Archive for July, 2016

Are Insurers Ditching PPO’s?

Sunday, July 31st, 2016
ppooInsurers that have been offering PPO plans in the healthcare marketplace appear to be cutting back on the number of offerings or eliminating PPOs from the marketplace altogether, leaving consumers with fewer options. Is this becoming an industry-wide trend?

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Offshoring American Health Care: Higher Quality At Lower Costs?

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

medicaltourism

Is  the future of American health care 430 miles offshore? American health care providers are watching closely and anxiously.

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Ex-UnitedHealth CEO Raising $81 Million for New Insurance Startup

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

brighthealth

Bob Sheehy, the former CEO of CEO of United Healthcare  UNH 0.76% , is back with a new startup called Bright Health.

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BCBS Over-Payment Practice Dealt Death Blow

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

morgue

This might be the first time in US healthcare history that a federal ERISA court grants a permanent injunction against a violative insurance company or health plan.

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Is Medicare +25% Reasonable?

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

rooney

Is 125% of Medicare a reasonable reimbursement rate? Patrick Rooney thought so back in the 1980’s. Many believe it still is.

Several of the BUCA’s pay less than that for out-of-network provider pricing. We have seen some of the BUCA’s pay out-of-network hospitals 105-110% of Medicare. 

Our book of business primarily employs reference based pricing strategies paying hospital / facilities 120% of Medicare since 2007. – Bill Rusteberg

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Federal Audit Police Poised to Pounce & Punish

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

helpgovAn official blasted the Office for Civil Rights for going too easy on the covered entities……..Next round of audits to be tougher and could lead to legal action…….

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Insurance Companies & Private Hospitals Facing Off In Houston

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

toodamnhigh

Your Billing Is Too Damn High!

According to the Houston Chronicle, at least a dozen lawsuits have been filed in the city in recent years over what insurers claim is an incorrect practice: private hospitals offering patients lower rates that compete with “in-network” facilities by billing the insurance company more.

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DoctorGlobe Launches Nation’s First Online Hospital Shopping Platform

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

likw

DoctorGlobe launches first online hospital-shopping platform to help self-funded employers discover better care for less featuring an algorithm that ranks 120+ surgery procedures across 2,800+ hospitals nationwide by quality, distance and price.

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Healthcare’s Biggest Lie

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

pinnochio

“PPO networks are a quaint artifact of pricing failure……….if you study the numbers, it is impossible to not come to the conclusion that healthcare is the single greatest threat to America. As Klein pointed out, inflated pricing is public enemy #1.”

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Captain Kirk To The Rescue

Monday, July 25th, 2016

startrek

Hospitals, Physicians, Big Pharma and Insurance Companies have been dictating pricing and making the rules continuously for decades………..The rigged game of health care is similar to the Kobayashi Maru….

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Health Insurance Consultant’s Best Kept Secret

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

bribe1“All (insurance) companies offer bonuses” to consultants. “It’s a way to sell the product and saves them from hiring 20,000 agents,” – Joe Grady

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Government To Block Aetna, Humana, Cigna, Anthem Mergers ?

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

amazingThe Justice Department is preparing lawsuits to block two giant health insurance deals, according to a person briefed on the matter, continuing a spate of antitrust actions in a whirlwind year for mergers and acquisitions.

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The PPO Claim Re-Pricing Charade

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

priceisright

Plan sponsors want to know which PPO network has the best and lowest costs. They hire consultants to find out.

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University Must Pay $2.7 Million HIPPA Settlement

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

cloud

This settlement also could reflect an ongoing “raising of the bar” by HHS where HIPAA compliance is involved……………University did everything right except relationship with cloud vendor………

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The Next Innovation In Controlling Healthcare Costs

Monday, July 18th, 2016

catchingup

Many Texas employers have been using reference based pricing strategies since 2007. These early adopters have enjoyed great success in containing medical costs. All have succeeded in beating medical trend, maintaining static costs while improving benefits.  

Markets sometimes take time to adapt, as the status quo is always in the best interests of vested interests, including insurance brokers, carriers, TPA’s, hospitals and managed care organizations. Now we are seeing reference based pricing strategies gaining rapid market growth. For example the state of Montana adopted a reference based pricing for the state’s employees just this month. – Bill Rusteberg

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Covered Entities Now Must Have Accessible Websites

Monday, July 18th, 2016

raycharles

There has been a proliferation of ADA lawsuits alleging that websites are not accessible to the blind or deaf. …….Target pays $6 million punishment fine to government…………..

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UHG Responds To Belk?

Monday, July 18th, 2016

belk

I wanted to update everyone on what I thought was a rather curious comment I found posted on the blog I wrote two weeks ago about United Health Group. You might remember that, in the blog, I questioned whether United Health had really lost money on the ACA exchanges last year. See – Belk Digs Into UHC Finances – Questions Motive To Leave ACA Exchanges

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Politician Attorney Fights Insurance Companies

Monday, July 18th, 2016

hinojosa

Politician-Attorney Fighting For Plaintiff’s Lawyers

It’s all about protecting one’s profession and not at all about protecting consumers. It’s all about government taking care of people who are too stupid to take care of themselves. It’s all about government interference in a free market economy where sellers and buyers choose who to do business with. 

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Transparency In Healthcare

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

brickwall

“This is as clear as I can make it, if you work with one of the big healthcare carrier (ASO) companies there is no transparency and there never will be.  “ – Mike Dendy

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Insurers Pushing For Higher Rates To Pay Health Care Partners

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

dontt

“Insurance companies continue to look out for their medical provider partners. Secretive managed care contracts between these conspirators continues to assure annual increases in reimbursement rates, year after year. “

“It’s true that 90% of health insurance rates go to pay medical caregivers. The more providers charge for their services the higher the rates need to be. The only method to reduce health insurance costs is to reduce fees paid to medical caregivers as the State of Montana has done this year under the state employee health plan. It’s that simple” Homer T. Farnsworth, M.D.

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Plan Sponsors Beware! Are You Next?

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

flores 

Mike Flores

“According to industry experts, more and more CEO’s, CFO’s and Plan Administrators are exposed to tremendous liabilities due to poorly managed or “Head in the Sand” monitoring practices. As we have written about and predicted, this is evidence of the growing trend of self-insured health plans being exposed to tremendous liability by TPA’s.”

“These cases also illustrate an ironic twist, in many cases, the ASO agreements prohibit the plan from auditing the claims that the TPA’s are paying on behalf of the self-insured plan, which on its face, seems to be a remarkably absurd clause that any plan sponsor would agree to sign.”

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Have You Received Your Thank You Letter From BCBS Yet?

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

mother

A billion dollar gift and no thank you note is something mother would have never approved.

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TPAs Developing Innovative Strategies To Control Health Care Costs

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

crap

KGA has identified providers that offer transparent, greatly-reduced, all-inclusive cash prices. These providers allow KGA to utilize this pricing because the claims are paid quickly and at 100%. Plan participants utilizing a Kempton Premier Provider for a covered medical procedure benefit by incurring no out-of-pocket costs and the plan receives substantial savings. It’s a “win-win” for all parties involved.

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Montana Adopts Reference Based Pricing Strategies

Friday, July 15th, 2016

montana

Montana adopts reference based pricing model for state employees. Will other states follow?

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Insurance Consultant Sentencing Postponed to Sept. 28

Thursday, July 14th, 2016
haff

William Haff

A 46-year-old San Antonio independent insurance consultant William O. Haff is facing up to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to his role in a kickback/bribery scheme earlier this year involving local school district insurance plans. Original sentencing was scheduled for July 13 but has now been postponed to September 28, 2016.

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Insurance Consultants Are Biased

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

mulebriar

“The last category of independent insurance consultants are those that are never comfortable outside their insulated environment. They like the warm and fuzzy feeling of staying at home in a loving environment with Mommy.”

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Trojan Horse: Obama Embraces ‘Public Option’ on Obamacare

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

trojan

Critics of Obamacare warned in 2009 and 2010 that the so-called “Affordable Care Act” was merely a “Trojan Horse” that would eventually to a complete government takeover of health care. For that, conservatives were mocked and demonized.

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Reference Based Pricing Market Blitzkreig

Monday, July 11th, 2016

blitzkreig

“As more employer groups have adopted this strategy, hospital and provider groups have begun to take notice and push back. Therefore, the future of these plans is still uncertain” – Scott Aston

Editor’s Note: The author is mistaken. The future of Reference Based Pricing plans is not at all uncertain. PPO’s are going away, replaced with common sense and prudent business practices. Plan Sponsors are on to the PPO game and don’t like what they see. They are mad as hell and not taking it anymore.

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Dear Mr. Slavitt, Please Come Visit My Office

Monday, July 11th, 2016

dochouse

Andy, if you want to fix primary care you must do some field research.  Come spend one day, or even a week at my office or another small primary care physicians’ office.  You need to see what we do on a daily basis……………

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A Review of 4 Key Cases & New Laws Affecting Employers

Monday, July 11th, 2016

coned A range of legal decisions and fact sheets released by government organizations in recent months are expected to have an impact on employee benefit plans. In the wake of these cases and related guidance, advisers and employers should review their policies on topics such as cash-in-lieu of benefits, pregnancy discrimination, health questionnaires and arbitration agreements.

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CIGNA Administered Health Plan, DHL Express, Sued for Embezzlement Scheme

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

dhl

A scheme to withhold, embezzle, and convert ERISA plan assets through a pattern of fraudulent benefits transactions and prohibited self-dealing……..Practices that may be endemic to the industry as a whole?

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No, We Won’t Treat You Unless You Pay More!

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

mulebriar

By Molly Mulebriar

When a hospital refuses to accept a patient because their health insurance plan limits allowed charges to 120% of Medicare reimbursement rates, and instead offers to discount their charges by 15%, one wonders how much more will the patient be asked to pay.

Of note is the hospital routinely accepts 100% of Medicare from Medicare patients.

Since hospitals never disclose their charge master rates, agreeing to pay in advance for medical services on the basis of a 15% discount off an unknown number makes no sense at all. We don’t agree to purchase any other goods or services on that basis so why would we do so for health care?

Fortunately in Texas, there is a law that requires hospitals to provide a cost estimate in advance of services rendered, unless the charges are for immediate emergency care.

According to the Texas Insurance Department website “Texas law gives patients the right to request estimates of charges. Doctors and other providers and health plans have 10 days to give you the estimates.”

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Mayor Looks To Take On Hospitals Health Care Pricing

Friday, July 8th, 2016

soglin

Mayor wants hospitals to reveal the actual cost of providing care so the city can determine if prices are too high.

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Balance Billing Is A Plan Sponsor’s Best Friend

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

jet

By Bill Rusteberg

“Balance billing only occurs when purchasing  goods or services without asking  the price.”

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Belk Digs Into UHC Finances – Questions Motive To Leave ACA Exchanges

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

belk

“United Health Care announced last fall that they would be pulling out of the ACA exchanges because the Obamacare policies were costing them too much money. I thought that was a curious announcement since, according to their financial statements from last year, they appeared to be doing quite well.”

“I’m really starting to wonder if I’m the only person who ever checks financial statements” – David Belk, M.D.

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Super TPA – The Purple Cow of Health Care

Monday, July 4th, 2016

purple cow

Continental Benefits has brought some of the brightest and most entrepreneurial minds in healthcare together with a focus on not just stepping outside of the box, but tearing it down and building something entirely different……..

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Jeff “John Hancock” Bernhard Leads Health Care Revolution

Monday, July 4th, 2016

JEFF

“Jeff Bernhard is one of the rare senior executives who has left one of the big national health insurance carriers to truly solve the issues the large carriers mainly pay lip service to. He’s running Continental Benefits that is described as a “super TPA” as they go beyond what traditional third-party administrators do and apply some of the proven Health Rosetta approaches.(Super TPA – The Purple Cow of Health Care) They are growing rapidly and are one to watch.” – Dave Chase, Forbes Contributor

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Is Government Mandated Risk Sharing Fair?

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

fair

Government mandated risk sharing among insurers to cover pre-existing condition losses has merit. But is it fair?  

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Fabricated Shared Savings Schemes Continue – Plan Sponsors Beware!

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

mulebriarThe scheme continues. Shared savings off imaginary numbers through PPO discounts negotiated in secret and subject to gag orders, effectively screws consumers by driving costs up. There have been numerous lawsuits in recent years against Cigna, Blue Cross, Aetna and others with pleadings summarizing identical complaints.

Plan sponsors are at extreme risk as evidenced by the following article by Mark Flores. As plan fiduciaries they are liable for potential lawsuits. Hungary attorneys and outraged consumer groups are beginning to take note – Molly Mulebriar, Waring, Texas

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World’s Biggest Liar Contest – Texan Favored To Win

Friday, July 1st, 2016

liar

Skilled at lying to attract and retain business, playing on the ignorance of unsuspecting prey, this ingenious fabricator of fiction is considered a perfect candidate for the Bridge Inn contest. Smart money has 5 to 1 odds on a Texas win this year.

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Who’s Screwing Who? Is Your Partner Complicit?

Friday, July 1st, 2016

confused“It’s such a complicated web of intermediaries that stand between consumers and the prices they pay,” said Erin Fuse Brown, an assistant professor of law at Georgia State University College of Law. “As a result, no one knows if they’re getting ripped off.”

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Indemnifying Insureds, Not Providers

Friday, July 1st, 2016

fajita

Health insurance indemnifies insureds against loss. It is the insured’s responsibility to settle outstanding medical bills, not the insurance company. However, the temptation to cash insurance company checks and buy fajitas and beer can be as powerful as winning the Texas lottery and buying more fajitas and beer.

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