HCPro Health Plan Insider - April 29, 2009 | Consumerism Doesn't Simply Mean Shifting Costs to Members View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
Consumerism Doesn't Simply Mean Shifting Costs to Members
Les Masterson, Senior Editor-Managed Care

Among the criticisms against consumer-directed health plans is that they are merely a way to transfer costs onto patients, don't create more educated healthcare consumers, and force patients to delay preventive care. It's up to health plans to prove those assumptions wrong. [Read More]
  April 29, 2009

 
Editor's Picks
More Large Employers Concerned About Future of Health Benefits
The prediction that healthcare cost increases are expected to stay at the same level this year is not allaying employer fears that they won't offer the same health benefits in 10 years. Healthcare costs are predicted to rise 6% for the third straight year in 2009, which pales in comparison to the 14.7% increase in 2002. However, 489 large U.S. employers surveyed about health benefits are still concerned whether they can continue to offer employee health benefits in a decade. The reasons are twofold: the current economic downturn and the fact that the annual 6% cost increase is twice the rate of inflation. This shows health plans need to find ways to manage costs and offer more value-added programs to employers. Otherwise, some health plans could become extinct. [Read More]
Health Plans Need to Prepare for Climate Change Threats
In hopes of getting health insurance companies focused on climate change, The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently adopted a regulation that requires insurance companies to complete an annual eight-question survey about the companies' financial risks associated with climate change and what actions the companies are taking to respond to those risks. The survey will both assess insurers' risk assessment and management efforts, as well as allow regulators to follow up with questions if necessary, according to NAIC. Though property insurance companies have been preparing for possible climate change, health insurers have not been focused on the issue. On the surface, climate change may not appear to have as much of a direct impact, but health insurers face their own climate change issues. [Read More]
Sebelius Confirmed By Senate
The Senate confirmed Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of Health and Human Services, which puts into place the final piece of President Barack Obama's cabinet. Sebelius' nomination vote featured a mostly partisan vote with many Republican senators concerned about the Kansas governor's stance on abortion. With the Senate hurdle cleared, Sebelius faces a busy first year, including major healthcare reforms, clarifying HITECH regulations, and appointing a number of health-related officials. [Read More]
Congress Gearing Up to Tackle Healthcare Reform
Hearings and actions over the past week on Capitol Hill have shown that the Democrats are planning to move full speed ahead toward having healthcare reform bills ready to mark up by summer. For instance, a 52-page report that members of the Senate Finance Committee plan to debate behind closed doors Wednesday includes Medicare as a testing ground for ideas that could eventually be expanded to the broader market. The proposal also includes Medicare payment increases to primary care physicians and general surgeons, and a bundled Medicare payment system that rewards hospitals for care coordination and preventing rehospitializations. Leading senators hope to have a healthcare reform bill ready by June. [Read More]
Study raises questions about public health plan
Student activists say newly proposed rules in Massachusetts requiring colleges to track problems students encounter with their health insurance coverage does not go far enough. The new rules, which go into effect Friday, are in response to complaints that student policies are unacceptably skimpy with high out-of-pocket costs. State law requires college students to have health insurance. The issue for the state and insurers is creating health policies that are affordable, while still offering enough coverage to protect against catastrophic health bills. [Read More]
Last Chance: Are You a Top Leadership Team?
HealthLeaders Media is gearing up for its fifth year of the Top Leadership Teams in Healthcare program. Health insurers with varied specialties have won the Health Plan portion of the contest over the past three years, including Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Erickson Advantage, and CareSource Management Group. If you think your organization has an outstanding teamwork story to share, submit your entry today. But you better hurry, the deadline for submissions is April 30.
Managed Care Headlines
Health plans lose members to layoffs
Wall Street Journal - April 23, 2009
Age-based health insurance pricing has some cutting back on coverage
Boston Globe - April 27, 2009
Health insurance subsidy for laid-off workers has holes
USA Today - April 23, 2009
BCBS of Michigan increases payments to medical homes
Detroit Free Press - April 22, 2009
WellPoint criticized for calling members about healthcare reform
Sacramento Bee - April 24, 2009
South Florida flagged in Medicare fraud report
Miami Herald - April 29, 2009
Aetna CEO Ronald A. Williams' 2008 pay package: $3.14 million
Hartford Courant - April 23, 2009

Webcasts/Audio conferences
On Demand: Compensation Packages to Recruit and Retain Physicians in Today's Economy
April 29: Marketing Neurosciences: Service Line Strategies for Marketers
May 12: Service Lines Strategies Workshop: Cardiovascular Physician Alignment
Listen Up
Money-Saving Pharmacy Options

George Van Antwerp, vice president, Solutions Strategy Group, Silverlink Communications, discusses how health insurers are saving money through pharmacy programs. [Listen Now]
Healthcare Forum
Eight Tips for Wellness Program Success

Most companies have reported low and stagnant participation rates in workplace wellness programs. With so much riding on prevention to help cure America's healthcare system, how can wellness programs fulfill the promise of lowering healthcare costs? [Read More]
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Resources From HCPro

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