Policy & Practice


Egg-Donor Pay Less than $5K

Despite some advertisements offering $25,000-$50,000 for egg donations, a new national survey finds that the average compensation for an egg donor was $4,216 among clinics affiliated with the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). The results are based on a survey of SART clinics conducted last year and published in the May issue of Fertility and Sterility. The highest payments were in the East, Northeast, and West, with the average compensation in those regions at about $5,000. However, some clinics reported much higher levels of compensation. One clinic in the West reported a maximum payment of $15,000 and two programs in the East/Northeast region reported payments as high as $10,000. The survey was completed by 207 of the 394 SART clinics; 16 of the responding clinics did not have an ovum donor program. In 2000, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine's ethics committee issued a position paper on financial incentives for oocyte donors which stated that compensation of more than $5,000 requires justification and payments of more than $10,000 are not appropriate. “As physicians, we want to help our patients get the therapies they need to overcome their infertility,” Dr. David Grainger, SART president, said in a statement. “But we also need to assure them we are following the highest ethical standards while providing that care.”

Contraceptive Coverage for oregon

With Gov. Ted Kulongoski's signature on a new piece of legislation, Oregon joined more than 20 other states in requiring coverage for contraceptives by employee health insurance plans. The new law, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2008, exempts certain religious employers from the requirement. The law also requires hospitals to inform victims of sexual assault about the availability of emergency contraception and requires hospital staff to provide it upon request. “This fight is fundamentally about women being able to make the best health care decisions for themselves and their families,” Gov. Kulongosk, a Democrat, said in a statement. “With the signing of this bill into law, we continue our ongoing work to expand personal freedom and offer women full equality in our society.”

Stem Cell Victory in California

The California Supreme Court last month cleared the way for the state to use bond funding to pay for a large-scale stem cell research initiative. The state's highest court refused to hear an appeal challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 71, the 2004 ballot initiative that called for spending $3 billion for stem cell research. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state agency that is managing the initiative, has already issued $158 million in grants financed through state loans and private funds. With the Supreme Court action, the agency can now pay back those loans and move forward with the next round of funding.

Gender Differences in Care

Women with heart disease and diabetes are less likely to receive several types of routine outpatient care than are men who have similar health problems, according to a Rand Corporation study published in the May/June edition of the journal Women's Health Issues. Researchers studied more than 50,000 men and women, examining 11 different screening tests, treatments, or measurements of health status. Among people in commercial plans, women were significantly less likely than were men to receive the care evaluated in 6 of the 11 measures, while women enrolled in Medicare managed care plans were less likely to receive the care evaluated in 4 of the 11 measures. The largest disparity found by researchers was that women were less likely to lower their cholesterol to recommended levels after suffering a heart attack or other acute cardiac event, or if they had diabetes.

U.S. Scores Last on Health Care

The United States again ranked last among six nations studied by the Commonwealth Fund on health access, safety, efficiency, and equity measures of health care, the Washington think tank reported. The study, “Mirror, Mirror,” draws on survey responses from primary care physicians and from data from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System scorecard, and pits the U.S. health system against those in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The United States outperformed all other nations on preventive care delivery but lagged behind on health care information technology and on coordinating chronic disease care. In addition, U.S. patients were more likely than were their peers to forgo treatment because of high costs, the study found.

Adults Disregard MDs' Orders

Forty-four percent of U.S. adults say they or an immediate family member have ignored a doctor's course of treatment or sought a second opinion because they felt the doctor's orders were unnecessary or overly aggressive, according to a survey. Most adults reported that they didn't view disregarding a doctor's recommendations as problematic or consequential. Only 1 in 10 adults who chose to disregard a physician's instructions at some time believes that he, she, or a family member experienced problems because of this decision. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive for the Wall Street Journal Online's health industry edition, also found that a large majority of adults think patients who have medical conditions often experience problems because of overtreatment as well as undertreatment by medical providers.

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