Posts Tagged - ‘outpatient’

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Patients Stay In Hotels For Cheaper Health Care

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Image: kevindooley under CC 3.0)

Hospitalization tends to be very expensive. The cost is passed onto you through your health insurance premiums.

A new program in Boston is experimenting with different tactics. People with in-patient procedures and surgeries that are not critical are staying in nearby hotel or motel rooms, as opposed to limited hospital beds. Even though the pilot program involves a Hilton hotel instead of the local Super 8, it still saves 15-20% over recuperation in a hospital.

It’s probably cheaper–which is appealing to health insurance plans such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, who will often cover the combined cost–but is it safe? A nurse stays in the room next to the patient at all times.

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Why Is Health Insurance Spending Rising in Massachusetts?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Gov. Deval Patrick

In Massachusetts, a recent report shows that healthcare spending on those with health insurance has risen by over 15% in three years. The state is one of the first in the nation to have enacted its own healthcare reform: theirs involves a health insurance mandate, coupled with government subsidies for lower- and middle-income individuals to increase access to affordable health insurance. The Senate has clearly taken their example as model for their bill.

Still, spending has continued unabated. Despite the mandate penalizing those who fail to buy health insurance, prices of health insurance plans have only increased. Some young, healthy people prefer to take the risk and pay a $1,000 annual fine instead of monthly premiums. That continues to leave older, sicker individuals in the risk pool–whom health insurance companies need to charge more in order to make a profit.

The state government’s report is a boon to Democratic Governor Deval Patrick, who wants the state to have the ability to cap health care prices. However, it also vindicates Massachusetts health insurance companies. It shows that at least some of their price increases are legitimately due to the higher cost of providing care. ¬†A higher percentage of outpatient care is being offered in expensive hospital settings, as opposed to less costly facilities. ¬†Spending in this category increased by over one-fourth, much of it passed onto consumers of health insurance.

Health care in Massachusetts, even with reform, is 15% more expensive than the national average. That figure can’t be entirely due to the higher cost of living in Boston! State legislators plan to hold a summit in March to get to the bottom of the issue.

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Higher Co-Pays Save Money Now, Cost More Later?

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Nowadays, more companies are moving towards offering group health insurance plans with higher co-payments and deductibles. The idea behind such a move is that it saves the firm money by encouraging its employees to take better care of their health. Passing a higher percentage of health insurance costs onto the consumer should make him or her think twice before neglecting their health and waiting for their health insurance plan to deal with it. Unfortunately, evidence from Medicare patients seems to suggest that this strategy can backfire.

It turns out that the patients who saw their co-payments rise actually cost their health insurance plans more in the long run. How is that possible? While they did make fewer outpatient visits, that savings was offset by the increase in hospitalizations and in-patient treatment days. Hospital stays cost health insurance companies more than healthy patients who use regular preventative care services. Higher co-payments discourage patients from visiting doctors and having any illnesses treated earlier and cheaper. It is possible that these findings may also apply to individual health insurance plans.

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