Sunday, July 26, 2009

Healthcare Reform - Is it Gloom and Doom for Seniors?

July 26, 2009

Healthcare Reform - Is it Gloom and Doom for Seniors?

I apologize in advance if the purpose of this newsletter is once again reform, but with the daily debates in Washington about overhauling the healthcare system, I feel I have no choice.

Let me be clear.

Our healthcare system needs reform, but the reform must start at home and not in Washington. I founded the Institute For Medical Wellness because the present third party insurance, government and corporate dominance of our healthcare system is unsustainable and detrimental to high quality patient-centered care. I removed myself from the system to be able to provide the patient-centered care that you deserve, not the care that a insurance or government bureaucrat feels you are worth. The present reform bills in Washington, both House and Senate, are focused not on improving care, but on controlling costs by putting more roadblocks into obtaining medical care. These reform proposals aim to incrementally and permanently move individuals and businesses into a government controlled system. This has already been tried in Massachusetts and Tennessee and has not worked, with the costs of the programs and waiting time for medical care both rising exponentially. When government medical costs rise, taxes rise and rationing of care soon follows. In a freer market based system, where individuals have more control of their healthcare decisions and dollars, medical costs and waiting times decrease as medical innovation increases. As costs decrease, care becomes more affordable and accessible to all. Look to the car industry. The cost of a new car today is about the cost of a new car a decade ago. This is not due to government intervention, but due to free market economics. On the other hand, Medicare and Medicaid , both government programs that fix costs, thereby not a free market, have had tremendous costs increases.

At the present time, I participate in Traditional Medicare. But the reform proposals aim to change the Medicare system, and not in a way that is good for patient care. When I stopped participating in insurance plans, some of the plans paid me better than Medicare, some worse. I did not risk my practice due to payments from insurers being too low. I dropped the insurers because they were meddling in the care that I needed to provide. Presently Medicare does not have these roadblocks. Under the present reform proposals, that will all change, and I truly fear for the medical care of seniors. Senior citizens will bear the biggest brunt of the reform due to cuts to Medicare of half a trillion dollars over the next ten years. These cuts will happen even though Medicare enrollment is expected to increase by 30% as the "Baby Boomers" become eligible. So how do we improve care, cut the budget to pay for this care, all while having people enrolled in this care increase by 30%? We can not! The math just does not add up!!

No, you have it wrong doc.

That is not what the reform bill is all about.

We will all get access to better healthcare.

Sorry, but that is just political rhetoric. One of the OBama administrations healthcare advisors, Zeke Emmanuel, has written extensively that the elderly should get less care, especially for incurable illnesses such as dementia, because, they "no longer contribute to society." The following is a quote from Dr Emmanuel:

"An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia. A less obvious example Is is guaranteeing neuropsychological services to ensure children with learning disabilities can read and learn to reason."

Sorry Mom and Dad.

Sorry Grandma and Grandpa.

It was nice knowing you !!

Sorry children. You do not deserve the chance to learn to read and reason!!

I am sorry, but this is not reform, and is not the type of healthcare I expect from our country! This is a planned political medical power grab and medical rationing by the government. Any other conclusions or statements to the contrary is rhetoric, outright lies and deceptions.

There are better ways that benefit individuals and business of all size to better afford medical care, while keeping medical freedoms. Some proposals I agree with are listed below:

1) Allow individuals and small businesses to band together to negotiate better rates with insurance companies.
2) Allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines. This will increase cost competition and hopefully end state mandates that lead to higher insurance rates.
3) Allow individuals the same tax deductibility for health insurance and healthcare that businesses now enjoy.
4) Decrease defensive medical costs by passing tort reform. Many doctors order tests that may be unnecessary for fear of getting sued. Patient's truly injured by medical malpractice will still be able to sue for damages, but the frivolous lawsuits must be ended.
5) We need more HSA's, (Health Savings Accounts), tied to higher deductible or catastrophic insurance policies. These policies are much, much cheaper than present policies, allow tax free savings for medical care, and protect from medical bankruptcies. It also puts the power of the healthcare decision making and the power of the healthcare dollar back in the hands of the patient, and away from insurers and government bureaucrats.
6) End pre-existing condition clauses in health insurance.
7) Make health insurance portable and not tied to employment. If individuals are allowed to band together as a group to negotiate better insurance rates, why do we need employers to do it for us? Allow employers to give employees, as part of their compensation package, tax free money to purchase their own coverage, if they do not like the coverage offered by their employer. If the government wants to help, they can cover part of the costs of coverage if an individual is between jobs.

There are many other suggestions for reform, the key point in reform is to allow the power of healthcare to remain with the individual, and not a government or third party. If the present reform package becomes law, I truly fear for the health of our country! We need reform that will restore the doctor-patient relationship as the predominant factor in healthcare!! Ask yourself, "Who do you trust to help you make healthcare decisions? Your doctor or Washington politicians??

If you care about healthcare choice and healthcare freedom, I strongly urge that you visit the following website, , which contains more in-depth information on the present reform proposals. Please do not be left on the sideline, or say it is too late to stop these reforms. You may agree or disagree with the views on the above website, but you need to be informed, and make certain that your political representatives hear from you!

Steven Horvitz, D.O.
Board Certified Family Practice
Founder of The Institute For Medical Wellness
128 Borton Landing Road, Suite Two
Moorestown, NJ 08057
Phone 856-231-0590
Fax 856-294-0311

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You call that Healthcare Reform???

July 21, 2009

We are all hearing alot of hubbub about healthcare reform.

This is too important a topic, so let me speak on this subject for just a moment.

First a little background. I grew up in my father's medical office, back in the 70's when an office visit was $8 and when you paid your bill, you left with a smile and a lollypop. I watched these interactions with patient's. I saw trust and confidence that the doctor-patient interaction was always all about the patient. There were no third party intermediaries.

Fast-forward to 2009. The healthcare system has changed. Some have said the sytem has been stolen by special interests. Physicians and hospitals, in agreeing to work with government and private insurance plans, have all but given up control of the healthcare system. When in the 70's, medical decisions were made by the doctor and the patient, now these decisions need to go through bureaucratic entanglements that place your medical care outside the scope of your physcian. The doctor-patient interaction has now become the doctor-insurer-bureaucrat-actuary-patient interaction.

For example:

If you need an MRI, it is no longer as simple as getting a doctor's prescription, making the appointment and getting it done. Now, the MRI "request" has to be pre-authorized by your insurance plan. You can not make the appointment until this pre-authorization has occured. This pre-authorization is just one set of guidelines that slow down the acquisition of care, and in many cases deny it altogether. Your insurance plan is not examining you, yet is somehow is able to deny you care your doctor wants you to have!

If you need a prescription medication that is not generic, most likely it will not be "On Formulary". This means that you have no coverage for this medication and your insurer will offer to switch to a cheaper drug, all to save money for the insurance plan. What if using an alternative insurance approved medicine does not work, and you end up worse, or even needing hospitalization? Saving money is wonderful, if it is effective and in the best interests of each individual patient. But these rules are not for patient's benefit, but for the benefit of the power holding the dollar, in this case, the insurance plan.

Insurance companies AND government regulators are playing doctor with your health. They have power and control over how your healthcare dollar is spent. Your insurer's goal is to make a profit off of your insurance premiums and to spend as little as possible, even if it means delaying or denying care. The government's goal is to spend as little as possible and meddle in your healthcare decisions to attain that objective. Now, I have no problem with saving money. There is a lot of waste in healthcare. But this waste began when the third parties, the government and health insurers inserted themselves into the medical decision making process. If our system is ever to change for the better, we need these third parties out of our exam rooms. We need health insurance to once again be insurance, that covers large bills, or catastrophic costs, so medical illness will never cause one to lose their home. We do not need them in our exam rooms telling doctors and patient's what tests to run or what treatment to prescribe.

The supermajority of doctor's are for reform of the present system. We want to get back to where decisions are made solely between doctor's and patient's. While I can not speak for all doctor's, I can speak for myself. In fact I did it with my pen and my feet 2 years ago, when I terminated my contracts with insurers, and founded The Institute For Medical Wellness. This was the only way I knew to be able to work solely for you, without any third party intruder. Many more doctor's are now starting to follow my lead.

You may have heard that the AMA (American Medical Association) has given their support to the present healthcare bill going through committees in Congress. Let me make it known that I have never been a member of the AMA, and I do NOT support the present bills. These bills give more power to bureaucrats, and less to patients and doctors and will only make the system worse and more costly. The AMA, unfortunately, is a political organization, that does not necessarily represent doctor's, but actually represents it's own corporation. The AMA makes millions of dollars selling and licensing medical coding books to sell to doctor's and hospitals. These coding books contribute to the massive overhead of the present third party system. So any reformed system that continues this coding system, will benefit the AMA's corporation, thus their apparent support of the present reforms being debated. Physician's have finally wised up and are quitting the AMA in droves. A recent poll on Sermo, a doctor's only website, has over 94% of physicians against the present healthcare reform package. So when you hear in the media that doctors are for the present reform package, it is untrue. The AMA does not speak for nor represent physicians.

If healthcare reform is to work, patient's and physicians must unite. If healthcare reform is to work, the power of the healthcare dollar needs to be returned to individuals. Health insurance must once again be insurance, and not healthplans with thousands of strings attached. Patient's must have choices in insurance and physicians. Third party involvement in the exam room must end! Unfortunately, the present reform bills want the opposite, less patient choice, more third party bureaucracy, and decreased patient-physician autonomy. Too much power of the healthcare dollar in the hands of any third party, whether it be an insurer or government agency will harm our system beyond repair.

There is a better way, and it is why in 2008 I started The Institute For Medical Wellness. We act as your personal health advocate, not that of your insurance company. You receive personalized, individualized care without regards to any third party. We are an independent practice committed to offering the absolute best care- without compromise.

Now to get off my soapbox, I would like to announce a new offer at The Institute For Medical Wellness. As many of you already know, Julie Fischer has been providing therapeutic massage services for the past few months. She would like to extend a special birthday offer. A one hour massage is regularly $70. But during your birthday month, you can receive this 1 hour massage for only $45. We are confident that once you have tried Julie's massage, you will come back for more.

I would also like to remind you of our new Wellness Plans, which may include holistic, nutritional, and heart healthy options. They can be found here.

To Good Health!

Steven Horvitz, D.O.
Board Certified Family Practice
Founder of The Institute For Medical Wellness
128 Borton Landing Road, Suite Two
Moorestown, NJ 08057
Phone 856-231-0590
Fax 856-294-0311

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A few extra pounds, Good or Bad ???

July 6, 2009

I came across an interesting article from Reuters news service. My comments will follow.

A few extra pounds can add years to your life: study
Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:04am EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Carrying a little extra weight may actually be good for you, according to a Canadian study that showed a few pounds appear to protect people from an early death. Researchers found that while underweight and extremely obese people die earlier than people of a normal weight, people who are slightly overweight actually live longer than those of a normal weight. The findings of the new study were published online in the journal Obesity by researchers at Statistics Canada, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Portland State University, Oregon Health & Science University, and McGill University.

To read the entire Reuters article...

Interesting study. I read only part of this article the first time I saw it. I was too busy eating my Five Guys Burger and Fries!!

Mmm Mmm Good !!!

But back on topic...

To understand this study better, let me first introduce you to medical definitions from the NIH (National Institutes of Health) that helps to determine if a person is overweight. The method that experts believe is best is to measure a person's body mass index (BMI). BMI is a calculation derived from your height and weight. A calculator to determine your BMI can be found at

Adults with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight. There are exceptions. For example, an athlete may have a higher BMI but not be overweight.

Adults with a BMI greater than 30 are considered obese.

Anyone more than 100 pounds overweight is considered morbidly obese.

My electronic medical record is able to calculate your BMI for you. Just ask the next time you are at the office.

So is evaluating your health as simple as placing you into the following categories of underweight, average, or overweight?

No !!

Does looking like magazine supermodels make us healthy?

I'll answer that for you as well. NO!!! Most supermodels are underweight and even malnourished. Many have eating disorders. So while they may have fame and fortune, they do not necessarily have their "health".

So what does weight have to with health??

First you must answer why I chose this topic for a newsletter?

1) I was bored and felt like writing
2) My daughter is away at overnight camp, which left me with more free time.
3) It is important to advise my practice that while weight management is important for your overall health, the "number of pounds" that you weigh is only one indicator of you overall health.
4) I am trying to promote the idea that health and wellness is more than just monitoring your weight.

The answer is all of the above !!!

At The Institute For Medical Wellness, we use different methods and also different types of healthcare professionals to help you determine your overall health risk factors. Your weight is one factor. Your lab results may be another. What about your diet and exercise? Yes, we use that as well. Family History?? Extremely important!! I could go on and on, but then I may be giving away too many of my trade secrets ; )

But one thing we do, and do well, is think outside the box when it comes to your care. So before you say you are unhealthy and put yourself on a diet to "improve your health", look to The Institute For Medical Wellness to make sure you are on the right track. Our goal has always been to give you individualized, non-biased health guidance, regardless of what the so-called experts or majority say. When we are working with you, only two votes count, ours and yours!!

To Good Health !!!

Steven Horvitz, D.O.
Board Certified Family Medicine
Founder of The Institute For Medical Wellness
128 Borton Landing Road, Suite Two
Moorestown, NJ 08057
Phone 856-231-0590
Fax 856-294-0311