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Archive for the ‘Insurance’ Category

Outlawing Private Health Insurance in California

Posted by Alex Gault on March 3, 2006

Proposed state legislation calling for the establishment of a state-run single payer system for health care is still under consideration. If enacted, private health insurance would be abolished in California. The legislation is modeling on the Canadian system of socialized medicine which, until a recent court ruling in the province Quebec, made all private health care illegal.

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Posted in Insurance, Leaders, Patients | 2 Comments »

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 »

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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Study Concludes Pay-for-Performance Works

Posted by Alex Gault on December 5, 2005

Doctors will provide higher quality care when given financial incentives to do so, concludes a 3 year study of 7 pay-for-performance (P4P) programs.

P4P programs have been gaining traction lately. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has launched 7 programs in hospitals, chronic care management and outpatient physician services — the “largest experiment in the country” for assessing P4P, said Suzanne Delbanco, CEO of the Leapfrog Group, a consortium of health care purchasers that provided technical assistance to the programs.

The study suggests that incentives need to be at least $5,000 per physician or perhaps as high as 10 percent of a physician’s income to make a difference.

Blue Cross of California is implementing a P4P project in San Francisco and plans to expand it statewide.

Funds for the projects came from the RWJF (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), the CHCF (California HealthCare Foundation) and the Commonwealth Fund.

Posted in Insurance, Leaders | 1 Comment »