Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Common Sense Family Doctor in 2012: a preview

I thought about titling this post "All I Wanted For Christmas was Common Sense Family Doctor," but decided that it was presumptuous to assume you would prefer reading a collection of my blog posts to receiving, say, a new IPad, Nook, or Kindle Fire. (For readers who want both types of gifts, I hope to make Common Sense Family Doctor available on those e-readers at some point in the future, as well as in a more traditional book format.)

Here is a sneak preview of a few topics that I plan to write about after the New Year:

1) Costs and charges of health care - As you may know if you have been reading this blog from the beginning, the hospital bill for my second child (a normal spontaneous vaginal delivery) was $8,569.27, a staggering sum of money that the hospital couldn't begin to explain in an itemized bill, and of which our then-health insurance company ultimately wrote off more than 40 percent and we paid $100. Now that my wife is covered by health insurance with a 20 percent deductible on all medical services other than preventive care (alas, though the Institute of Medicine has decreed that pregnancy prevention counts as preventive care, bringing a new life into the world does not), we're naturally very interested in what the bill for our soon-arriving third child might be. I'll detail our extensive efforts to pin down the same hospital on  its usual maternity care charges, and explain why it's so hard in the current health financing environment for patients to get any straight answers about health care costs.

2) Dissecting American Health Care - I first met former Assistant Surgeon General and current RTI International Chief Scientist Doug Kamerow, MD while precepting Family Medicine residents at the Fort Lincoln Family Medicine Center seven years ago, and since then he's written dozens of short essays for National Public Radio and BMJ on a variety of health care-related topics, now collected into a terrific book that was recently reviewed by patient advocate Jessie Gruman at the Prepared Patient Forum. I'll review highlights from my favorite Kamerow commentaries and explain how his perspectives point the way toward future reforms of our broken health system.

3) Cancer and the media - Building on a cancer screening talk that I gave to reporters at the National Press Foundation a few weeks ago, I will explore the pitfalls of reporting on cancer news and ways to improve communication about the latest research findings on screening tests and treatments to the public. Gary Schwitzer's recently renamed Health News Watchdog Blog has covered much of this territory already, but I hope to add some unique contributions to the dialogue from my experiences as a practicing family physician, teacher, researcher, and consumer health blogger.

My very best to you and yours for a happy and healthy 2012!

Kenny Lin, MD