Price transparency picks up speed | Healthcare Finance News

October 23, 2014

It’s no secret that the price transparency movement has picked up speed and become increasingly complicated for all stakeholders. Though over 30 states have passed or proposed legislation to increase price transparency, and released median prices for specific services, many supporters of price transparency have pushed for more detailed data. Specifically, all amounts paid to every provider, for every service, so prices and trends can be tracked more definitively.

This past March, Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute HCI3 and Catalyst for Payment Reform CPR released their second annual Report Card on State Price Transparency Laws. Forty-five states failed and only two were awarded a B.

With these types of developments in mind, the George Washington University’s online master of public health, MPH@GW, recently released Illuminating Health Care Prices: Organizations to Watch, which profiles 14 organizations helping to achieve greater healthcare price transparency through policy as well as various initiatives, resources and tools. Since price transparency is a primary or subsidiary goal for myriad organizations and companies, the list isn’t intended to provide a comprehensive view of the price transparency landscape, but rather to explain the multifaceted hurdles and triumphs of the movement by taking a deep dive into the work that several of these organizations are doing.

via Price transparency picks up speed | Healthcare Finance News.

The Truth About Obamacare

October 23, 2014

Last year, open enrollment in the health insurance exchanges started October 1. This year the start date has been pushed back to November 15. That would be acceptable if there were some administrative or economic reason for the delay. But there appears to be none–other than a desire to keep voters from knowing much about this year’s round of choices before they have to vote.

About 19 states have already required insurers to announce next year’s premiums. Even with that information, people who expect a subsidy will be in the dark until they determine the second lowest price Silver plan–that’s the benchmark for determining subsidies. If that premium goes up, everybody’s subsidy rises. If that premium goes down, everybody’s subsidy falls. Most people won’t be able to do the required calculation on their own. Investor’s Business Daily has determined the net effect for a moderate income individual in various cities. See the chart. The results aren’t pretty

via The Truth About Obamacare.

Jeanne Shaheen’s Dishonest Claim That Obamacare Doesn’t Cut Medicare

October 22, 2014

In last night’s U.S. Senate debate in New Hampshire between incumbent Jeanne Shaheen D. and challenger Scott Brown R., Shaheen uttered a flat-out, bald-faced lie: that Obamacare doesn’t cut Medicare spending to pay for its expansion of coverage to the uninsured. It’s a talking point that a number of Democratic Senate candidates—and their enablers in the lefty blogosphere—have been clinging to. And it’s embarrassingly dishonest.

via Jeanne Shaheen’s Dishonest Claim That Obamacare Doesn’t Cut Medicare.

Medical Progress Report 18 | Health Savings Accounts Under the Affordable Care Act: Challenges and Opportunities for Consumer-Directed Health Plans

October 18, 2014

Initial skepticism from HSA advocates was understandable; but based on our current research, it appears that the Obama administration was true to its word and that HSAs at least for the moment remain widely accessible on public exchanges. The report finds that, far from becoming obsolete under the ACA, high-deductible plans are widely available—98 percent of uninsured Americans have access to at least one HSA-eligible plan. Moreover, these plans also make up about 25 percent of total offerings on Obamacare exchanges. We also found that they remain significantly less expensive than traditional plan designs, offering savings of about 14 percent, on average.

Nonetheless, our analysis indicates that it remains difficult for consumers to identify HSA-eligible plans and that much more could be done to simplify their administration and educate exchange consumers on their advantages and limitations.

via Medical Progress Report 18 | Health Savings Accounts Under the Affordable Care Act: Challenges and Opportunities for Consumer-Directed Health Plans.

The Right To Die

October 7, 2014

Loyal readers know that I have been critical of the claim that the health care systems of other countries are superior to our own. But this is one area where some other countries outperform us in spades. As I wrote at the Health Affairs blog:

  • In Germany and Austria, a cash payment is made to people eligible for long-term care — with few strings attached and little oversight on how the money is used.
  • In England and the Netherlands, the disabled and the elderly manage their own budgets, choosing the services and providers that meet their needs.

via The Right To Die.

Clearing The Air On Obamacare’s Enrollment Statistics

October 7, 2014

A case in point: millions of people with exchange coverage are being encouraged to sit this open season out.  Instead of struggling with another difficult enrollment process, they can simply have their current coverage roll over to next year.  Failing to check the plan options can be a very expensive mistake, which most people will not realize until it is too late.

By failing to look at the new offers, individuals can find themselves inadvertently paying far more than they expect.  The government is encouraging current customers to renew their current plans through auto-enrollment, undoubtedly to ease pressure on fragile exchange web sites.  Many customers will see significant price spikes if the plan they selected for 2014 loses its status as a “benchmark” plan—the second lowest-cost silver plan offered in the local market.

Since subsidies are tied to the benchmark plan, the premiums paid by consumers net of the subsidy depend both on the plan they select and where that plan’s premium ranks among the options.  A benchmark plan for 2014 could be underbid by a competitor, which could double the net premium paid next year by a consumer who fails to check the new prices.

Many people caught in this trap probably will not realize it until their checking accounts are overdrawn next year after a few months of unexpected and unnoticed premium payments.  If the Obama administration wants to avoid another black eye—and if they would like to avoid harming some of their most enthusiastic constituents—they should rethink a strategy designed only to make life easier for the politicians.

via Clearing The Air On Obamacare’s Enrollment Statistics.

Decompositions of health spending growth

October 3, 2014

The consensus finding is that technology growth is a if not the leading driver of health spending growth, though other factors play large rolls too.Another way to decompose health spending growth is explored in a recent study in Health Affairs by Martha Starr, Laura Dominiak, and Ana Aizcorbe. The authors examine the effects on health spending growth of disease prevalence, cost of care per case, and other factors that play smaller roles. They expand the findings of earlier work by Charles Roehrig and David Rousseau who showed that health spending growth between 1996 and 2006 was driven predominantly by the cost of care, not increasing disease prevalence, as shown in the following chart.

via Decompositions of health spending growth.


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