covered by insurance, were a boon to the insurance companies allowing for the increase of premiums and increasing the number of policies sold. This is why the insurance companies and hospitals were in favor of the bill in the first place. We can see the result- higher premiums. Things are worse than they were before. The overall insurance system is flawed in fundamental ways. We are spending time and money to make a bad system work better and that is probably what will happen in the near term.

There needs to be consequences for individuals that do not take care of themselves.             They can subsidize the government insurance by paying the government a higher premium; pay for care themselves or do nothing. For those that do nothing, laws need to be changed so that care would only be provided at charity hospitals. I know this is a radical change of thinking but i believe it would go a long way to improving public health. Subsidizing unhealthy behavior only leads to more unhealthy behavior.

November Is Health Coverage Selection Month; Which One Is Best?

Time To Choose Health Insurance

How can anyone know what the best choice is? November Is Health Coverage Selection Month; Which health insurance option is best?

Is it possible to get good health insurance coverage in 2021 and save money on treatments, prescription drugs and the policy too? The answer according to Dr. Steven Goldstein, founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative and respected neurologist, is yes. On his regular podcast Dr. Goldstein, describes how this could work. The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast is heard on SoundCloud, Libsyn, iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Pod Cast Addict, Back Tracks and the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site.

But, which health insurance option is best? The calendar, the traditional postal mail and email flooding into our respective boxes tells us all that it is time to make selections for health insurance coverage for 2021. What is different this year? and of course, Which health insurance option is best? One major change is that there are fewer choices for health insurance coverage in major population centers. Fewer choices for insurance coverage will mean that insurance companies will have even more influence on what is covered and how much they will pay on patient claims. Fewer choices mean less competition and less competition means the marketplace will have limited influence. For those who want alternatives to traditional health insurance, are there any and what are they? Find out by listening to the podcast here.

Best Selling Author Gerald Posner Discusses ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and Poisoning of America’

Gerald Posner on the podcast this week.
Gerald Posner latest work is “Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America.” This book describes something we here are all very interest in which is the history of the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.

In a special edition of the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast best-selling author and investigative journalist Gerald Posner discusses the sordid history of the drug business from his most recent work, ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and the Poisoning of America.’ It reads like a ‘true crime’ novel, though everything in the volume is true. ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and the Poisoning of America’ is available at Amazon, just click here: ‘Pharma: Greed Lies and the Poisoning of America.’

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on SoundCloud, iTunes, iHeartRadio, LibSyn, Spotify, and the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site. In the book and podcast Posner tells a compelling story that links the history of the pharmaceutical industry from the mid-19th century to the twenty first. It is not a flattering narrative. Many of the practices that were incorporated into marketing and selling heroin and cocaine in the early 20th century were and are still used today. And like they did before, the same companies are deliberately downplaying of the risk of modern-day medicines like opioids that have led to addiction and death for so many Americans.

Interests Intersect

Mr. Posner’s work and the interests of the Houston Healthcare Initiative coincide in several important ways. “The reform of the entire healthcare industry including the pharmaceutical business is our mission,” said Dr. Steven Goldstein who founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative. “We were very flattered he took time to talk with us and the audience about this important topic and we hope that everyone who reads his new book is inspired to act.”

Profits, Then Everything Else

Marketing, sales, advertising and abuse of patent law are all used against the American public to boost sales and stock prices of drug companies. This is part of the historic heritage that links the business’ past to today. “Only by knowing its history,” Mr. Posner writes, “is it possible to fully appreciate how the battle between noble ambitions and greed is a permanent conflict.” Mr. Posner tells many stories about the people behind the industry and the some of the ethically questionable things they did and still do.

Meet the Sacklers

The mindset of these and other actors id’ed in the book can be better understood with one of many informative stories Mr. Posner relates. According to Mr. Posner, eight people in a single family ‘made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic.’ The family in question is the Sacklers, notably Arthur, who “had some clever ideas of how to disguise product promotions as ‘news’ covered in consumer press.” According to media experts, the ad made to look like news or ‘advertorial’ is a really low rung on either the paid ad or public relations ladder.

Nazis? Really?

Mr. Posner detailed this during his interview on the podcast. “In 1947, defense attorneys for Nazi doctors charged with war crimes for human experimentation at concentration camps cited the malaria experiments in a failed effort for an acquittal. He went on, “when Nazi doctors are citing clinical trials from your industry as grounds for an acquittal in their own legal trials, you have erred.”

To learn more about Gerald Posner visit his web site at https://www.posner.com/.

About Houston Healthcare Initiative And Dr. Steven Goldstein

Dr. Steven Goldstein is a Houston based neurologist. He founded the Houston Healthcare Initiative and is an advocate for common sense solutions to the healthcare crisis that confronts the citizens and residents of the United States of America.

 

 

 

Why Are Prescription Drugs Cheaper in Canada?

Why Are Prescription Drugs Cheaper in Canada?

Even those with private, employer funded health insurance gasp at the price of some prescription medications. Learning that the same medicine is available north of the border at a substantially reduced price often produces other emotional reactions from surprise to anger. There are plenty of reasons those drugs are priced differently.

drug prices in Canada are lower because the Canadian government regulates the price.
Why Are Prescription Drugs Cheaper in Canada? Prices in Canada are lower because the Canadian government regulates the price.

Listeners to the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast will learn why as respected neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein explains how the combination of foreign government requirements and U.S. government non-regulation combined to give the American public sticker shock at the drug store.

The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on SoundCloud, iHeartRadio, iTunes, Stitcher, and the website at www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Canadian Government Declares Prices

In short, drug prices in Canada are lower because the Canadian government regulates the price. In Canada, a review board decides on pricing and what they believe are reasonable or excessive prices. If they decide a drug is priced too high, they will not allow it on the drug formulary. This board, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, is described in Canada as a quasi-judicial agency.

Before a prescription drug can be sold in Canada it is scientifically reviewed to make certain that it can do what it is supposed to do. A committee of experts known as the Human Drug Advisory Panel will make recommendations about other valid drugs on which to make comparison, in addition to recommendations for the categorization of new drugs. The level of therapeutic improvement of an existing patented drug is used to determine a ceiling price, known as the Maximum Average Potential Price, at its introduction.

U.S. Prices Set by Industry

The U.S. government is prohibited by law from negotiating prices for Medicare and other government programs. “Obviously, the drug company needs to recoup the cost of research, manufacture, advertising and the cost of getting the drug approved by the FDA,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “The people in this country essentially pay for all of this work as countries like Canada do not allow their citizens to share the cost.” New drugs are issued a patent giving the drug company a monopoly on sale of the drug for 20 years. The drug company is free to set whatever price it likes for prescription drugs. Prices are then negotiated between insurance companies and the manufacturers.

Needed Drug Price Reforms

The U.S. and Canadian systems each present two very different models for drug pricing, neither of which is reasonable. The Canadian system does not allow enough incentive for new drugs to be created. The American system results in unaffordable prices. “There are several needed reforms,” Dr. Goldstein said. “We are not able to flip a switch and adopt the prices charged in Canada, though that would be nice.”

The reforms Dr. Goldstein recommends are:

  • Reform drug patent law. The patent system for drugs needs to be reformed so that drug development costs can be recouped along with a profit. Once this occurs, the patent should expire.
  • Streamline approval. The FDA needs reform so that drug authorizations are more efficient. Possibly, an international FDA funded by a consortium of countries could approve drugs.
  • Eliminate monetary incentives for writing prescriptions.
  • Drug discounts to insurance companies and Medicare should be illegal.
  • Enforce the laws already passed. Antitrust laws for price collusion need to be enforced.

“If these reforms were enacted, prices for drugs would be determined more by supply and demand,” Dr. Goldstein said. “This would ensure an adequate supply at the lowest price. For high priced drugs of marginal benefit, demand would be low and would tend to cause the price to drop. For new orphan drugs, the government could provide subsidies.”

About Houston Healthcare Initiative

Houston Healthcare Initiative (HHI) was founded by Dr. Steven Goldstein. Like many Americans, Dr. Goldstein is concerned about the state of the U.S healthcare system as well as the sorry state of the public’s health. The Houston Healthcare Initiative web site is an aggregator of news, healthcare pricing information, and resources for those who want to help drive reform for the healthcare industry. HHI’s emphasis for reform is on free market innovation and personal responsibility.

 

Why Canadian Drug Prices Are Lower Than US Drug Prices

US & Canadian Drug Prices

What are the reasons prices for prescribed medicine here are far higher than they are in Canada? Is there a good reason or any reason? Add to this the recent federal government action to bring U.S. drug prices close to or on par with their costs in Canada. To make sense of this, please listen to the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast. Listen here to find out Why Canadian Drug Prices Are Lower Than US Drug Prices.

Listen for more here at https://soundcloud.com/you/tracks.