MD News

Serving the Bay Area Medical Community

Archive for February, 2006

Doctor Guides Google Charity

Posted by Alex Gault on February 25, 2006

Google has tapped Dr. Larry Brilliant, a man with deep roots both in technology and altruism, to serve as executive director Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm, which has an initial war chest of $1 billion.

Dr. Brilliant’s résumé shows that he spent as much time in nonprofit public health services as he has directing technology companies in Silicon Valley, where he currently resides. He spent a decade in India in the 1970s heading an effort to arrest the spread of smallpox in that country. In 1978 he founded Seva Foundation, an organization committed to the sharing of Western technology and skills with the developing world.  

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HSAs for Small Business Owners

Posted by Alex Gault on February 20, 2006

Bay Area small businesses are constantly challenged to provide affordable healthcare insurance to employees (as are employees often for themselves). Some are considering Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Here’s a useful outline of HSA benefits:

1. You can cover your insurance deductible and other medical expenses with funds from the HSA.

2. If funds remain in the account at the end of a year, the balance rolls forward to the following years.

3. At 65, you can use the money for any purpose with no penalties though the withdrawals will be subject to income tax.

4. Contribution limit in 2006 is $2,700 for an individual and $5,450 for a family.

5. You pay for medical expenses either with money from the account or your own pocket.

6. After the deductible is met, your health plan kicks in. Your share of the expenses depends on the plan you have. Some have 100% coverage; some have 80/20 coverage. Again, you choose whether to pay your share from your HSA or from your pocket.

7. You can use your HSA to pay for medical expenses that are not covered by your medical insurance plane. Some of these expenses won’t count toward meeting your deductible, but the tax advantages still apply.

8. There is a catch up provision for people age 55 and older. In 2006, it is $700.

9. There is a proration requirement. If you start the HSA in April, you only get
to put in 8 months worth or 2/3rds the total amount of the HSA deposit and the catch up contribution.

For more information, download this file (pdf) from the Department of Treasury.

Posted in Insurance, Patients | 1 Comment »

Local Surgeon Wins Award for Doing Surgery For Free

Posted by Alex Gault on February 15, 2006

The American Medical Association has granted the 2006 Pride in the Profession Award to William Schecter for his work providing free low-risk outpatient operations to the uninsured in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Schecter is a professor of clinical surgery at UCSF, and co-founder of Operation Access, a nonprofit organization that provides donated ambulatory surgery care to uninsured low-income patients.  

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Paperwork Goobles Up California Health Insurance

Posted by Alex Gault on February 8, 2006

A new study by James H. Kahn of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at UCSF reveals that billing and insurance paperwork consume at least one out of every five dollars of private insurance health spending in California. 

According to Dr. Kahn, “Over the last decade, administrative costs have accounted for 25% of health care spending. Little has been known, however, about the portion attributable to billing and insurance-related functions.” 

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