Medical debt soars for consumers with hospital credit cards : Shots

Many hospitals are now partnering with financing companies to offer payment plans when patients and their families can’t afford their bills. The catch: the plans can come with interest that significantly increases a patient’s debt.

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Many hospitals are now partnering with financing companies to offer payment plans when patients and their families can’t afford their bills. The catch: the plans can come with interest that significantly increases a patient’s debt.

sesame/Getty Images

Patients at North Carolina-based Atrium Health get what looks like an enticing pitch when they go to the nonprofit hospital system’s website: a payment plan from lender AccessOne. The plans offer “easy ways to make monthly payments” on medical bills, the website says. You don’t need good credit to get a loan. Everyone is approved. Nothing is reported to credit agencies.

In Minnesota, Allina Health encourages its patients to sign up for an account with MedCredit Financial Services to “consolidate your health expenses.” In Southern California, Chino Valley Medical Center, part of the Prime Healthcare chain, touts “promotional financing options with the CareCredit credit card to help you get the care you need, when you need it.”

As Americans are overwhelmed with medical bills, patient financing is now a multibillion-dollar business, with private equity and big banks lined up to cash in when patients and their families can’t pay for care. By one estimate from research firm IBISWorld, profit margins top 29% in the patient financing industry, seven times what is considered a solid hospital margin.

Hospitals and other providers, which historically put their patients in interest-free payment plans, have welcomed the financing, signing contracts with lenders and enrolling patients in financing plans with rosy promises about convenient bills and easy payments.

For patients, the payment plans often mean something more ominous: yet more debt.

Millions of people are paying interest on these plans, on top of what they owe for medical or dental care, an investigation by KHN and NPR shows. Even with lower rates than a traditional credit card, the interest can add hundreds, even thousands of dollars to medical bills and ratchet up financial strains when patients are most vulnerable.

Robin Milcowitz, a Florida woman who found herself enrolled in an AccessOne loan at a Tampa hospital in 2018 after having a hysterectomy for ovarian cancer, said she was appalled by the financing

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To prevent medical debt, the U.S. could learn from Germany’s health care system : Shots

Dr. Eckart Rolshoven examines a patient at his clinic in Püttlingen, a small town in Germany’s Saarland region. Although Germany has a largely private health care system, patients pay nothing out-of-pocket when they come to see him.

Pasquale D’Angiolillo for KHN


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Dr. Eckart Rolshoven examines a patient at his clinic in Püttlingen, a small town in Germany’s Saarland region. Although Germany has a largely private health care system, patients pay nothing out-of-pocket when they come to see him.

Pasquale D’Angiolillo for KHN

PÜTTLINGEN, Germany — Almost every day, Dr. Eckart Rolshoven sees the long shadow of coal mining in his clinic near the big brownstone church that dominates this small town in Germany’s Saarland.

The region’s last-operating coal shaft, just a few miles away, closed a decade ago, ending centuries of mining in the Saarland, a mostly rural state tucked between the Rhine River and the French border. But the mines left a difficult legacy, as they have in coal regions in the United States, including West Virginia.

Many of Rolshoven’s patients battle lung diseases and chronic pain from years of work underground. “We had an industry with a lot of illnesses,” said Rolshoven, a genial primary care physician who at 71 is nearing the end of a long career.

The Saarland’s residents are sicker than elsewhere in Germany. And like West Virginia, the region faces economic hurdles. For decades, German politicians, business leaders and unions have labored to adjust to the mining industry’s slow demise.

But this is a healthier place than West Virginia in many respects. The region’s residents are less likely to die prematurely, data shows. And on average, they live four years longer than West Virginians.

There is another important difference between this former coal territory and its Appalachian counterpart: West Virginia’s economic struggles have been compounded by medical debt, a burden that affects about 100 million people in the U.S. — in no state more than West Virginia.

In the Saarland, medical debt is practically nonexistent. It’s so rare in Germany that the federal government’s statistical office doesn’t even track it.

The reason isn’t government health care. Germany, like the U.S., has a largely private health care system that relies on private doctors and private insurers. Like Americans, many Germans enroll in a health plan through work, splitting the cost with their employer.

But Germany has

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DNA Helps You Identify Your Food and Pet Allergies

Having diarrhea after being invited for a meal or feeling like you’re sneezing too much around your pet can frustrate you when you don’t know the cause. You can get a test from websites such as dnacentre.co.uk where, after analysing your DNA, you will receive a detailed report on the foods and pets you must avoid by all means staying away from allergies. Google statistics show people search for this type of test, followed by people searching for “paternity test in the UK“. It is a simple process. You just log on to the lab’s website, buy the kit, take the samples at home and send them to the lab to have your DNA analysed. The test takes six months, and you will receive a detailed report about the foods and pets you are allergic.

What information do they include in the results?

Don’t be surprised if you discover you are allergic to substances or animals you didn’t even know about, once you get the results. The most common food allergies are gluten, lactose, animal milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, corn, soy, fish, and shrimp. The report also includes a list of pets that can cause skin irritability, eye irritation, nasal allergies, or even affect an organ in your body. Please note that the report is so comprehensive and detailed that you may find unknown words. The best thing to do in this case is to seek the help of a medical professional who can explain what you don’t understand. These results come from your DNA. They are accurate and do not change over time, so this report will never be obsolete.

Why should you take this test?

It should be mandatory for every person in the world to know what they are allergic to, to avoid accidents. Some people have such strong allergies to foods, such as shrimp or oysters that consuming just one of them can be life-threatening. The results will show you certain foods or pets can trigger which allergies and how severe those allergies can be. For example, some people sneeze after eating chocolate, but they don’t mind because they love the taste of chocolate. Besides this information, the report also includes complete and detailed information about the foods you should eat, the type of lifestyle you should have, and whether you should take nutritional supplements. All of this is intended to keep your immune …

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Post-Roe, some areas may lose OB/GYNs if medical students can’t get training

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When Andrea Soto was 10 years old, her family immigrated to Texas from Mexico. Her grandmother, who lived in Houston, had Alzheimer’s disease, and her parents wanted to be closer to help with her care.

Growing up, Soto often served as an interpreter between her family members and their doctors.

“I did the best I could,” she said, “but there were moments that were complicated, and it went over my head, and we just tried the best we could as a family.”

Today, Soto is a third-year medical student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine. She chose to study at UTRGV — located in South Texas along the border with Mexico — because of the opportunity to work with a Spanish-speaking immigrant population.

“I want to be that Brown doctor that a Brown little girl who is interpreting for their parents should have had,” she said.

Her goal is to establish a practice that will serve immigrant families like her own, with a specialty in either family medicine or obstetrics and gynecology. But as Soto prepares to apply for her residency after medical school, she’s giving priority to programs outside her home state.

That’s because, despite her desire to stay close to home, she’s concerned she won’t have access to the medical training she needs if she stays in Texas.

“I won’t get the abortion care training I need if I stay, and I’m not willing to sacrifice that,” Soto said.

In states where abortion is now illegal, medical students like Soto are reconsidering their choices, abandoning their original plans in favor of pursuing training in states where abortion is legal.

“It’s a difficult position to be put in,” said Jessica Flores, a second-year medical student at UTRGV, who comes from the small city of Portland in South Texas and has long dreamed of serving her community as a physician. Now that Texas has made performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to life in prison, she is rethinking her plans.

“Do I pursue my education in a state where I want to be ideally, but it’s going to potentially undercut me and not make me as prepared as a physician for my patients? Or do I leave?” Flores said.

1 in 3 American women have already lost abortion access. More restrictive laws are coming.

In a post-Roe

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The Lifelong Friendship behind Astonishing $100 Million Gift to BU’s Medical School | BU Today

Edward Avedisian (left) and Aram V. Chobanian (Hon.’06) at the celebration announcing the Aram V. Chobanian & Edward Avedisian School of Medicine on September 29, 2022. Photo by Jackie Ricciardi

Giving

Alumni clarinetist’s philanthropy and humility results in the BU Aram V. Chobanian & Edward Avedisian School of Medicine

Two Armenian families finding freedom in America.

Two boys growing up poor a few doors apart in hardscrabble Pawtucket, R.I.

Two successful men—one a renowned cardiologist and former president of Boston University, the other a celebrated clarinetist for the Boston Pops—changing the course of Boston University history.

Lifelong friends Aram V. Chobanian (Hon.’06) and Edward Avedisian (CFA’59,’61) will now be connected forever as the namesakes of BU’s medical school. Thanks to a $100 million gift from Avedisian that will support scholarships, endowed faculty chairs, and cutting-edge research and teaching, the school is being renamed the Boston University Aram V. Chobanian & Edward Avedisian School of Medicine

University President Robert A. Brown called it “one of the most remarkable grants in the history of higher education” at a private signing ceremony at his residence in late August to accept the gift and formalize the school’s name change. 

The gift was announced to the public on Thursday at the school, before invited guests under a tent on Talbot Green, where both men shared the podium with Brown, Ahmass Fakahany, BU Board of Trustees chair, and Karen Antman, dean of the medical school and provost of the Medical Campus. Avedisian received a standing ovation and cheers before the sign with the new name was unveiled.

“This is a historic day for the medical school and for Boston University,” Brown said. The gift “gives an extra tailwind and boost to our aspirations that will benefit so many,” Fakahany said.

Avedisian and Chobanian donned ballcaps and white medical coats emblazoned with the new name. “With this white coat, I’m ready to see patients,” Chobanian said to laughter.

Avedisian is retired after nearly four decades of playing the clarinet with the Boston Pops and the Boston Ballet Orchestra. But it was the stunning success of his personal investments that afforded him the opportunity to give back to others. He has never forgotten his parents’ hard work and sacrifice, or the emphasis they placed on education, and he became a generous philanthropist to both the United States and Armenia in his later years. “I felt very

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Amazon will get One particular Professional medical in its latest health care endeavor : NPR

Amazon claimed it will obtain the main treatment group One particular Clinical for $3.9 billion.

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Amazon claimed it will obtain the primary treatment business Just one Health-related for $3.9 billion.

Michael Sohn/AP

Amazon ideas to purchase the main treatment corporation A single Medical in a almost $4 billion offer, introducing to the expanding record of the tech giant’s acquisitions and attempts to develop its attain in the well being care marketplace.

“We believe health and fitness treatment is high on the checklist of activities that need to have reinvention,” Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Companies, explained in a assertion final week.

A person Health-related is a membership-based mostly main care follow with virtually 200 locations throughout the place that also offers virtual expert services. The firm had about 767,000 member individuals as of May perhaps.

“There is an enormous option to make the well being care knowledge much more accessible, affordable, and even pleasurable for clients, providers, and payers,” Amir Dan Rubin, One Medical’s CEO, explained in a statement.

The offer, which regulators and A single Medical’s shareholders even now need to have to approve, marks Amazon’s most significant health care acquisition nonetheless. But Amazon’s ambitions in well being treatment go back again many years.

Amazon by now has a foothold in wellbeing care. One particular Professional medical provides it a larger physical presence

Amazon’s acquisition of One Healthcare has some similarities to its buy of Full Food items in 2017.

“In excess of the previous couple a long time, Amazon has been in the same way striving to get into health treatment mostly with electronic interactions,” Dr. Aaron Neinstein, a electronic wellness professional who potential customers electronic overall health records implementation at the University of California, San Francisco, advised NPR.

“I imagine this signifies their similar need as Entire Foods to have a actual physical spot where by they can have a health and fitness care interaction with their patients or customers which is obtainable in most big American metropolitan areas,” Neinstein said.

This is only the latest of the firm’s health treatment ventures.

Amazon acquired the on the web pharmacy business PillPack for $753 million in 2018 and introduced Amazon Pharmacy in 2020 as a prescription and delivery assistance.

The business partnered with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to sort Haven — a nonprofit wellness treatment business

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