Study Finds Health Care Spending Will Rebound When Economy Picks Up


Responses to the question: "For future pr...

Responses to the question: “For future presidential elections, would you support or oppose changing to a system in which the president is elected by direct popular vote, instead of by the electoral college?” Data from Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard University Survey of Political Independents, conducted May-June 2007, available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/independents/post-kaiser-harvard-topline.pdf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The analysis by The Kaiser Family Foundation says the slowdown in
health spending over the past several years was largely driven by the
economic malaise.

Los Angeles Times: Study: Growth In Health Spending, Curbed By Recession, To Rebound

A new study attributes a slowdown in U.S. healthcare spending to the
recent recession and predicts more rapid growth as the economy
strengthens. The report issued Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation
seeks to shed light on the reasons behind the recent drop-off. The
analysis found that economic factors related to the recession accounted
for 77% of the reduced growth in national healthcare spending, which
totaled an estimated $2.8 trillion in 2012 (Terhune, 4/22).

The Washington Post’s WonkBlog: Here’s Why Health-Care Costs Are Slowing

The answer has huge implications for the federal budget, which now faces
threats of really fast growth in Medicare, Medicaid and other health
programs. If those programs grow like they have for the past few years —
at the same rate as the rest of the economy — then that frees up lots
of funds for whatever other investments the federal government wants to
make (Kliff, 4/22).

The Hill: Study Predicts Rise In Healthcare Cost Growth By 2019

A stronger U.S. economy will contribute to a rise in the growth of
healthcare costs over the next six years, ending the current
record-breaking slowdown, according to a new study. The Kaiser Family
Foundation (KFF) predicted that by 2019, annual healthcare cost growth
will be closer to historic averages — over 7 percent compared to 3.9
percent between 2009 and 2011 (Viebeck,4/22).

CQ HealthBeat: Nation’s Health Spending Problem Remains Unsolved, Kaiser Analysts Say

Speculation that the nation’s health spending problem has somehow been
solved or cut down to size is unrealistic, says a new Kaiser Family
Foundation study that concludes 77 percent of the slowdown stems from
the weak economy. … But the analysts had a bit of good news. They said
the chilling effect on individual health spending due to the weak
economy will continue for a few more years (Reichard, 4/22).

(KHN is an editorially independent project of The Kaiser Family Foundation.)

Meanwhile, a different analysis is released on health issues–

Reuters: S&P Sees Pension Funding Burden Of Nonprofit Healthcare

Pension liabilities, expenses and contributions remain a burden on U.S.
not-for-profit hospitals despite improvements in the investments used to
fund the retirement systems, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services
said on Monday. Large pension funding demands will likely “be a drag on
the sector for several years,” it added (Lambert and Trokie, 4/22).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary
of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The
full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

Proposal Would Require Insurers To Report Health Law Taxes


English: , member of the United States Senate....

English: , member of the United States Senate. Español: John Cornyn, un senador del Senado de los Estados Unidos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The measure’s sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, bills it as a
way to educate consumers about how the health law’s benefits are funded.

The Hill: Insurers Would Report ObamaCare Taxes Under GOP Bill

A new bill from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) would require health insurers
to disclose taxes they pay under ObamaCare to policyholders. In a
statement Monday, Cornyn touted the measure as a way to educate
consumers about how the Affordable Care Act’s benefits are funded
(4/22).

Also in the news, health law opponents are pressing for repeal of the
health law’s medical device tax, among other provisions, in
comprehensive tax reform legislation –

Roll Call: Health Law Tax Foes Find Hope In Overhaul Effort

Proponents of doing away with provisions such as the medical-device tax
and the annual fee on health insurance companies say they already have
bipartisan support for their repeal legislation. But the efforts still
will face health care politics and the need for significant offsets,
making their inclusion far from certain as lawmakers work toward
comprehensive tax legislation that can pass in both chambers (Attias,
4/22).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary
of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The
full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

More Workers Covered By Bosses’ Self-Insured Plans


By Ankita Rao

November 28th, 2012, 5:25 PM


The number of U.S. workers covered by self-insured health plans—in which their employer assumes the financial risk for health costs rather than paying insurance companies to do that—has grown steadily in recent years. But such plans are still primarily used by large companies, not small employers, a new study finds.

As of 2011, more than half of U.S. employees were covered under these self-insured plans, compared to about 41 percent in 1998, according to a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. These plans can lower costs for employers by reducing administration, exempting them from state-mandated services, and allowing them to provide uniform coverage across state lines.

Sometimes workers do not even know that their employer is self-insuring because the company will hire a traditional insurance plan to administer the program.

Businesses with less than 50 employees have not followed the same trend, with only 10.8 percent of private sector enrollees in self-insured plans in 2011. The number has remained generally around 12 percent since 1998, according to EBRI.

The analysis also found that the rates varied by state — Hawaii was on the lower end with 30.5 percent of workers enrolled in self-insured plans, and Indiana and Minnesota were on the higher end with more than 70 percent enrolled. Massachusetts, the only state to have enacted universal health care coverage, saw more medium and large firms choose self-insurance.

The report’s author, Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program, says the research was prompted by speculation that smaller firms increasingly may move to a self-insured model because of their concerns about rising insurance costs under the 2010 federal health law.

Employers generally, and small employers particularly, concerned about the rising cost of providing health coverage may view self-insurance as a better way to control expected cost increases,” notes Fronstin. “This new analysis provides a baseline against which to measure future trends.”

In a separate issue brief, researchers from The Urban Institute said the health law will make self-insurance plans more attractive to small employers because of less price discrimination against small groups.

But since the federal regulations don’t apply to self-insurance, authors said a small business migration to the plans could “undermine the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act’s small-group reforms and to destabilize the market.” But the brief describes ways that federal or state regulation can help mitigate that problem.

This sign, displayed at all credit unions, inf...

This sign, displayed at all credit unions, informs members that their savings are insured by the NCUA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kaiser Permanente CEO Plans To Retire In 2013


English: A office building with the Kaiser Per...

English: A office building with the Kaiser Permanente logo in downtown Oakland. As of 2009, Kaiser was the single largest user of office space in the City of Oakland. However, Kaiser’s headquarters is in the Ordway Building, which does not bear the Kaiser logo (although Kaiser leases space on 21 of its 28 floors). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Marketplace, Insurance

Oct 05, 2012

After 10 years as the insurer’s chairman and chief executive officer, George Halvorson announced his plans to retire in December 2013.

Los Angeles Times: Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson To Retire
The longtime chairman and chief executive of Kaiser Permanente, George Halvorson, plans to retire in December 2013, and the nonprofit health system is searching for a new leader (Terhune, 10/5).

CQ HealthBeat: Kaiser Permanente Chief Will Retire In 2013
George Halvorson, chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente since 2002, announced Thursday that he will retire in December 2013. Kaiser Permanente, which was founded in 1945, is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans. The company is an integrated system that now covers more than nine million people and has about 173,000 employees (Adams, 10/4).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

George Halvorson, CEO Kaiser Foundation Health...

George Halvorson, CEO Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. (Photo credit: Robert Scoble)

Report: States, Feds Collected $30B In Fraud Settlements In 20 Years


President Obama Announces $30-billion Expansio...

President Obama Announces $30-billion Expansion of War on Cancer (Photo credit: Madison Guy)

Topics: Health Costs, Marketplace, Medicaid, States

Sep 28, 2012

A new report finds federal and state authorities have collected more than $30 billion from drug company fraud settlements in the last 20 years.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Public Citizen Advocacy Group Tracks Rise In Pharmaceutical Settlements With State Governments
Federal and state prosecutors have collected more than $30 billion from drug companies for alleged fraud and illegal marketing over the last 20 years, according to a new report by consumer advocacy group Public Citizen (9/27).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Study: States, Feds Recover Billions In Medicaid Drug Fraud Settlements
Now on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Mary Agnes Carey reports on states and the federal government recovering funds from Medicaid drug fraud settlements: “Eager for revenues, states are settling more cases than ever — and at record amounts — with drug makers accused of defrauding Medicaid programs, according to a new analysis from the consumer group Public Citizen” (Carey, 9/27).

This is part of Kaiser Health News’ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

Faith, Fraud & Minimum Wage

Faith, Fraud & Minimum Wage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Double-Digit Premium Increases Seen In Popular Medicare Drug Plans


Benefit Security Card .. HALF of the U.S live ...

Benefit Security Card .. HALF of the U.S live in households that receive government benefits (26 May 2012) …item 2..Brevard man gets 4 years in Social Security fraud case (Jun 1, 2012 ) … (Photo credit: marsmet481)

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Me...

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Medicaid administrator) logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Costs, Medicare, Marketplace

Sep 25, 2012

Seniors in seven of the 10 most popular Medicare drug plans will see marked premium increases for 2013 if they don’t opt to change plans, according to an analysis by Avalere Health.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Report: Double-Digit Premium Hikes Seen In 7 of 10 Top Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
Seniors enrolled in seven of the 10 most popular Medicare prescription drug plans will be hit with double-digit premium hikes next year if they don’t shop for a better deal, says a private firm that analyzes the highly competitive market. The report Monday by Avalere Health is a reality check on the Obama’s administration’s upbeat pronouncements. Back in August, officials had announced that the average premium for basic prescription drug coverage will stay the same in 2013, at $30 a month (9/25).

The Hill: Analysis: Premiums Rose Sharply In Medicare Drug Plans
Seven of the top 10 Medicare prescription drug plans (PDPs) saw a double-digit increase in premiums for 2013, according to an analysis by Avalere Health. The increases mean that several of the top 10 PDPs will lose eligibility for low-income subsidy beneficiaries in some U.S. regions, the study found. The release comes not long after the Kaiser Family Foundation found that health insurance premiums rose by a modest 4 percent this year on average, down from a 9-percent increase in 2011. Analysts attributed the drop to the slow economy. While Avalere did not speculate on the reason for the Part D premium increases, the group warned seniors to look closely at their options for the come year (Viebeck, 9/24).

In other Medicare news, a survey finds that many people doubt Medicare’s future and one news outlet explores the continuing challenge of reducing hospital readmission rates to avoid Medicare penalties –

The Hill: Survey: Many Doubt Medicare’s Future
Most people who are not on Medicare doubt the program will supply good and affordable healthcare by the time they turn 65, according to a new survey. In its 2012 Health Confidence Survey, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) found most of those polled who are not yet eligible for Medicare lack confidence in several dimensions of the program’s future. Specifically, 80 percent expressed partial to no confidence that they will be able to afford healthcare while on Medicare without struggling financially. A similar 77 percent were unsure that Medicare will afford them a good choice of medical providers, and 75 percent doubted that the program will guarantee them the medical treatments they need (Viebeck, 9/24).

The Medicare Newsgroup: Why Are Hospitals Having Trouble Reducing Readmission Rates?
The readmission penalties were put into place by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and were intended to prod the health care industry to take quality improvement seriously. Nearly 20 percent of Medicare patients return to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, costing the program $17 billion yearly. The idea is that if hospitals are charged for not making people healthy enough to heal at home after discharge, taxpayer money should be saved and senior patients should have better outcomes. That’s the theory. But does it hold true? (J. Duncan Moore Jr., 9/24).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

Alabama Voters Approve Moving Money From State Trust Fund To Balance Budget


Dr. Mark B. McClellan http://www.fda.gov/oc/co...

Dr. Mark B. McClellan http://www.fda.gov/oc/commissioners/mcclellan.html (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Costs, Medicaid, States

Sep 20, 2012

Medicaid officials say the vote results will help prevents massive cuts that had been forecast.

The Associated Press: Final Tally: Alabama Voters Approve Budget Rescue 2-To-1
Alabama voters decided by a 2-to-1 margin Tuesday to avoid dramatic cuts in state government by withdrawing $437 million from a state trust fund to help balance the General Fund budget for the next three years. State Health Officer Don Williamson, who oversees the state Medicaid program, said it will still have to make $20 million to $40 million in cuts to live within the new year’s budget, but that will be much less painful than the massive cuts that were forecast (9/19).

The Associated Press: State’s Medicaid Costs Could Rise $600M
The state of Indiana‘s Medicaid costs could rise by as much as $600 million over the next seven years, as the deadline for the new federal health care law approaches. That’s according to new numbers presented to legislators by the state’s Family and Social Services Administration (Kehoe, 9/19).

Meanwhile, in other Medicaid news –

The Associated Press: Medicaid Health Records Available Online In Fla.
Florida Medicaid recipients can now access their personal health records online. State health officials said Wednesday that beneficiaries can use the My Florida Health eBook to track information about their doctor’s visits, procedures, medications and immunizations. They can also update the records with notes about allergies and chart personal health information such as their weight, blood pressure and blood sugar levels (9/20).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.