The Insane World of Health Care Pricing

The money-shot quote from this article:

Francois de Brantes, executive director at the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute, said high-deductible plans are exerting a Trojan horse effect, “awakening the general public and individual plan members to the absolutely insane way in which health care prices are being set today and in which health care services are being paid for today.”

via The Pulse on Health Care Pricing | 2013-09-15 | Workforce.com.

High Deductible Health Plans Causing Less Use of Hospital and More Bad Debt from Patients

This article explains how 31 people are being laid off from a hospital in Keene, New Hampshire, due to a number of factors including less reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid and problems stemming from high deductible health plans:

Hospital officials said in December recent trends toward high-deductible health insurance plans have apparently led to increases in outstanding bad debt, which includes unpaid patient bills, and also to reductions in the public’s use of some medical services. The number of patients, which at the hospital averages more than 30 filled beds at any one time, is down, and demand for outpatient services is also off.

Link to the Article.

An Argument for Health Care as an Economic Driver

By 2014, if all goes well, we should have something that resembles national health care.  This may mean that millions of people who have suffered in the pool of 17.7% of Americans in the United States without health insurance, may suddenly be seeking care for everything from anxiety to obesity and beyond.

In Rhode Island, this would be a welcome relief from the recent trends in health care in terms of numbers of people with insurance.  The recent trends, according to the Rhode Island Health Commissioner’s office, are that between 2005 and 2010, the number of insured people in Rhode Island dropped by 65,000.  In 2005, there were about 620,000 people insured by the three big insurers, BCBSRI, United, and Tufts, and in 2010 this number had dropped to about 555,000.  During that same time, there was a modest increase in the number of people receiving either Rite Care and Rite Share.  If you look at the study cited below issued in January of 2011 from the Rhode Island Senate Fiscal Office, you will see that in 2009 and 2010, there was a significant amount of stimulus money that was used to cover the costs of the growing Rite Care and Rite Share programs — $35.2 million in 2009, $56.8 million in 2010, and $56.5 million in 2011.

Now, let’s give it some thought.  Let’s just say Obamacare goes through.  Could it be possible that part of the growing economy can be the growing health care provisions that are made for those nearly 50 million people who are newly insured?  Could neighborhoods in South Providence, downtown Woonsocket, and Eden Park Cranston all begin to flourish with new health care providers serving the throngs of people flocking in for health care?  Statistically, the uninsured are more likely to be obese, smokers, and drinkers, so there are plenty of preventative care issues that could be addressed with could treatment plans.

So instead of giving $75 million to Curt Schilling and betting on the idea that we need another MMOG video game on the internet where people will waste time being sedentary and eating junk food while they try to climb inane hierarchies, perhaps we should think about ways that government can promote health care businesses that will likely be in great demand in the very near future.

Link to the report on Privately Insured Rhode Islanders

Link to report on RITE Care and RITE Share Insured Rhode Islanders