The Hidden $700 Billion Debt Owed to Public Workers – Hit & Run : Reason.com

September 22, 2017

Connecticut, for example. Last year’s state budget (the current state budget is still being hammered out) projected $731 million to cover health care costs for retired state employees in 2017, compared to just $698 million for the health care costs of current employees.

Because Connecticut failed to save-up for the long-term costs of their retirees, state taxpayers are now paying more money to cover the costs of people who aren’t providing any government services—because they are retired—than for people who actually are.

Source: The Hidden $700 Billion Debt Owed to Public Workers – Hit & Run : Reason.com

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Medicare-For-All Would Increase, Not Save, Administrative Costs

September 20, 2017

In a previous report, I found that Medicare’s administrative costs amounted to about $509 per primary beneficiary, and private plan administrative costs were about $453 per beneficiary. That means, in effect, that private health plans’ administrative costs were about 10 percent lower than Medicare’s. However, Medicare spends more on actual medical care (payments to hospitals, doctors, and other health care providers), so if you expressed administrative cost as a percentage of total costs (administrative plus medical), you’d get 6 percent for Medicare and 13 percent for private health plans – a result that is exactly backwards.

Source: Medicare-For-All Would Increase, Not Save, Administrative Costs


2017’s City Uninsured Rates | WalletHub®

September 15, 2017

The national uninsured rate is on an upward trend this year, following a record low of 8.6 percent in the first quarter of 2016, according to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But how widely do the rates differ from city to city?

With U.S. health-care reform still in limbo, WalletHub’s analysts measured the uninsured rates for 547 U.S. cities and broke them down even further by age, income level and race. In addition, we conducted the same analysis at the state level. Read on for the complete ranking, a ranking by city size and a full description of our methodology.

Source: 2017’s City Uninsured Rates | WalletHub®


Congress’ illegal and egregious Obamacare exemption, explained

September 12, 2017

Contrary to assurances and in violation of federal law, the Obama administration shielded lawmakers from an effective pay cut of up to $12,000 each by granting Congress several types of special treatment unavailable to the public. It deemed Congress eligible to participate in D.C.’s small-business exchange, though both federal and D.C. law prohibit it. That form of special treatment gave rise to another: It made Congress the only large employer in the country that can make tax-free contributions toward its employees’ exchange-plan premiums. The act of issuing those payments conflicts with other federal laws, and bestows yet another form of special treatment on Congress: Members of Congress and their staff are the only group of federal workers who receive FEHBP premium contributions for non-FEHBP coverage.

Source: Congress’ illegal and egregious Obamacare exemption, explained


What Does It Cost to Create a Cancer Drug? Less Than You’d Think – The New York Times

September 12, 2017

What does it really cost to bring a drug to market? For years, the standard figure has been supplied by researchers at the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development: $2.7 billion each, in 2017 dollars. Yet a new study looking at 10 cancer medications, among the most expensive of new drugs, has arrived at a much lower figure: a median cost of $757 million per drug. (Half cost less, and half more.)


States Lift More Hurdles To Physician Assistants

September 9, 2017

“In 2016, every state made at least one PA-positive change to their laws or regulations (and) this tidal wave of support is continuing in 2017,” Jenna Dorn CEO of the American Academy of PAs said of the myriad legislative and regulatory changes. “State and federal lawmakers recognize the value of the PA profession and understand that removing outdated PA practice barriers enhances patient access to care.”

Source: States Lift More Hurdles To Physician Assistants


Insurer Market Power Lowers Prices In Numerous Concentrated Provider Markets

September 7, 2017

Using prices of hospital admissions and visits to five types of physicians, we analyzed how provider and insurer market concentration—as measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI)—interact and are correlated with prices. We found evidence that in the range of the Department of Justice’s and Federal Trade Commission’s definition of a moderately concentrated market (HHI of 1,500–2,500), insurers have the bargaining power to reduce provider prices in highly concentrated provider markets. In particular, hospital admission prices were 5 percent lower and cardiologist, radiologist, and hematologist/oncologist visit prices were 4 percent, 7 percent, and 19 percent lower, respectively, in markets with high provider concentration and insurer HHI above 2,000, compared to such markets with insurer HHI below 2,000. We did not find evidence that high insurer concentration reduced visit prices for primary care physicians or orthopedists, however. The policy dilemma that arises from our findings is that there are no insurer market mechanisms that will pass a portion of these price reductions on to consumers in the form of lower premiums. Large purchasers of health insurance such as state and federal governments, as well as the use of regulatory approaches, could provide a solution.

Source: Insurer Market Power Lowers Prices In Numerous Concentrated Provider Markets