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Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare Reform’

Healthcare Reform and Businesses

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Current Healthcare Statistics:

•          Small businesses on average pay about 18% more than big businesses for the same health insurance policies

•          Small business health insurance premiums have risen 113% over nine years, a growth rate of nearly 9% annually

•          99% of large firms offer healthcare coverage, while 78% of firms with 10 to 24 workers offer coverage; that drops down to just 49% among firms with fewer than 10 workers

•          Of the 45 million uninsured Americans in 2007, 22.3 million (about half) were self-employed or worked for small businesses

Healthcare Reform Changes that Affect Your Business Right Now:

•          If you have 25 or fewer employees with annual wages of less than $50,000, you can get tax credits of up to 35% of the premiums paid under the new healthcare reform.

•          Catch: Employers need to cover at least 50% of the total premium cost for their employees

•          The credit will go up to 50% in 2014 and can be used for two consecutive years after that.

•          Businesses with 10 or fewer employees and annual wages of less than $25,000 will receive full access to the tax credit.

•          Small businesses that are tax-exempt are eligible for tax credits of up to 25% of the amount they contribute toward an employee’s health insurance premium.

•            4 million businesses are expected to be eligible for the credit this year

•          Holes: The IRS form that small business owners will fill out next year to claim the tax credit for 2010 is in draft form, and the IRS has not yet created instructions for how to use it

•          The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the credit could save small businesses $40 billion by 2019

What Can You Do to Trim Costs Right Now?

1.       Add a wellness or health management program

2.       Change plan design

3.       Perform a dependent eligibility audit

4.       Give incentives for employees to participate in wellness programs to improve the overall wellness of the group

Thanks for reading!

Your healthcare resource – Rebecca Busch

Top 10 Hospital Stories of 2010

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Becker’s Hospital Review recently posted their collection of the top 10 hospital stories of 2010. Many of the topics reflect the major hospital stories of 2010 – a few really delve into the growing problems and concerns for hospitals that are not necessarily on the forefront of discussion.

Here are the top 10 terms/stories for 2010:

1. Healthcare reform
The term “Healthcare reform” was everywhere this year. People are still scratching their heads wondering exactly what that means. 2011 will be a big year along with the next 4 years to see whether healthcare reform will hold up to its hype.

2. Integrating healthcare delivery

3. RACS get rolling

With RACs in full swing, hospitals are developing ways to ensure they meet standards. In the first quarter of 2010, RACs denied a total of $2.47 million in Medicare claims, according to the AHA’s RACTrac Survey of 653 hospitals. In 2011, it will be increasingly important for hospitals to be aware of these audits.

4. For-profits buy up hospitals

5. Ban on physician-owned hospitals

6. Physician fee cuts
With Medicare fees cut by over 20%, some physicians are losing faith in the system. What will this mean for the future of Medicare and physicians and hospitals accepting Medicare? The next 2 years will be key for this.

7. Hospital quality reporting

8. The war against healthcare fraud
One of our favorite topics, the war on healthcare fraud, waste and abuse is continually growing and ever-present. While Congress realizes that there is a need to combat this abuse, we haven’t successfully implemented initiatives to thwart it substantially. The healthcare reform law provides $300 million in funding for fraud investigation and enforcement by over the next 10 years. It will be up to Congress to ensure this money is spent wisely, efficiently and effectively.

9. Big boost for healthcare IT
EHRs, EMRs, Personal Health Records – what does all this mean for Health-IT and e-health? Lots – especially with government investing, beginning in 2011 and lasting for the next six years, $34 billion in incentives for healthcare IT to hospitals and practices.

10. Don Berwick arrives at CMS

New Fraud Opportunities with Healthcare Reform

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

While much of the focus of the public discussion surrounding healthcare reform has centered on the expansion of coverage to the uninsured, we are all aware that the reform will also have a major effect on both fully-insured and self-insured employer sponsored plans. By now, employers should know that failing to meet government mandates for coverage and affordability will result in monetary penalties.

But a seldom discussed impact of healthcare reform on employers is their increased exposure to fraud, waste and abuse. For example,

1) No lifetime or annual limits: If plans have ineligible members or dependents on their plan… now there is no limit to how much employers could be inappropriately paying for coverage of ineligible members.

2) Extension of dependent coverage: Now that employers must allow dependent coverage to continue for an adult up to age 26, plans will have an influx of new dependents… that means more potential ineligible dependents.

3) Waiting periods limited: Employers will have to provide coverage within no more than 90 days… that means employers face the risk of paying for ineligible dependents sooner.

Employers that do not regularly conduct eligibility audits, to ensure that they are not extending coverage to ineligible members and dependents, will face a significant increase in risk due to employee abuse (intentional or not) of benefit coverage. Eligibility audits are a simple way stop inappropriate healthcare expenditures. The reality is that when rules change, “the ethically challenged” will find new ways to capitalize.

For more information on the impact of healthcare reform, check out McGuireWoods Healthcare Reform Guide: Installment No. 8.

Digital medical records (EHRs)… New wave of healthcare?

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

In a previous post, legal implications surrounding privacy standards with EHRs was discussed. The questions asked were: Are there enough safeguards surrounding the technology? Is it easier to steal patient information when records are in an electronic format? And the list goes on. The post did not address the advantages and shortcomings of the EHR technology. Adaptation is slow. Why is that?

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal “Can Technology Cure Health Care” stated that “digital medical records come with some big promises – they’ll improve patient care, eliminate errors, stem costs and make health care more efficient.” On the other hand a 2009 study indicated that “hospitals with more-advanced electronic systems fared NO better than other hospitals on measures of admin costs, on average, even if the systems might ‘modestly improve’ performance on care.”

What does that mean? Healthcare professionals are frustrated with the electronic systems. Could it be because healthcare – notoriously slow to change – isn’t ready for the switch? Unlikely – the article surmises that it might not have to do with how the digital records are implemented, but with how they are designed.

The article discusses how hospitals can customize digital systems to fit their own unique needs. Digital technology has a chance to revolutionize healthcare. We just need to come up with a system that is uniform enough so all systems can communicate, but unique enough to satisfy each health facilities’ needs and wants.

How startup health services firms are educating consumers on medical spending

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Medical Business Associates, Inc. President & CEO was featured in the Chicago Tribune Monday, April 5th 2010 in an article by Ann Meyer titled, “Consumer Education on Medical Spending a Key Component of Many Startups.”

The article explains that many small businesses will be faced with numerous choices due to the passage of healthcare reform.

Rebecca asserts that education is important when understanding healthcare reform and how it will affect your business. “The one thing you can control is educating the individual. We spend too much on healthcare not be educating the frontline.”

At the end of the article Rebecca also offers some tips about going about acquiring healthcare. Here is a highlight of what she had to say.
1. Watch out for fraudulent billing, counterfeit medication and medical identity theft. Interesting fact: Americans spend an average of $6,400 every second in healthcare fraud, waste and abuse compared with the estimated $3,400 per second the new legislation is expected to cost.
2. Ask about your bills – overbilling by healthcare providers contributes to the high cost of treatment. Make sure you understand what you are being charged AND for what you are being charged. Example a doctor might bill with a code that says you were at the office for 60 minutes when you only actually saw the doctor for 10.
3. Make sure you are buying insurance from a legitimate insurance provider. Rebecca states, “One of the fastest-growing areas is selling fake insurance.” Research a company before you buy insurance from them. Just remember the adage – if it looks to good to be true, it probably is.

Read full article here.