Employers Benefits of Using Healthcare Transparency & Consumerism Tools

With increased health costs and increased business costs, employers are looking for more creative and innovative ways to cover their employees.  Benefit management groups like Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. are constantly searching for new tools to help their clients save money, so we decided to put together some materials for them.  Being based in Florida, we thought we’d take a look at average costs in the state to estimate potential overall savings for employers.

  Cost Per MRI Cost of 50 MRIs
Average Cost in Florida

$1,308

$65,400

Save On Medical Average

$452

$22,600

The price difference comes out to $42,764 worth of savings, on just 50 MRIs.  For a large, self-insured company; those kinds of savings are significant.  There are other benefits as well of course, other than price.  With over 100 imaging centers in Florida being in Save On Medical’s network, Florida employers have plenty of options when it comes to care for their employees.  There is nothing worse than paying an arm and a leg for an MRI when you don’t even have the option of choosing where you go for it.  Consumerism in healthcare has been long coming and employees are starting to recognize their role in it all.

 

Employers have their own set of benefits as well including:employer health benefits

  • Cost containment/decreases
  • Improved quality of care due to Save On Medical’s rigorous standards for physicians
  • Better care coordination
  • Customized care plan for employees

 

Things are not as they used to be for employers. Consumerism in health care is not a pipe dream anymore, the tools exists to help them find affordable care for their employees. If you need help taking matters into your own hands, Save On Medical can help. Click here to save money on health costs for your company.

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2014 Transparency Grade Changes

After the 2014 price transparency report card came out last week, it could be inferred that not much has been accomplished over the last year in the way of transparency improvement. This is because of the significantly lower grades that Catalyst for Payment Reform has awarded the states this year.  It’s not all as “clear” as that though, because a lot has changed based on how their grading system worked.  This year they decided to raise the bar by no longer grading the states on a curve.  The result was that no states received A’s this year and a significantly larger number of states received failing grades.

There is a lot that goes into grading that states and it can be confusing to those that aren’t well versed in the language of price transparency. The Reader’s Digest version of this grading system is as follows:

-       Ability for patients to request pricing information prior to rendering services

-       Public report on pricing

-       Public website

  • Scope: number of services listed
  • Ease of Use: clear language, no jargon, easy navigation
  • Utility: estimates of a consumer’ out-of-pocket expenses
  • Accuracy/Data Exchange:  current data (from 2012 or more recent)

These components have a number of smaller details that go into them, based on hospital services, inpatient versus outpatient or provider costs. Sates scores are then based on the scope of information the state has available to patients.  Some have changed significantly in the last year, showing that they have a long way to go.

STATE

2013

2014

Alabama

F

F

Alaska

F

F

Arizona

F

F

Arkansas

D

F

California

D

F

Colorado

B

C

Connecticut

F

F

Delaware

F

F

Florida

D

F

Georgia

F

F

Hawaii

F

F

Idaho

F

F

Illinois

C

F

Indiana

F

F

Iowa

C

F

Kansas

F

F

Kentucky

C

F

Louisiana

D

F

Maine

B

B

Maryland

F

F

Massachusetts

A

B

Michigan

F

F

Minnesota

B

F

Mississippi

F

F

Missouri

F

F

Montana

F

F

Nebraska

F

F

Nevada

C

F

New Hampshire

A

F

New Jersey

F

F

New Mexico

F

F

New York

F

F

North Carolina

F

F

North Dakota

F

F

 

Ohio

D

F

Oklahoma

F

F

Oregon

F

F

Pennsylvania

F

F

Rhode Island

F

F

South Carolina

F

F

South Dakota

C

F

Tennessee

F

F

Texas

D

F

Utah

C

F

Vermont

C

C

Virginia

B

C

Washington

F

F

West Virginia

D

F

Wisconsin

B

F

Wyoming

F

F

 

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Catalyst for Payment Reform Releases New Transparency Report

Earlier this week, the transparency superstars at Catalyst for Payment Reform released their 2014 report card on state-by-state transparency efforts. In 2013, their report went viral, highlighting the seriously lackluster state of transparency across the country.  This year, the grades are even more dismal. The top 2 states; Maine and Massachusetts received ‘B’ grades. In second place, we have Colorado, Vermont and Virginia, who don’t really even have much to brag about coming in with a ‘C’ grade. The rest of the states received ‘F’ grades and clearly have a LOT of work to do.

Catalyst For Payment Form Report Card Scores

Catalyst For Payment Form Report Card Scores

Check out the full report here: Catalyst for Payment Reform Report Card

Now let us know your thoughts on how your state stacked up!

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Do Even the “Young and Invincible” Need Insurance?

Are we the only ones that are hearing Lana Del Rey singing “Young & Beautiful” when we hear about the “Young and Invincible” uninsured group? Well regardless, don’t you worry, you 25-35-ers. We will still love you when you’re no longer young and beautiful invincible. Sadly though, you’re not invincible, so whether you decide to opt in to one of the thousands of insurance plan options or remain uninsured, you should know about your options.

The open enrollment deadline is quickly approaching, March 31st. Only 10 days away from today, and after that, uninsured individuals will face a tax penalty.

What is the tax penalty?

If you are still uninsured after the deadline, one of two things will happen, and it will be whichever is more expensive:

·      1% of your yearly household income

·      $95 per person per year ($47.50 for individuals under 18)

Some people, mainly between the ages of 25 and 34 (they’ve been nicknamed the “young and invincible” group), still believe that it will be cheaper to foot the medical bill should something happen than to purchase health insurance.

GetInsured recently released some numbers that show just how wrong that is.

For that “young and invincible” group:

·      1 in 20 have a chance of their medical bills costing at least $27,000 a year

·      2 in 20 have a chance of their medical bills costing at least $13,000 a year

·      4 in 20 have a chance of their medical bills costing at least $5,000 a year

So, if you’re one of the “lucky” few to fall into the lower category of $5,000 a year, you’re still spending a lot more money than you need to be, especially in certain states where 25-34 year olds can get insurance for less than a dollar a day.

Texas, for example, as 77,614 uninsured patients between the ages of 25-34, which is over 1% of their overall uninsured population. They can also get health insurance for $1 a day or less.

Some other states in similar situations:

·      Kentucky: 50,306 uninsured young and invincibles, making up for almost 8% of their total uninsured population.

·      North Carolina: 46,916, making up for almost 3%

·      Georgia: 43,572, making up for over 7%

·      Mississippi: 43,511, making up for almost 10%

·      Louisiana: 36,459, making up for over 4%

·      Alabama: 26,573, making up for over 4%

·      Tennessee: 20,358, making up for over 2%

·      Oklahoma: 20,170, making up for over 3%

These are just GetInsured’s top 10 list. The percentages were done using the Kaiser Family Foundation’s state-by-state information.

What are the Obama Care enrollee numbers now? 

According to this Reuters article, over 5 million people have enrolled in the private health insurances offered through the marketplace, with apparently these last few days being the busiest. However, specific numbers for ages (such as 18-34 range) were not reported.

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Health IT to Bring Improved Price Transparency and Health Care Consumerism

Last week in Orlando, Florida, some of the most innovative Health IT minds gathered for the HIMSS 2014 Conference to share ideas for improved health care delivery and industry success.  One of the conference’s biggest draws, was a keynote speech delivered by Hilary Clinton.  She praised the conference and its historically ground-breaking success to a room overflowing with people.  She pointed out that HIMSS has inspired innumerable IT innovations that have lead to increased efficiency in medicine, improved quality of care and decreased costs over the last 50 years.

Clinton’s goal in the senate was to promote EHRs, which most health care providers across the country have transitioned to over the last year.  EHR systems make keeping medical records straight and accessible more seamless, improving care delivery and changing patient access to their records. She notes that seeing this transformation first-hand has lead her to recognizing more room for improvement in the system.

Hillary Clinton at HIMSS 2014

Photo Courtesy of HIMSS

She commented saying, “We need more transparency in our health care system. We need to drive improvements in health IT to make it easier to get data on how much treatments cost so providers, payers and consumers can make better, more informed decisions. But if things aren’t working, we need people of good faith to come together and make evidence based changes.”

Transparency alone will not necessarily improve care, lower costs or expand coverage to those that need it, but health IT and more robust data will help us to gain better insight into the most efficient ways to reach those goals.  It makes sense that with improved technology will come more valuable data which is followed by a better understanding of the health care and patient landscapes, giving price transparency power-players like ourselves (shameless bragging) the ability to enact change.

 

Cheers to all those at HIMSS 2014 this year, we are looking forward to forging the path towards affordable care, price transparency and quality-based health care consumerism.

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