Posts Tagged - ‘Medical Health Insurance’

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WellPoint Improves Health Insurance Coverage For Breast Cancer

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Image: wishuponacupcake under CC 3.0

After lots of controversy surrounding their alleged rescission of the policies of breast cancer patients, WellPoint–one of America’s largest health insurance companies–is taking some steps to help patients and rehab their image.

Currently, a federal law is pending that will offer greater consumer protection to these women. However, WellPoint CEO Angela Braly has vowed to implement many of its provisions early, including medical insurance coverage for a voluntary minimum 48-hour hospital stay after a mastectomy.

Whether or not Representative Rosa DeLauro’s Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act passes or falls victim to general anti-healthcare reform sentiment (although its chances look bright–who wants to vote against cancer sufferers during an election year?), WellPoint will take these steps as of July 1st.

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Less Salt = Medical Health Insurance Savings?

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

A recent study by the Institutes of Medicine has found that cutting the average American’s salt intake by just 10% could save up to $32 billion in the cost of medical health insurance.

Excessive sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. $14 billion of the projected savings would come from fewer hospitalizations of people with those conditions. High blood pressure-related diseases cost U.S. health insurance plans over $70 billion annually.

Salt is in many processed foods where you wouldn’t expect or even taste it, such as ketchup. The study’s authors suggest that the food industry take voluntary action. Failing that, they would suggest a government tax on overly salty products–a method that was successful in cutting sodium intake in Great Britain.

(Image: TooFarNorth under CC 3.0)

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Health Insurance Companies Lose Antitrust Exemption

Monday, March 1st, 2010

(Image: jeffschwartz under CC 3.0)

Whether or not major healthcare reform passes this year, the health insurance industry will still see some changes. The House of Representatives recently voted to eliminate health insurance companies’ exemption from antitrust laws.

Health insurers have been exempt from such legislation since World War II (by 1945’s McCarran-Ferguson Act), when the market was mostly made up of regional nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield-type providers. Democrats contend that the loophole has allowed major medical health insurance providers to have regional monopolies. Indeed, there are many areas of the United States where a single health insurance company controls over 50% of the market. It’s very hard to promote competition in such an environment, where the health insurance cost tends to be high.

The bill passed by a margin of 406 to 19. Most representatives of both parties probably considered voting in the health insurance companies’ favor too difficult to justify politically. A handful of Republicans who opposed the bill on the grounds that it would have little impact were accused of being “wholly owned subsidiaries of the health insurance industry”. Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York’s comments were stricken from the official record.

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Outcomes Driven Medicine: UnitedHealthcare Speeds Ahead

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
The buzz in health care for hospitals and health insurance companies these days is outcomes- and evidence-based medicine. If the deepest cost-cutting proposals of health care reform on the table in D.C. come  to pass, doctors, hospitals and essentially any company that delivers direct medical care services could eventually be held to a set of standards set by companies who compile results of controlled research studies about patient protocols and disease management practices that deliver the best possible physical outcome.

Under this system, if a doctor doesn’t follow the protocols, medical health insurance companies don’t pay the bill.

UnitedHealthcare became the first major health carrier to announce its intent to dollect data from doctors and share it amongst all their contracted providers. Beginning today, United’s Oncology Care Analysis is aggregating data from more than 2,600 oncologists and 8,600 patients diagnosed with breast, colon or lung cancer. After the data is analyzed against an alliance of 21 participating U.S. cancer centers, known as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCNN), it’s distributed to United’s network providers as a soft mandate at this point in time, to follow the recommendations when treating patients with similar medical demographics.

United is billing the reports as a way to help improve the quality of cancer care by showing how well a particular patient is complying with their medications or sharing inromation about procedures performed by other specialists. At this point, the medical sata sharing initiative will be limited to United’s cancer patient group — which accounts for $2.5 billion of United’s annual spending.

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