Category Archives: CFAH
November 10th, 2015 | 0
Seniors need more Medicare choices, or do they? The answer depends, of course, on who’s doing the asking.
Republicans and others advocating a voucher plan for Medicare invoke the choice argument as the rationale for transforming Medicare from social insurance provided by the government to privatized arrangements between individuals and the marketplace. Under a voucher system, the government would give seniors and people who are disabled a fixed amount of money to buy insurance from private carriers much the way the rest of America does.Continue Reading
August 22nd, 2014 | 0
As part of our Here to Stay: What Health Care Leaders Say About Patient Engagement report, CFAH interviewed senior administrators from BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, PacificSource Health Plans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan.
In total, over 35 health care stakeholders were interviewed, representing seven key groups: patients, clinicians, employers, health plans, community health programs, governments, and health care consultants and contractors. From the eight questions we asked about patient engagement, six overarching themes emerged:Continue Reading
March 14th, 2014 | 0
Shoppers searching the Internet for health insurance coverage can be forgiven if they are confused. A New York woman waiting to speak to an official Obamacare navigator the other day told me she decided to ask for help because she couldn’t understand the policies on the website of the New York exchange. When I asked one of the navigators about this woman’s confusion, she assured me all the summary information about the policies was there, but warned “you have to know where to look.”Continue Reading
February 12th, 2014 | 3
A couple weeks ago, the Medicare Rights Center, a well-known New York-based advocacy group, released a report card showing how well seniors are faring with Medicare. The report is a good barometer of the troubles beneficiaries face when navigating Medicare’s very complicated system for getting health care.
One particularly compelling finding popped out: 21 percent of the 14,000 callers to the Center’s national help line in 2012 had trouble covering the cost sharing that Medicare requires. This means that almost a fourth of seniors struggle with paying the deductibles for Part B – doctor and outpatient services – and for Part D, the drug benefit.Continue Reading
October 30th, 2013 | 0
On Monday, Pro Publica provided the latest word on the usefulness of hospital ratings, an issue that seems never to disappear despite the growing body of work that raises questions about the methodology used to create them, their conflicts of interest with sponsors, and, most importantly, their usefulness to the public.
A health reporter in Billings, Montana, wanted to know how she should write about ratings, and Pro Publica‘s senior writer, Charlie Ornstein, responded with: “Reporters should avoid writing about hospital ratings if they can. But if they do, they should consult state health department data and the federal Hospital Compare website and look for recent inspection and deficiency reports posted on hospitalinspections.org.” All advice I agree with — not just for journalists but for the public, too.Continue Reading
October 4th, 2013 | 0
Will all the White House messages, the stream of breathless Twitter updates on the number of hits and enrollments, and the press hype surrounding opening day send the uninsured public into panic mode? Will they prompt buyers to consider only the premium and click to enroll ASAP? And why not? For weeks the administration, state exchange officials and supporters of the Affordable Care Act have been telling the public how cheap premiums will be — much cheaper than expected.Continue Reading
September 19th, 2013 | 1
Recently the Washington Post’s health policy columnist Sarah Kliff waded into the muddy waters of hospital disclosures. Kliff had heard that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory had signed legislation requiring the state’s hospitals to publish the rates for the services they’ve negotiated with insurance companies.
That indeed would be a big step and builds on Medicare’s release earlier this year of what hospitals charge the government to treat Medicare beneficiaries. Surprise, surprise! The data show huge differences among hospitals even in the same city, a phenomenon well documented in the academic literature.Continue Reading
September 3rd, 2013 | 1
It’s the silly season again for Medicare. It comes around whenever a political campaign is about to begin, as it is for next year’s mid-term elections. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has been talking about Medicare quite a bit lately and raising an issue that’s been hanging around since the elections of 2010: that the Affordable Care Act takes money out of Medicare by shortchanging Medicare Advantage plans.
Speaking to the Bay County Chamber of Commerce a few weeks ago, Rubio said one of the things the health reform law did was take “a tremendous amount of money out of the Medicare Advantage program, not to fund Medicare or to make Medicare more solvent, but to fund the health care law.” Politicians love to play ball with benefits for seniors.Continue Reading
July 1st, 2013 | 0
On July 1, Medicare begins a second round of competitive bidding for medical equipment and supplies, such as diabetes testing strips that beneficiaries use to check their blood sugar levels. There’s nothing remarkable about any of this except that the industry is fighting to make sure that competitive bidding does not happen.
This fight is emblematic of the difficulty Medicare has containing costs when the profits of sellers of medical goods and services are at stake. As we know, one person’s savings is often the loss of another’s income. We also know that industry folks squawk mighty loudly to Congress when their income is threatened.Continue Reading
June 13th, 2013 | 0
The saga of insurance rates continues: will consumers buying coverage in the new state shopping exchanges find lower or higher rates? On one side are those who say the newly insured will see lower premiums for coverage. Count the president in that camp. Others, including insurance industry types, say for many groups of people rates may be higher. What’s been left out of the debate, however, is the question: higher or lower compared to what? And here’s where the whole rate discussion gets murky and confusing.Continue Reading
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