PatientPOV to Look at Dollars
And Value in Healthcare

Today, I am announcing that PatientPOV will make a concerted effort to take up economic issues and value in healthcare because changes are afoot.

Everyone from health policy wonks, elected officials, and health insurers are pressing for getting value for services rendered (e.g. labs, procedures, surgery), rather than simply chalking up a lot of procedures and high-cost procedures with inattention to whether they help patients. As the environment which people find themselves shifts towards a push for getting more value per buck, as well as shifting more costs to the public, I wonder whether it is foolhardy to continue dodging complex discussions about this.

We all stand a better chance of pressing for equitable high-quality care if we are informed about the backdrop that we face, understanding its strengths and limitations. Only then can we have leverage for healthcare on fair terms.

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As part of this shift, later this week, I will cover a new study of a web-based tool introduced by an insurer that aims to give enrollees transparent price information, including their own out-of-pocket costs prior to getting specific procedures. Even though there are hurdles to sharing such information, these tools are proliferating.

5 Reasons Why I Find This Year’s Allergy Season
Especially Aggravating

The High Line, New York, NY

1.    Allegra, the non-sedating antihistamine has gone over the counter, with nearly psychedelic purple boxes knocking me down when I go into my local drugstore. It has also skyrocketed in cost.

That means people with allergies are paying far more than they were paying before. One aspect of this is called cost shifting in professional circles. But developments like this jack up people’s out of pocket expenditures. Bear with me: I don’t want to sound pedantic.

My local Walgreen’s  is selling Allegra for about $1.00 a pill, sometimes more, depending on the size of the package.   My friend on Medicare got Allegra for $6 per month before this switch. Now it is at least five-times that.

It’s not just Allegra. Zyrtec and Claritin went over the counter earlier. Even sold as generics, it gets pretty pricey (similar to brand).

The public needs to know more about how they benefit and lose when drugs are moved over the counter. I’ve heard that some health plans may compensate for out-of-pocket drug costs. I’d like to hear more about that from readers.

2.    Global warming experts say that this may be the worst allergy season ever, and as temperatures rise in the years ahead, we can expect more pollen, more headaches, and more congestion. It is not a pretty picture.

3.    Air conditioning is recommended for minimizing pollen exposure, but it is expensive. Con Ed, one of the major gas and electric utilities, plans to raise rates by 12% on top of 4%, already approved this summer. Sure I can be green and minimize usage, but I might get sick.

4.    Why do I have to live in or close to allergy hot spots? A few years ago, I went to back-to-back medical meetings in Atlanta GA, where I had an unrelenting post-nasal drip/allergy cough.

Today’s allergy hotspots put many places in the northeast at the top.

5.    And I just love the advice to avoid exposure to allergens that give you a hard time. Of course, that makes logical sense, but I don’t want to miss cherry blossom season and seeing everything in bloom.  It makes me feel like an invalid.

People enjoying the cherry blossoms, near the Central Park Bridal Path

New York City is thankfully planting millions of trees the next few years. This could be a disaster for me…but I would rather see greenery than concrete.

Some Caveats About Allergies

I do think that some age-old drugs that are very cheap work fine for people.  Many times, doctors don’t even mention them. Some may not even put people to sleep. Diluting allergens with water in your eyes can be a low-cost way to help you out. Some people swear by nettipots, using nasal irrigation, which clean out your sinuses. I must confess I have been a bit daunted by the prospect. Various nasal sprays, some with cortisone, others not, help many people. It’s just that you can feel very draggy with allergies.

There are plenty of places to look on the web for information on allergies so I am cutting this post short, simply focusing on what is making me especially aggravated this year. What about you?