Monthly Archives: February 2017

A Cancer Diagnosis: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Take the time to ask yourself these important questions.

Facing cancer is one of life’s biggest stresses.  Your mind and your heart seem to race in a thousand different directions all at once.  And everyone has a story or an opinion.  You don’t know who or what to believe. 

So it’s important to settle down and take some time alone to answer some questions BEFORE you talk to your cancer doctor.

 1.  Do I really understand what’s going on with my cancer? 

2. Where can I get information about what is likely to be ahead of me?  And how much information do I really want? 

3.  What are my biggest fears and worries about the future? 

4. How much am I willing to go through in order to gain more time? 

5. How much does my family really know about my wishes? 

That checklist is an important first start.  I’d recommend trying to answer these questions for yourself.  I know it’s difficult.  But at the end of the day, only you know what is best for you. 

If you have any questions about your cancer diagnosis or treatment, please feel free to call me, Dr. Edward Hughes, at 855-Dayton 1.  I guarantee that I will see you in consultation within 1-3 days of your call.

Medical Costs: Still a Guessing Game?

The same drug, the same procedure, the same test but prices can vary greatly depending on who provides the service. Patients have a RIGHT to know the price so they can make smart choices or set up a payment plan.

Any consumer knows that the secret to staying on a budget is comparing prices when you shop.  In today’s world, the internet gives us excellent resources to do this easily. We search for the best price. That’s easier said than done in America’s Health Care System, where the prices for doctor visits, diagnostic tests and surgical treatments can be hard to find out in advance. 

Only 14 of 50 states in America have laws that call for “Price Transparency” – knowing the cost of care before it’s done. 

Now President Trump has proposed “Price Transparency” for all healthcare providers.  The goal is to help patients shop around for a CT scan, MRI scan, or even a hip replacement; the same way they shop for food, clothing, and shelter. 

Ohio politicians also dipped their toes in the “Price Transparency” swamp.  The Ohio House of Representatives and Senate unanimously passed the Healthcare Transparency Law in June 2015.  Gov. Kasich promptly signed the bill shortly thereafter. 

But the Ohio Hospital Association (OHA), joined by the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA), had a judge issue an order preventing the law from going into effect on January 1, 2017-an astounding 18 months after it was enacted. In 18 months, these groups could not establish regulations that insurers agreed upon. Everyone is looking out for themselves regardless of what is best for the patient.

All parties involved have given lip service to this Healthcare Transparency Law yet it has been legally blocked from taking effect. They claim the problem is lack of  available information because of too many contracts with different prices.  It’s hard to believe that Big Hospitals do not know the upfront costs of their own CT scans, cardiac stress tests or hip replacements.  It just does not ring true.

Smaller practices typically use the same 25 medical codes, so they should be able to easily create a cost estimator for those top codes. The patient will need to understand that this is simply an estimate. Once the claim is filed the insurance carrier could leave more or less responsibility to the patient.  A reasonable percentage of variance should be easy to establish. Typically an estimate is just that – it could vary 5% more or 5% less.

There’s just no need to keep healthcare prices a guessing game.  Our Governor, The Honorable John Kasich, needs to hear from you.

Governor Kasich can be reached at 614-466-3555. Call him or his staff and tell them how you feel about this issue. Your voice really does matter. 

And don’t just stop there.  Next time you are at a doctor’s office or getting a CT scan or having surgery, ask what your out-of-pocket cost will be.  You do have time to shop around.  Medical costs should not be a guessing game any longer. 

I know what I am talking about.  First Dayton Cancer Care has been providing upfront, out-of-pocket cost for patients since opening in 2003.  It is just the right thing to do. 

If you have any questions about your cancer, its diagnosis or its treatment, call me, Dr. Edward Hughes, at 855-DAYTON1.

Can Smokers Kick One Habit but Pick up Another?

I am asking smokers to add another habit to their lives. Only this one is a good habit!

On February 2, 2017 a research letter in the prestigious medical journal JAMA Oncology reported that only 3 to 4% of smokers underwent a low-dose CT scan to find a new lung cancer in 2010.  And the response was much the same in 2015: 3.3% in 2010 versus 3.9% in 2015.

Dr. Jemal, the senior researcher of the JAMA Oncology study, said “We estimated that by 2015 there would be 6.8 million smokers eligible for screening, but only 262,000 were screened.”

CT Scans Can Save Smokers’ Lives

In 2017, lung cancer will kill 160,000 Americans.  Most smokers, about 85% in fact, are diagnosed when their lung cancer is inoperable or has spread to other critical organs, like the liver, brain, or bone.  With stage III or stage IV disease, there is little hope for cure or even survival beyond a few years.  When diagnosed early, lung cancer is highly curable with surgery or with a noninvasive technique called stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SBRT), like that delivered by CyberKnife.

In 2011, the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) showed that screening current or former smokers with low-dose CT scans could save 30,000 Americans each and every year.  But we’re far from that goal. 

Is the Glass Half Empty or Half-Full?

I think a response of 3-4% is actually pretty good.  Why do I say so?  The best marketers out there tell me that a “good response” to direct marketing is just 0.1 to 0.25% – over 20 times lower than the success rate for screening smokers for lung cancer with low-dose CT scans.

Let’s face it.  It is difficult to get people’s attention.  Americans are bombarded by information every day-from TV, newspapers, and the Internet.

In the JAMA Oncology article, Dr. Jemal seemed to point the finger at uninsured patients, Medicaid patients, and even family doctors who may be unaware of the power of low-dose CT scans for screening for early stage lung cancer.

Dr. Jemal said “Screening requires a lot of things. First you have to educate the physicians and the patients and half of your patients are not covered by Medicare,” as reported by AuntMinnie.com

The First Dayton Cancer Care Solution

At First Dayton Cancer Care, a low dose CT scan for screening current or past smokers costs only $99.  And we’ll also see if your insurance covers the cost.  Many private insurance carriers do.

The CT scan is painless-no injections or needles-and takes only a few minutes of your time.

It’s never too late to stop smoking. But I’m asking smokers to kick the habit and take up another. I’m urging them to get in the habit of a yearly screening CT scan for lung cancer.

The response to the Federal Government’s low-dose CT scan screening for lung cancer has been a start, but one that I would not call good.  My conclusion, to paraphrase Prime Minister Nehru, is that our approach needs to be better.

If you have any questions about screening for lung cancer or other cancers, please feel free to call me, Dr. Edward Hughes, at 855-Dayton1.