An IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics survey released April 4 shows a drop in physician office visits and prescription use. As patients struggle with high deductibles, co-pays, and general economic issues they are more likely to ask their physician about cheaper alternatives for tests and prescriptions, or to find other alternatives rather than seeing their doctor.
IMS’ report findings are similar to reports from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Chase health industry analyst John Rex. Their reports also found a decline in office visits. Another survey report, released November 2011 by Commonwealth Fund, said 42 percent of “sicker” adults had more cost-related access problems than in the previous year.
IMS’ report found that from 2010 to 2011:
- Retail pharmacy prescription spending declined 1.1 percent.
- Prescription spending by insured patients ages 19-25 went up 2 percent.
- Patients 65 and older spent 3.1 percent less out-of-pocket for prescriptions.
- Ages 65-69 had the biggest prescription decline, with a 4.3 percent drop.
- The biggest prescription decline was for those treating hypertension.
- Non-emergency hospital admissions declined 0.1 percent.
- Emergency admissions went up 7.4 percent.
The increase in emergency admissions is an indicator that patients are reluctant to seek medical treatment from their physician office or to take medications because of financial concerns. Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation said, “It suggests people are putting off care, and they’re showing up sicker.”
According to the survey, here are the statistics showing the number of office visit changes from prior years:
2002 – 1,503,225,000: 2.7%
2003 – 1,589,694,000: 5.8%
2004 – 1,565,978,000: -1.5%
2005 – 1,654,375,000: 5.6%
2006 – 1,670,502,000: 1.0%
2007 – 1,624,189,000: -2.8%
2008 – 1,627,786,000: 0.2%
2009 – 1,602,354,000: -1.6%
2010 – 1,535,506,000: -4.2%
2011 – 1,468,265,000: -4.7%
Advice for Physicians Who are Seeing a Decline
According to an amednews.com article, here’s what physicians can do to make it more likely that financially strapped patients will follow advice for prevention and treatment:
- Explain the value of the recommended medication, test, or procedure even if the patient doesn’t ask. Barry Make, MD, a pulmonologist with National Jewish Health in Denver, said, “Patients will only do something if they understand what it is for, but patients are often reluctant or ashamed or embarrassed to ask.”
- Make it clear that some negotiation is possible if cost is a significant concern. For example, see a patient every four months rather than every three.
- Steer patients to lower-cost prescription resources and write prescriptions for drugs to be filled cheaper at big pharmacies.
- Guide patients to drug assistance programs or discount programs.
Source: IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics “The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2011“
April 27th, 2012
If Congress takes up recent recommendations made by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), acute care and outpatient hospitals, physicians and other health professionals, ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), end-stage renal dialysis (ESRD) centers, and hospices should see payment rate increases in 2012. But for long-term care hospitals (LTCHs), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), home health agencies (HHAs), and inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs), MedPAC paints a different picture in its March 2011 Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy.
April 1st, 2011
Home blood-glucose test strips and lancets are big business. In 2007, Noridian Administrative Services, LLC, allowed payments totaling $219 million for just these diabetic control supplies alone. Of that amount, the jurisdiction D durable medical equipment Medicare administrative contractor (DME MAC) allowed payment for $76 million high-use test strip and/or lancet claims—more than half of which the Office of Inspector General (OIG) says were inappropriately paid.
A February 2011 OIG report details the investigation that led to these claims, and provides insight as to how providers and suppliers can get paid for these DME claims without fear of retribution. (more…)
February 25th, 2011
An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report released Oct. 5 calls for nurses to take on a larger, more independent role in the health care arena. Whereas nursing advocates are all for equal work and equal pay, physician organizations have a different opinion.
October 15th, 2010
A government-led medical record review reveals that 39 percent of Medicare Part B claims allowed for mental health services during non-Part A nursing home stays in 2006 did not meet the program requirements for coverage, according to a July 8 Office of Inspector General (OIG) report. Specifically, the OIG says, services were found to be medically unnecessary, undocumented or inadequately documented or miscoded. These errors resulted in an estimated $74 million in inappropriate Part B payments.
July 30th, 2010