News & Information
WellnessWatchers MD and the BBB
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 03:26 PM

Individually, an unauthorized charge of less than $20 might easily go unnoticed by a consumer. When it happens many times, people begin to take notice.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin found five businesses with similar unauthorized billing complaints. BBB discovered these businesses all related to diet services: Diet Instructor MD (www.dietinstructormd.com), Health Leader MD (www.healthleader.com), Slender Guide MD (www.slenderguidemd.com), Diet Leader MD (www.dietleadermd.com) and Lean Inspiration MD (www.leaninspiration.com). Consumers say they never signed up with the businesses and never visited their websites.

A BBB investigator did find those businesses online and also found advertising issues with all five websites, which have similar layout and content. BBB asked the businesses to clarify offers of personal advice “from a doctor or M.D.” that were contradicted by a disclaimer, “The site does not provide medical advice.” None of the five businesses responded to BBB’s requests to modify or support their claims.

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Has Use of Testosterone Become Abusive?
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 11:23 AM

Do current prescribing practices for testosterone constitute abuse?  Both sides of the testosterone issue stated their cases during a first-ever Crossfire session at the American Urological Association meeting. Citing data and clinical guidelines and interspersing their remarks with a little humor, speakers at the AUA forum offered their take on the reasons behind the growing use of testosterone, the one point on which the two sides agreed.

Testing has failed to keep pace with the number of prescriptions.  An increase in the number of new prescriptions for testosterone logically should be accompanied by an increase in tests for serum testosterone levels. Instead, "a terrible issue" has emerged, as the frequency of testing has decreased or remained flat, at best.  "A large number of men who have normal testosterone levels are initiating testosterone therapy."

One speaker pointed to a recent report showing that more than 12% of American men 18 to 39 use testosterone.  What we are starting to see is iatrogenic infertility.  The Endocrine Society guideline states that testosterone should be prescribed only when medical indications exist.  There are too many signs and symptoms that one can ascribe to medical conditions of all kinds, including lifestyle concerns.

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Temporary Fee on Big Business Funds Obamacare
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 10:44 AM

The government collects $63 from large self-insured employers and insurance companies for every covered life under a plan, which includes each employee and each dependent it insures.  And it's a burden employers aren't carrying alone. Mercer also found that most large employers are requiring workers to pay part of the ACA fees.

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Medicaid Directors Question Need for $1,000 HCV Pill
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 08:26 AM

Under the "wow" category of news add this report:

The evidence base for one of the star hepatitis C drugs is poor and the guidelines for its use are flawed, according to a report prepared for the National Association of Medicaid Directors.  According to the report, studies of sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) are generally of poor quality, mostly directed by the drug's maker, and don't answer key questions, including whether the drug is better and safer than the current standard of care.  The only available guidelines for its use -- guidelines created by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Infectious Diseases Society of America -- are "methodologically flawed," according to the report, which was prepared by the Center for Evidence-Based Policy at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.  In addition, their authors and sponsors had "multiple and significant conflicts of interest," the report argued.

Sofosbuvir is widely regarded as the leading edge of a new wave of hepatitis C virus (HCV) drugs which promise routine cures for what is now a difficult-to-treat and costly illness.  But the drug has been controversial because Gilead has set the price high — $1,000 a pill. The drug is taken once daily and a course of treatment can last 12 or 24 weeks — $84,000 or $168,000, respectively.  The total cost would be higher, since other drugs must be used and treatment monitored carefully.

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MDs Among Top Five Coding Abusers
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 08:09 AM

When people think of seeing a doctor, generally the first thing that comes to mind is an office visit. But not all visits are the same.  Doctors get paid more for more complex visits. Office visits for established patients are billed across five levels.  Three California Medical Doctors are among the top five nationally in billing for the most complex office visits, according to data released by Medicare.  

Most doctors' billing patterns to the Medicare program fall in the middle ground between simple and complex.  In California, only 5% of doctors' office visits for Medicare patients were billed at the highest level in 2012. It is unusual for doctors to determine -- and bill -- a large proportion of their office visits as complex.  The analysis of Medicare billing data -- which was made public for the first time last month -- shows that three California doctors are among the top five nationally in billing for the highest number of the most complex office visits. In addition, they tended to bill at the highest level significantly more frequently than peers in their specialty.

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