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Public Enemy No. 1: Health Insurers
Philip Betbeze, Senior Editor-Leadership

Healthcare costs too much. Why? Because you don't pay for it—at least, not much of it. Your elected officials won't tell you that, because then you won't vote them back into office. Instead, the villain of the day is the health insurance industry. I'm not defending them, they're largely sleeping in a bed they've made with borderline unethical behavior over the years. Naming health insurers as the villain is politically expedient and appealing to an electorate that wants a simple answer to a complex problem. Other healthcare segments are breathing a sigh of relief, for now. But look out hospitals, you might be next.
[Read More]
  August 14, 2009

 
Editor's Picks
Three Alternatives to Achieve Tort Reform
A whole nasty little industry has sprung up around medical malpractice in this country. Lawyers and insurance companies get huge benefits from a system that's set up to protect patients and punish bad doctors and hospitals. Often, it doesn't work like it was intended to. But is there a better way? My colleague Cheryl Clark says there are three. In the maelstrom that healthcare reform has become, we haven't heard much about reforming the tort laws that cost patients and hospitals so much. But given the potential attractiveness of these potential solutions, perhaps we should hear more. [Read More]
HHS Fires up Rhetoric Against Health Insurance Industry
Who's the odd sector out in healthcare reform? As I noted in my column above, it's health insurers, my colleague John Commins reports, following an unusually pugnacious Department of Health and Human Services talking points memo detailing what federal officials say is the industry's widespread "discrimination" against people with pre-existing conditions. However you may feel about healthcare reform, the memo seems pretty one-sided, with many of its sources coming from the openly partisan Commonwealth Fund. The memo, slightly longer than a typical press release, is striking for a confrontational tone that—for the most part—has not been seen in government advocacy reports since the heyday of Big Tobacco. [Read More]
Utah Tests Health Insurance Exchange Idea
Next week, Utah will become the second state—after Massachusetts—to operate a health insurance exchange, an idea which is being debated as part of federal healthcare reform, according to my colleague Janice Simmons. The exchange, which goes live Aug. 19, has a Web site where individuals and businesses can compare and buy health plans. With the exchange, employers will have the option of depositing money into their employees' health savings accounts—rather than paying a portion of their premium—to allow them to buy any plan they want. [Read More]
This Week's Headlines
For lawmakers, health-plan anger keeps coming
New York Times - August 13, 2009
Obama injects himself into health talks, despite risks
New York Times - August 13, 2009
Dakotas hospitals: Merger will not mean layoffs
Associated Press - August 13, 2009
Four Ways Health Reform Can Improve Patient Medication Adherence
Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media - August 13, 2009
Nashville medical trade center hires adviser with Vanderbilt ties
The Tennessean - August 13, 2009
Kaiser Permanente to cut more than 1,800 jobs in California
Los Angeles Times - August 12, 2009
California woman gets eight years in prison for recruiting patients for unnecessary surgeries
Los Angeles Times - August 12, 2009

Webcasts/Audio Conferences
Advanced Service Line Marketing: New Orthopedics Growth Strategies (August 18)
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From HealthLeaders Magazine
Hang On

HealthLeaders August 2009
Get ready for the failure of the HIT stimulus dream, episode of care contracting, the end of easy credit, and a public plan. [Read More]
Service Line Management
Making Wellness Work

Wellness and weight loss programs aren't major revenue generators, but healthcare reformers know they cannot effectively control costs without focusing more on prevention. [Read More]
View from the Top

Web-Based Analytics Improving Medical Practice Strategic Planning: Stone Medical Clinic had much to be proud of—a long history of excellent patient care, well trained physicians, and a growing roster of new patients. What it lacked, however, was profitability comparable to similar-sized practices. What it needed was the ability to review many disparate pieces of patient information related to the business side of the practice, from verifying coverage to collecting co-payments. [Read More]
Audio Feature

Measuring Wellness: With all the attention being paid to wellness and healthy living as key to reforming healthcare, it's interesting to view what Americans themselves consider a healthy life, not just what so-called "experts" think. We spoke with Anne Wilkins, executive vice president of marketing and strategy with Healthways, which works with employers to enhance well-being, improve business performance, and reduce healthcare costs. One of Anne's chief projects is the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a surveying tool introduced in 2008 that attempts to measure what Americans consider a healthy life. [Listen Now]
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