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.

 

 

 

A Retracted Article Drove Misunderstanding of Hydroxychloroquine

A Retracted Article Drove Misunderstanding Hydroxychloroquine

A Retracted Article Drove Misunderstanding of Hydroxychloroquine. No one can unring a bell. When articles published in the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine published and then retracted an article critical about the possible use of hydroxychloriquine as a treatment for Coronavirus/Covid-19 they may have shown good faith with the retractions but the damage was done. On his regular podcast, Dr. Steven Goldstein discusses how and why the use of an inexpensive drug was widely criticized. An article from Tablet magazine (Hydroxychloroquine: A Morality Tale) describes the issue in detail.

The criticisms were based on the retracted articles, but there was more to it. Political agendas and money both added to the manufactured confusion about a drug that was used to treat malaria, lupus and others without controversy. Dr. Goldstein believes that reforms for government and the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry were never more obvious than in this example. A Retracted Article Drove Misunderstanding of Hydroxychloroquine.

Court Rules Against the Hospital Industry Mandates Price Disclosure

Court Rules Against the Hospital Industry Mandates Price Disclosure. Hospital prices that were historically rigged by the medical business along with the insurance industry, and kept secret from the public, will see the light of day January 1, 2021. This because on June 23, 2020 a federal judge in Washington D.C. dismissed a suit brought by the American Hospital Association (AHA) that challenged the Department of Health and Human Services rule mandating hospitals to disclose their privately negotiated prices with health insurance companies.  This ruling, and what it means for doctors, patients and the industry, is the subject of the latest edition of the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast. The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on SoundCloud, iTunes, iHeart, Spotify and on the Houston Healthcare Initiative website.

Court Ruling Allows Transparency

Hospital Price Transparency
Court Rules Against the Hospital Industry & Mandates Price Disclosure.

The court ruled that an executive order from the Trump administration requiring hospitals to disclose pricing was legal. A federal judge upheld a policy that requires hospitals and health insurers to publish their negotiated prices for health services, numbers that are typically kept secret. The policy is part of a major push by the Trump administration to improve transparency in health care. Insurers and health providers usually negotiate deals behind closed doors, and patients rarely know the cost of services until after the fact.

Healthcare Industry Public Relations Offensive

The meaning of the ruling and what will happen are different. As Dr. Goldstein told his audience, “there will be an appeal accompanied by a full court public relations press by the hospital industry to derail this effort.” Dr. Goldstein went on to say, “if the battle can be dragged out until after the presidential election, hospitals and insurance companies can hope a new administration will rescind the executive order.”

Four organizations are now urging the Department of Health and Human Services to delay implementation of the price transparency rule until after the appeals court makes a decision in the case. The American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Children’s Hospital Association made their request in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar on June 29, five days after these associations and others filed an appeal against the ruling which would implement a rule on price transparency on January first. The groups said the rule would ‘pose a burden to hospitals and health systems responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.’ Thirty-four hospital groups have already urged HHS to delay the start of the price disclosure.

In an article published in “Becker Hospital Review” AHA General Counsel Melinda Hatton said, “the proposal does nothing to help patients understand their out-of-pocket costs.” She added, “it also imposes significant burdens on hospitals at a time when resources are stretched thin and need to be devoted to patient care. Hospitals and health systems have consistently supported efforts to provide patients with information about the costs of their medical care. This is not the right way to achieve this important goal.”

About The Houston Healthcare Initiative

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. Court Rules Against the Hospital Industry Mandates Price Disclosure.

What The Court Ruled About Hospital Price Transparency

This week on the Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast, Dr. Steven Goldstein takes a deeper dive into a court decision where hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates with insurers starting this coming January 1, 2021. Plus, he will provide more insight into how hospitals decide what and how much to charge us, and man is that a story. It’s all more than a little complex. The podcast is available on all the popular podcast networks including SoundCloud, iHeart, and Spotify among others.

How Are Prices Now Assessed

Hospital prices are not based on the free market. Instead, prices are agreed on via secret agreements between hospitals and insurance companies. The truth is that pricing for medical services as paid by insurance companies are artificially set and not competitive at all. Prices are agreed to in advance by the hospital and the insurance company, not disclosed to the public. “We are led to believe that our insurance providers negotiate on behalf of their policyholders,” Dr. Goldstein told his audience. This is not the case. The court has ruled that this will no longer be permitted, that hospitals will have to reveal these negotiated rates and thus hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates .

Hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates to the public.
Hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates to the public.The court ruling that upheld a Trump Administration policy that forces hospitals to reveal their prices.

Why Hospitals Object

One reason many hospitals do not list their actual prices is that, according to them, some cases are more complicated than others. “An appendectomy may go smoothly or may be complicated by other factors such as adhesions from a previous surgery that caused scarring,” Dr. Goldstein said. “This may require additional operating room time resulting in a higher cost.  Thus hospitals claim they can only give estimates.”

Alternatively, this could be handled in one of two ways. 1). Publish the price for each procedure at what the hospital perceives as the average price. Then find ways to cut costs so that average cost is lowered resulting in increased profit for the hospital.  2). Alternatively, publish a price for operating room time by the hour that would include all the ancillary charges + publish the range of operating room times for each procedure.

How Prices Are Set Now

With the use of computer technology, hospitals are able to establish a charge for each product or service, no matter how small. “Every aspirin, every blood test, every x-ray, every bandage, every suture has a charge; Dr. Goldstein said. “Some of these charges beg credulity e.g. the $20 aspirin. All these charges are added up to give the total hospital charge. Of course, this doesn’t include multiple physician charges that are separate.” This all resulted in the Trump administration’s order that hospitals must reveal private negotiated rates to the public.

But the final charge is the “sticker price”. The insurance companies never pay this price. They have a secret, negotiated price based on the Medicare price for those services.

Why Healthcare Insurance & Hospitals Do Not Want You To Know About Pricing

Medical Price Transparency
Why Healthcare Insurance & Hospitals Do Not Want You To Know About Pricing

Transparency and the need for it in different industries is a word and requirement we hear a lot about. It should not surprise anyone that some insurers and hospital groups are working to block the implementation of federal rules that make hospital pricing transparent. They argue these will confuse consumers and potentially lead to higher costs. But there is good news. According to the New York Times, a federal judge has upheld a Trump administration policy that requires hospitals and health insurers to publish their negotiated prices for health services, numbers that are typically kept secret.

Most of us have our health insurance provided by our employers and we do not pay as much attention to the price of medical care as we do the cost of other consumer items. But maybe we should pay more attention? The fact that the charges for our visits to the doctor, hospital and pharmacist are mostly paid for by our insurance does not make us any less likely to get both overcharged and underserved. In fact, it is a lack of transparency that makes medical costs so high.

The issue is that patients do not know the actual price of services. The list price is the price charged to patients without insurance. Each Insurance company negotiates a discounted price. Thus there are multiple discounted prices depending on the insurance company plus a different price for Medicare and Medicaid. These prices have traditionally been secret. There is no competition between hospitals based on price. Medicare sets the price standard based on costs. Thus, hospitals are cost plus operations with little incentive to reduce costs.

Learn more by listening to the podcast.

The Healthcare Not Received During the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Pandemic

From Heart Attacks to Cancer Screenings and Chemotherapy

During the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic, people who did not have symptoms of the disease put themselves at risk as those with chronic conditions missed treatments, skipped appointments and chose not to report serious symptoms; this is the healthcare not received during the coronavirus/covid-19 pandemic. Many who lost their employer funded health insurance also missed schedules and treatments. Add to this the fear of visiting a doctor’s office or clinic with reported cases of Coronavirus/Covid-19 on the uptick, another health crisis may be on the horizon.

This was one of the issues affecting the American public discussed by Houston based neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein on his regular podcast. The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on: Soundcloud, iHeart, Spotify, or iTunes. To learn more about the Houston Healthcare Initiative, go to www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Cancer Screenings Plummet

No Visitors
Patients who may need to be seen in the office are choosing not to go to the doctor for lots of reasons.

In March and April, patients were asked to postpone appointments that were not urgent. According to a white paper published by ‘Epic Health Research Network’ cancer screenings for cervix, colon, and breast cancer decreased between 86% – 94% in March, 2020. Care for heart attacks, organ transplants, high blood pressure and diabetes fell in March and remain significantly lower compared to the same time in 2019. “There is a 20% decrease in the number of interactions between patients and their oncologists during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “Anytime a screening is delayed, it means that detection and early treatment are too, plus important therapy on advanced cancer are not administered.

Some Need To Be Seen

Many physicians, like Dr. Goldstein, ramped up their telemedicine capabilities in March and see patients that way. But there are still times when a patient needs to be seen. Instances where patients have symptoms that include shortness of breath is one. This symptom could signal heart failure, asthma, pneumonia or even the Covid-19 virus. A diagnosis like that cannot be done over the phone. “Patients and their families should err on the side of caution, contact their doctor and allow their physician the opportunity to make the right decision for the best treatment,” Dr. Goldstein said.

What Concerned Patients Can Ask

For those who believe or are told they must get in to see a doctor, and there is time available in a non-emergency, Dr. Goldstein has some potential questions to pose.

  • Does everyone on staff and patients wear masks?
  • Are the number of persons allowed in the office limited?
  • Has everyone on staff been tested for COVID-19?
  • Are cleaning protocols sufficient to manage waiting rooms, offices, and labs?
  • Has the patient taken responsibility for social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing themselves?

According to Dr. Goldstein, “we have a responsibility to our patients to provide the most appropriate and effective care possible while at the same time keeping potential exposure to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 virus to a minimum.”

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.

Job Losses Equal Employer Funded Health Insurance Loss

Closed for Coronavirus

Here Are Some Resources

Even with fewer jobs lost in May than anticipated Americans now experience an unemployment rate of 13.3% or 21 million people out of work due to the coronavirus/covid-19 pandemic. On top of lost income, loss of employer provided health insurance makes the cost even higher for those who through no fault of their own find themselves in a very challenging situation. On his podcast this week, Dr. Steven Goldstein describes how job losses equal employer funded health insurance loss and some available and often free resources for those who need health insurance. To listen to the podcast go to: Soundcloud, iHeart, Spotify, or iTunes. Or click here to listen:

 

Double Loss; Job and Health Insurance

Most Americans rely on their employers to provide health insurance for them and their families and when those jobs disappear so does the coverage. “It is extremely important that people get some type of coverage when they have lost their health insurance,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “The available things to look into are COBRA, spouse insurance, faith-based cooperatives, enrollment on the insurance exchange (Obama Care), Medicaid and CHIP.”

COBRA Coverage

COBRA allows employees (and their families) who would otherwise lose their group health coverage due to certain life events to continue their same group health coverage. The former employee generally pays the full monthly rate and not the discounted one for their health insurance. Under COBRA, group health plans must also provide covered employees and their families with certain notices explaining their COBRA rights. The revised model notices provide additional information to address COBRA’s interaction with Medicare. The model notices explain that there may be advantages to enrolling in Medicare before, or instead of, electing COBRA.

State Insurance Exchange

While typically only available during certain months of the year, the state insurance exchange can open for those who experience a ‘life changing’ event. One such event is the loss of a job and employer sponsored health insurance. “You can shop for health plans through your state’s insurance marketplace,” Dr. Goldstein said. “But don’t wait around, there are 30 to 60 days to sign up after a qualifying life event before the end of that special enrollment period.”

Spouse Insurance

In households where a spouse’ employer offers health insurance; those benefits may be available. “It is easy enough to find out if a spouse’s job offers health insurance and sign on for that,” Dr. Goldstein said.

Faith Based Health Cooperatives

Faith based plans most often share expenses among members. Each member pays a monthly premium. When one of the members becomes ill or needs treatment for an injury, his or her contributions cover the expenses, in conjunction with the collective input of fellow members. “As such, the premiums are lower in comparison to those of traditional health care,” Dr. Goldstein said. “These operate with exemptions to the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care.”

Medicare

Eligibility for Medicare is based on income and the size of family. Medicaid provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities in all fifty states.  In some states the program covers all low-income adults below a certain income level. “But do not assume that you do or do not qualify,” said Dr. Goldstein. “There are online resources available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services along with state references to help guide you.”

CHIP

CHIP stands for ‘Children’s Health Insurance Program.’ CHIP offers low-cost health coverage for children from birth through age 18. CHIP is designed for families who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford to buy private health coverage. This coverage comes through the Medicaid program, which is why they are frequently seen together.

Income Qualification for Medicare

A family of four with an income of $25,750.00 at the poverty level and eligible for Medicaid or CHIP coverage. For an individual the amount was $12,490.00. The amount goes up by $4,420.00 for each additional family member. “The guidelines change every year,” Goldstein said.

The Good News

There are plenty of alternatives available to individuals and families that can be used short or for the longer term that are not all based on a job with insurance. People under age 26, may even be able to join their parents’ employer-based plan. “There are places to go and affordable resources available,” Dr. Goldstein concluded. “Any type of healthcare insurance or coverage will help protect your finances later.”

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.

 

How Will Healthcare Change After Coronavirus Covid-19

Rapid deployment to battle epidemics is key to winning.

How Will Healthcare Change After Coronavirus Covid-19

Doctors, hospitals, state and federal government agencies along with drug and insurance companies have all made concessions to the public during the time of the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. This emergency affects every American so it stands to reason that what follows will too. But will common sense, red tape cutting, sensible changes that benefit patients remain, or be disposed of like so much medical waste? And what about preparations for future outbreaks? Houston based neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein of the Houston Healthcare Initiative shares his views on this topic with his podcast audience. The podcast is available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Libsyn, and on www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Telemedicine

While remote access to doctors via Internet based communications is nothing new, it was never widely used until the outbreak of the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. But will patients continue to use this convenience? “It depends on what insurance companies will cover as well as what the regulations are from the state board of medical examiners,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners. “There are plenty of good reasons to maintain this capability. Remote locations, lack of transportation resources and the reality that sick people are not keen to go to a clinic or doctor’s office whether they have the flu, a stomachache or even the Coronavirus should all help persuade the insurance industry to maintain payments for remote appointments.”

Lessons from the Pandemic – Rapid Strike Force

The speed that a viral outbreak is met with can prevent wider infection. Borrowing from an analogy coined by Bill Gates, Dr. Goldstein compared treatment to fighting a war.  “We need a standing army to spring into action when a virus is first found and ready to travel anywhere in the world to go to work,” he said.

LTC-Kryder-E-Van-Buskirk-Commander-of-the-8076th-MASH-in-Kunu-Ri-Korea-November-27
A medical rapid strike force to battle disease is one of the lessons the healthcare industry and government should apply after the Coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic. LTC Kryder E. Van Buskirk, Commander of the 8076th MASH in Kunu- Ri, Korea, November 27, 1950. U.S. Army photograph 8A/FEC-50-22795 by CPL Fred A. Rice reprinted with permission.

Dr. Goldstein envisions teams of doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, virologists, and other medical professionals who can very quickly construct field hospitals on the site of the outbreak, isolate and treat the sick people and find treatments for them. “This would be like a ‘Mobile Army Surgical Hospital’ or MASH unit; fully equipped, staffed and right at the front line. The enemy is disease and must be fought aggressively.”

No Excuses

Goldstein thinks that the federal government must put a greater emphasis on public health and do more to keep people from getting sick. “This is not the first epidemic we’ve faced in recent years just the most recent,” Dr. Goldstein said. He described the many recent health crises the world has faced and faces including HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika, MERS and lately the Coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak. “There will be no excuse for any lack of preparedness when this happens again, and we know it will happen again.”

About Dr. Steven Goldstein

The goal of Dr. Steven Goldstein and the Houston Healthcare Initiative is to be a catalyst for change in the way Americans receive and pay for medical treatment. To cause change his web site is an aggregator of information, tools, and targets for the reform of the healthcare industry with an emphasis on free market innovation and personal responsibility.

 

 

Houston Based Neurologist Explains Reason for ‘Surprise Hospital Bills’

A Houston based neurologist, Dr. Steven Goldstein, explains the reasons patients can get very expensive hospital bills even if they went to a hospital, clinic or emergency room that is part of their insurance network on his latest podcast. The Houston Healthcare Initiative podcast can be heard on Soundcloud, iTunes, Libsyn, or on www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org

Houston Based Neurologist Explains Reason for ‘Surprise Hospital Bills’

No Insurance Network Required for Doctors

While the insurance industry has trained patients, doctors, and hospitals that we all must have insurance and be part of an insurance network the same is not the case for doctors. While in-network doctors and hospitals have agreed with the insurance company how much procedures and tests will cost, not all doctors who work in hospitals are part of any insurance network and can charge more than what insurance will cover. To make this worse for patients and the ultimate cause of ‘surprise hospital bills’ hospitals, emergency rooms or clinics are not required to disclose this to patients or their loved ones. As Dr. Goldstein told his listeners, “behind the scenes, the in-network doctor and the hospital agreed in advance what the charges were going to be. So, the in-network doctor is paid a flat rate based on that agreement. The doctor who works at the hospital but is not part of the insurance network can charge more and get paid more. He is under no obligation to say anything about this to the patient and will not.”

How Can This Be? Private Equity Companies

Private equity companies that own staffing firms and place doctors to work in hospitals along with the American Hospital Association have stated publicly that restricting the independent pricing capability will make putting doctors in geographic or socially challenging locations much more difficult, as higher pay is the biggest incentive for going to work in rural or economically disadvantaged areas. These doctors have no incentive to join an insurer network, which would require them to cut their fees. These are the source of many surprise medical bills.

Doctor Patient Unity Unmasked

A shadowy lobbying group known as Doctors and Patients United are owned and funded by TeamHealth and Envision Healthcare, private-equity-backed companies that own physician practices and staff emergency rooms around the country. In late July, 2019 Doctor Patient Unity placed more than $28 million  in ads opposing the legislation that would ban surprise medical bill, without disclosing who was behind the ads.

Current Information on Federal Legislation

There are several committees and bills on this being considered. At this writing the following bill was being considered: S 1895: Lower Health Care Costs Act. The bill was introduced by Senator Lamar Alexander (R, Tennessee) on June 19, 2019 and reported June 26, 2019. The committees assigned to this bill sent it to the House or Senate as a whole for consideration on June 26, 2019. For resources and the information to act on this bill please go to: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/s1895.

Well-known and respected Houston based Neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein is dedicated to reforming healthcare in the U.S. through education and information to the people who need it most. To learn more about the Houston Healthcare Initiative please go to www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Retired But Too Young for Medicare? What Now?

Retired But Too Young for Medicare? What Now?

There are plenty of people who retire before the age of 65, whether this was their choice or had retirement thrust upon them. Regardless of the circumstance, these people need health coverage. And since they are ‘retired’ they likely need low or lower cost coverage without sacrificing their quality of care. There are several options for those people according to Houston based neurologist and founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative CO-OP, Dr. Steven Goldstein. 

Retired But Too Young for Medicare? What Now?

Fear of Loss

Employees fear losing their company subsidized health insurance and when accepting or choosing retirement, that benefit ceases along with the paycheck. According to Dr. Goldstein, it is a situation worth examining and planning for. “There are several alternatives for people who are not old enough for Medicare,” Dr. Goldstein said. “For one, they can choose an extension of their former employers’ insurance through what is known as COBRA.”

COBRA

COBRA stands for “Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. “It’s a law that since 1985, provides for continuing group health insurance coverage for employees and family members after what they call ‘job loss’,” Dr. Goldstein said. “But, it only applies at companies with more than 20 employees and to state and local government workers. It does not apply to federal workers, churches, or some church related organizations. What’s more this is a short-term fix because there is an 18-month limit on this option. So for someone who is 60 this will get them to 61.5. But there are those other 3.5 years remaining.” COBRA is also a costly choice. Those choosing it can expect to pay up to 102% of the premiums including the part your employer used to pay. 

Affordable Care Act

Options for the Affordable Care Act or Obama-Care are available on line. While the politics of healthcare mean that future choices may be different or even non-existent, but at the moment the law remains in place. “Here in Texas, everyone is required to have health insurance, but they are not required to purchase it through the government,” Dr. Goldstein said. “There is no longer the threat of a fine from the federal government for not having health insurance but going without is never a good idea.”

Healthcare Co-Ops

People can and probably should consider one of the health sharing cooperatives. There are several from which to choose, not the least of them the Houston Healthcare Initiative CO-OP. But according to Dr. Goldstein, there is more to the Houston Healthcare Initiative CO-OPthan inexpensive health coverage. “Our first priority is to improve our members health first and help pay for ‘sick care’ second,” Dr Goldstein stated. “As people work with us to manage their own health, the cost goes down. When they do get sick, we can provide lists of places to get the best prices on prescription medicine, tests, imaging and hospitalization. But, and I want to really stress this, our approach to managing the cost of healthcare is to find ways to be sick less often. We help people manage their weight, level of fitness and other choices they can consciously make to be healthier. So, if you want to save money on healthcare, find ways to be sick less often.”

To find ways to be sick less often and save on health coverage, then look to the  Houston Healthcare Initiative CO-OP and visit the web site at www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.