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Patients say they would pay more quickly with online access

Patients suggest that if physicians want to improve their collections, they should provide online access. An Intuit Health survey found that patients often are late in paying not because they don't have the money, but because they are confused about their bills. The survey said e-mailing questions and paying online would correct the delay quickly. This would reduce the administrative costs physicians run up by sending multiple mailings to collect one bill, said Warwick Charlton, MD, vice president and chief medical officer for Intuit Health. "Even though there's anxiety about the total costs that they face in health care, the availability of online payment as an option is something that many of them would use," Dr. Charlton said. "And I think that's because it helps their sense of control and visibility and probably ties more directly back to the event" they are paying for. 70% concerned about bills The Intuit Health Second Annual Health Care Check-up Survey of 1,000 American ...

Universal coverage may not eliminate health disparities

The 32 million Americans expected to obtain insurance coverage by 2019 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are likely to have better access to health care. But if Canada's experience is any guide, disparities in health outcomes will continue. Researchers followed 14,800 Canadian patients over 10 years and studied their use of health care services and health outcomes. Although all the patients were insured under Canada's single-payer health system, health outcomes varied by patients' income and educational levels, said a study in the February issue of Health Affairs. "There is evidence out there that giving people who are uninsured some health insurance coverage will reduce disparities," said David A. Alter, MD, PhD, the study's lead author. "The word of caution is that will not eliminate disparities." The high-income patients studied were 65% less likely to die during the 10-year study period than the low-income patients. Meanwhile, highly educated patients' m ...

Most parents agree: Test children for smoke exposure

The majority of parents agree that children should be tested for tobacco smoke exposure during primary care visits, according to a study published online March 21 in Pediatrics. The study found that of 477 smoking and nonsmoking parents, 60% say children should be tested for smoke exposure as part of pediatric exams. Among smoking parents, 62% agreed with having children tested. No surveys previously measured parental acceptance of tobacco smoke exposure tests in the context of children's health care visits, according to the study ( The findings dispel a misconception that parents who smoke would not want their children tested for tobacco exposure, said study author Jonathan P. Winickoff, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. "One of the barriers to testing kids for tobacco is: 'Maybe it will alienate parents who smoke,' " he said. "I think that's why the result ...