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Medicare & Private Health Insurance: Monkey See, Monkey Do


File this under utterly predictable:

Aetna tightens payment policies on hospital errors – Modern Healthcare (sub req)

Aetna has established new, tighter policies dictating when it will and will not reimburse for medical care related to errors made by providers.

Under the policies, Aetna has broken errors into two categories: “never events”—three events involving surgery: wrong patient, wrong site and wrong procedure—and 25 serious reportable events as defined by the National Quality Forum. Providers will not be reimbursed for a case involving one of the three never events, under the new payment policy. Of the 25 events, eight will be reviewed by Aetna to determine whether reimbursement should be withheld. The rest of the events will also be reviewed under Aetna’s new policy, but they will not be considered eligible for adjustments to reimbursement, the spokeswoman said.

This of course follows on the heels of Medicare’s decision not to pay for such events. The good news is that, as far as I can tell, Aetna has not extended the policy as far as Medicare has. Medicare, you may recall, also decided not to pay for certain (arguably) preventable conditions, such as foley-catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and surgical wound infections. Aetna, at least for the moment, is limiting its policy to the more black-and-white “never events” as defined by the National Quality Forum: items such as wrong-patient surgery or death due to contaminated medications.

I mention this not to rail against these standards or against the notion of incentivizing hospitals financially to avoid errors, but to highlight how rapidly and directly Medicare policies are aped by private insurers to the point that they become industry standards.

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*


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