Tag: "consumer driven health care"

Price’s Health Reform Hit From The Right

I recently discussed Rep. Tom Price, MD’s Empowering Patients First Act in quite positive terms. Not everyone is on board. My good friend Dean Clancy labels the bill Health Care Cronyism:

Section 401, for example, authorizes new federal “best practice” guidelines written by medical societies, designed to give physicians extra protections from malpractice lawsuits. These guidelines aren’t merely educational, though. They’re established as powerful litigation tools in state courts. If a physician can show he followed them, his accuser must meet a higher burden of proof to establish negligence. That may be a good idea, but it’s unconstitutional. The power to regulate civil justice is reserved to the states under our federal system. There’s neither a legal nor a practical justification for federal medical malpractice reform. States have this. They can reform their tort systems, and many have done so, with success.

Mr. Clancy and I are in complete agreement that Congress has no role meddling in medical malpractice. So, why did I ignore this part of Dr. Price’s bill and leave Mr. Clancy prime real estate in U.S. News & World Report to lay into it?

Price’s Empowering Patients First Act Gets Better with Age

220px-Tom_Price(A similar version of this Health Alert was published by Forbes.)

You’ve got to give credit to Congressman Tom Price, MD: He introduced his first post-Obamacare bill as early as 2009 and has reintroduced an updated version in every Congress since then. The latest Empowering Patients First Act (H.R. 2300), introduced this month, is the fourth iteration.

Many critics complain Republicans in Congress have taken too long to develop an alternative to Obamacare. However, President Obama is running the show until January 2017. It is responsible for Congressional Republicans to take all the time and space they need to develop their alternative for the next president’s consideration.

A fully baked repeal and replacement bill today would serve no purpose, while doing nothing until a president committed to patient-centered health reform takes office risks a confused mess of lobbyists’ priorities thrown together by politicians who barely know what they are doing – a Republican Obamacare, in other words.

The most important improvement is a universal tax credit, adjusted by age, to every American who chooses to buy individual health insurance: $1,200 for those aged 18 to 35, $2,100 for those between 35 and 50, $3,000 for those over 50 and $900 per child. Dr. Price’s previous bill had tax credits, which were not adjusted by age, but by income. Of course, Obamacare’s tax credits phase out by income, which causes very high effective marginal income tax rates at certain income thresholds.

Commonwealth Fund: “Underinsurance” Unchanged Under Obamacare

Yet another pro-Obamacare organization has had to publish a study indicating that Obamacare is failing to achieve its objectives. I recently discussed Families USA’s report that one third of low income families cannot afford care under Obamacare.

This time it is the Commonwealth Fund, inventor of the notion of “underinsurance,” which is defined as out-of-pocket health costs (excluding premiums) comprising at least 10 percent of household income, or five percent if household income is less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

In 2014, the proportion of so-called “uninsured”, aged 18-64, was 23 percent – exactly the same as in 2012 and just one percentage point more than in 2010.

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One State Leads the Fight for Health Freedom

AZWhen it comes to no-holds-barred, patient-centered health reform, one state is absolutely crushing it: Arizona.

Governor Doug Ducey, a businessman with no direct healthcare experience, has recently signed (at least) three path breaking pieces of legislation.

We’ve already discussed Arizona’s law that will allow patients to order diagnostic tests without a physician’s order.

Paying Doctors for Performance Does Not Work

Aaron Caroll, in the New York Times:

doctor-xray-2“Pay for performance” is one of those slogans that seem to upset no one. To most people it’s a no-brainer that we should pay for quality and not quantity.

In Britain, a program was begun over a decade ago that would pay general practitioners up to 25 percent of their income in bonuses if they met certain benchmarks in the management of chronic diseases. The program made no difference at all in physician practice or patient outcomes, and this was with a much larger financial incentive than most programs in the United States offer.

Consumer-Driven Health Care Round Up

Lots going on in the Consumer-Driven space these days.

AHIP released its latest version of the annual HSA enrollment census. The results are impressive, though still understated since they only received responses from 71% of the companies. It finds enrollment growth of about 15% every year, now reaching 17.4 million. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is the state-by-state breakdown of market penetration. The old Red State/Blue State divide does not hold up when it comes to market behavior. Some of the states with low enrollment include Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina, while some of the highest enrollments are found in Minnesota, Illinois, and Maine.

AHIP also released, along with the American Bankers’ Association, a report on HSA account activity. One notable tidbit from this report is the size of the contributions, both personal and from employers. The average personal contribution in 2012 was $2,337, and the average employer contribution was $1,142. Also interesting is that only 19% of all the accounts had $0 balances at the end of the year, indicating that most people are retaining funds in their accounts at least for future use, if not for long-term savings.

Dr. Ben Carson has become a passionate advocate for HSAs, seeing them as a viable alternative to much of Obamacare. An op-ed he wrote has been widely circulated.

Canadian Health Care’s War on Women: Waiting for Treatment Increases Female Deaths

UntitledCanada’s growing wait times for health care may have contributed to the deaths of 44,273 Canadian women between 1993 and 2009…The estimated 44,273 deaths between 1993 and 2009 represent 2.5 percent of all female deaths in Canada during that 16-year period, or 1.2 percent of Canada’s total mortality (male and female).

More specifically, during that same 16-year period, for every one-week increase in the post-referral wait time for medically necessary elective procedures, three female Canadians died (per 100,000 women).

No significant relationship between wait times and male mortality rates was found.

Source: Fraser Institute.

Patient Power Works: Significant Savings for Employers and Beneficiaries

We previously discussed the executive summary of CIGNA’s 8th annual Choice Fund experience study, which reports outcomes from 2.6 million beneficiaries of CIGNA’s consumer-driven employer-based health plans (that is, plans which are paired with a Health Savings Account or Health Reimbursement Arrangement). CIGNA has just released a much more detailed presentation of the results.

The presentation clarifies that the improved outcomes control for health status. That is, they compare “apples to apples”, and the results are not due to healthier people choosing consumer-driven plans and sicker people staying in traditional plans. Newly shared outcomes include:

  • Choice Fund customers increase their compliance with recommended care in the second year, even more than in the first year;
  • They improve their health-risk status by six percent;
  • Medical cost trend goes down 12 percent versus traditional plans;
  • The improvement persists over time, up to $7.900 savings by fifth year;
  • The improvement occurs in low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk patients; and
  • Because employers contribute to HSAs and HRAs, employees spend less money out of pocket than peers in traditional plans!

VA Secret Waiting Time Cover-Up is Snowballing

people-in-waiting-roomThe number of VA facilities under investigation after complaints about falsified records and treatment delays has more than doubled in recent days, the Office of Inspector General at the Veterans Affairs Department said late Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the IG’s office said 26 facilities were being investigated nationwide. Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin told a Senate committee last week that at least 10 new allegations about manipulated waiting times and other problems had surfaced since reports of problems at the Phoenix VA hospital came to light last month.

(AP via Christian Science Monitor)

The Numbers Are In: Obama Failed to Recruit “Young Invincibles” Into ObamaCare

President Obama declared that 35 percent of enrollees in the exchanges are under the age of 35. However, his statement is a piece of lawyerly evasion, as first identified by Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post.

Five college students.Under 35″ includes children, and that is not who is needed in the exchanges. Most of them would have enrolled with their parents in a family health plan. Those minors add very little to the premium of a family plan. The young people needed in the exchanges are the so-called “Young Invincibles”, who are between the ages of 18 through 34. These comprise only 28 percent of enrollees in ObamaCare — almost one third fewer than the 40 percent needed.

And even the Young Invincibles who signed up for coverage in ObamaCare’s exchanges did not do it in response to the celebrated efforts by Obama’s re-engaged political machine to turn out the hipsters. Instead, a large share of them went to a non-ObamaCare website to enroll.