[…] I can see how awareness is a good thing if it encourages people (men and women) to be in tune with their health and current on the screening exams that they and their doctor feel they need. And it’s a reminder to all of us to do whatever we can to provide support to those who have cancer. But what about the people who know that their cancer is terminal? What about those with metastatic breast cancer? Or with another form of advanced cancer like my friend? The people who know that there is almost no chance they will beat the disease, and that their life will almost certainly be cut short by it? Do all the pink ribbons trivialize their deaths? […]
universal health care
Henry Stern of InsureBlog brings us an interview with the whistleblower who has brought a lawsuit against LabCorp for allegedly charging a lower price to United HealthCare than to Medicare. The post is particularly interesting because Hank adds his own thoughts after the interview, and he sees things a little differently than Andrew Baker (the whistleblower). Hank agrees that it does look like LabCorp lowered their fees for UHC […]
[…] In order to attract high-quality health insurance carriers to the exchanges, we have to make sure that the exchanges represent a business environment that is appealing to carriers. We also have to make their appealing and fair to consumers, in order to attract enough people into the exchanges. To work well, the exchanges will need to have a delicate balance between the interests of consumers, providers, and health insurer carriers, with no one group more heavily favored than another.
In a continuation of the string of healthcare-related legislation we’ve seen recently, Colorado Senate Bill 168 was introduced earlier this week. SB 168 would create a nonprofit healthcare cooperative to act as the benefits administrator and payer for health care services in Colorado. Similar to several other healthcare bills we’ve seen over the years, this one would implement change in a multi-step process: first by creating a proposed Colorado Health Care Authority, which would design the cooperative and take it to the legislature and then voters for approval. […]
[…] We cannot continue to tackle the health care mess by focusing on health insurance reform. That has been a large part of the focus of debate over the last couple years, mainly because health insurance is the point at which most people interact with the financial aspects of their health care. But health care costs are what drive health insurance premiums, and there’s no getting around that. It’s refreshing to hear the President of the Colorado Medical Society talking about the need for evidence-based medicine and a general scaling back of what we spend on health care. […]
[…] But is having to wait to see a specialist for a non-emergency situation really that much of a drawback, when we consider that this sort of “rationing” might be what we need to bring our healthcare costs down to a reasonable level (and thus make healthcare more available to more Americans)? Maybe we don’t need MRI machines to be as conveniently-located as ATMs… Our current costs (and the rate at which they are increasing) aren’t really sustainable long-term, and the Healthcare Technology News article is a good reminder of how we stack up against the rest of the world.
[…] While many studies comparing health care around the world tend to look at generalized data like life expectancies and total cost of healthcare, this one was more focused on how healthcare in each country impacts individual people, and whether people are satisfied with their health insurance, personal medical costs, and access to care. […]
[…] We need to make sure everyone has health insurance (first step in expanding access). We need to make sure there are enough primary care physicians (and other care providers) to go around. And then we need a systematic, coordinated effort between health care providers, hospitals, and health insurance carriers to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Expanding access to primary care is part of the solution, but it will only work in tandem with the other parts.
[…] Carol indicated that it was the consensus of everyone she has talked with that $5 billion won’t come close to covering the cost of these high-risk pools in 50 states for four years. She and a number of other Medicaid commissioners are leaning away from expansion or development of new high-risk pools in their states, not for political or philosophical reasons, but because the pools don’t make economic sense. As the federal bill is written, if states don’t act, a federal high risk pool is to be created to fill essentially the same function.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is joining with several other attorneys general who are challenging the legality of the requirement that all Americans carry health insurance, which is part of the bill that President Obama signed into law this morning. Basically, they’re saying that the federal government doesn’t have a constitutional right to compel citizens to take part in any specific market – including health insurance. […]
[…] Yes, we would all have to purchase health insurance under the proposed reform bills. But if we want guaranteed issue universal coverage, and we don’t want the government running the health care system, there isn’t really a way around the requirement that everyone obtain coverage. And yes, we’ll need some additional tax revenues in order to help subsidize health insurance coverage for families who would otherwise be unable to afford it. But I can’t see how these things translate into the federal government running the health care system.
[…] job of convincing people that we really don’t need a lot of the health care services that are currently viewed as essential. 16% of our GDP is spent on health care, tens of millions of Americans have no health insurance and have to rely on free clinics and crowded emergency rooms for care, more than half of all bankruptcies in this country stem from medical problems… all of this, and our life expectancy is only a few weeks longer than that of people in Taiwan.
Ezra Klein recently interviewed George Halvorson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente (which operates our largest HMO here in Colorado). Both the questions and answers were insightful and on target in terms of addressing the cost conundrum that is so often glossed-over in the health care reform debate.
Mr. Halvorson pointed out that while many developed countries have some form of private health insurance, they also have medical fee schedules that are set by the government and are far lower than average costs for the same procedures in the US. When average fees for various medical procedures in several countries are shown on graphs, the US bar looks like a giraffe standing in a herd of gazelles.
But Halvorson acknowledged that while fees in other countries are even lower than Medicare reimbursement amounts here in the US, half of hospitals here are losing money, and do so especially when they treat Medicare patients. So it’s not as simple as just saying that we need to create set fee schedules that are more in line with those of other countries […]
How To Cope With Pain brings us a truly amazing video. It’s a reminder to be thankful for all that we have, and for the things in life (like this video) that inspire us. It’s well worth the five minutes it takes to watch it.
Amy Tenderich of Diabetes Mine shares a “would you rather…?” moment from her 9-year old daughter. It’s a poignant reminder, seen through the eyes of a child, that all of the parts of our lives – even the bad parts – combine to make us who we are […]
Welcome to the Health Wonk Review. 2009 has been an exciting year for health care reform, and last Saturday’s passage of HR3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, has given us plenty to talk about. For anyone who hasn’t kept up on the details of the House reform bill, I want to start things off with a four-part series from Tim Jost, who holds the Robert L Willett Family Professorship of Law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law. His articles were published at Health Affairs Blog, and amount to an excellent primer, written in plain English, for people who want to understand HR3962, but don’t have time to read all 1990 pages […]
I have often wondered about the feasibility of Cover Colorado expanding their eligibility to attract healthier applicants and perhaps improve their loss ratio. The state high risk pool health insurance policy – has claims expenses that far exceed premiums collected. Fees on private health insurance companies and a grant from Medicare help to make up the difference. […]
[…] I agree with Mike that we need to be having more of a discussion here in the US about how to better fund long term care. Private insurance policies work well, for the relatively few people who purchase them. But I think more intensive public education is needed in terms of what is and isn’t covered by Medicare.
[…] Topics like health care reform sometimes become so politically polarized that people start to think of one side as good and the other as bad, with no gray areas in between. Forums that allow multiple, often conflicting, ideas to be shared alongside one another are a great way to get past argument and start to find common ground.
[…] I’m seeing lots of things that would be very beneficial to the clients we serve in Colorado who are purchasing individual health insurance: no underwriting, premiums that are not based on gender or health history, and no caps on benefits. I haven’t yet found any wording about how these changes would be financed though, and that could become a sticking point. […]
[…] would a disproportionate number of sick people join the public system? Or perhaps more healthy people would switch to the public option? Would the premiums increase substantially over the first few years as the new system tried to balance costs? Would people be able to switch back and forth between the public and private systems? A lot remains to be seen. […]
[…] As of 2007, Colorado ranked 33rd in the nation in terms of percentage of working age adults (18 – 64) without health insurance. One in five working-age adults in Colorado is uninsured. My guess is that the majority of those people would love to have health insurance – if they could afford it. Most of the people who don’t have insurance cite cost as the main reason.
[…] As readers of the Colorado Health Insurance Insider know, Insurance markets pool risk. An insurance system will only work if the exposures of low risk individuals are pooled together with the exposures of higher risk individuals. Life insurance, homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance; they all work the same way. If health insurers are required to offer guaranteed access without an effective mandate requiring all Americans to maintain coverage, there would be a clear disincentive for healthy people to secure or maintain coverage. […]
The House has pledged to have a sweeping health care reform bill on the floor by the end of July, and details are starting to come out about the direction they want to take. Requiring everyone to have health insurance coverage is one of the cornerstones of the reform, and I strongly believe that without this piece of the puzzle in place, no reform will truly be effective. […]
I always appreciate it when someone actually throws a potential solution into the mix, rather than just complaining about the way things are/were/will be. The Happy Hospitalist has outlined his ideas for healthcare reform in a comment on his blog. I like his out of the box thinking, and the simplicity. But there are some issues that immediately come to mind […]
[…] Our health care system is built around patients and doctors. Whatever health insurance reforms we consider – here in Colorado, and on a federal level – we need to make sure that we don’t create a system that is so distasteful to providers that they decide they’d rather spend their time doing something else instead of medicine.