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The Health Insurance Industry’s Unnecessary Expenses

I have described how the healthcare insurance industry loads its expenses into direct patient care expenses to increase their profits.

The Medical-Loss Ratio calculation is not reported by the traditional media. The healthcare insurance industry spends less healthcare dollars on direct patient care after it is permitted by federal and local agencies to load its expenses into the direct patient care column.

Simply put, the healthcare insurance industry cooks the books to increase its net profit.

Another way to increase profits is to shortchange physicians on medical claims. In fact, 20% of medical claims payments are inaccurate according to the American Medical Association’s (AMA) fourth annual National Health Insurer Report Card. Claims-processing errors by health insurance companies waste billions of dollars and frustrate patients and physicians.

This is one of the reasons the RAND report about physicians controlling waste is so absurd to me. The healthcare insurance industry creates waste in order to increase net profit. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

Even With Insurance, Childbirth Is An Expensive Undertaking

Childbirth hospital costs these days aren’t cheap. Some studies suggest the cost of raising a child exceeds $200,000, not including education expenses.   Most insurance companies charge women of childbearing age more for their insurance because the actuarial tables say so.  Mrs  Happy and I now have a 3 month old Zachary in our wings.  He is a cute little peanut.  His two brothers, Marty and Cooper adore him.

Forty-two days after his April 21st, 2011 delivery, we still had not received our explanation of benefits from Blue Cross Blue Shield for the midwife charge.  I had previously received a statement from them saying the charge was under review.  Perhaps they believed that delivering Zachary was not medically necessary.  I can’t explain it.

When I called to ask them why this charge had not been approved,  they said they could not give me a reason why my explanation of benefits statement had not been finalized after 42 days.  I pressed for more information, but to no avail. I was given no reason other than to say that they had a lot of claims to review.   That’s not an acceptable reason to delay a payment of a claim. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Small Hospital Places A Bet With Big Insurance

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Caritas Christi Health System are announcing a new agreement that some suggest may be a model for the rest of the country.

Under it, the non-profit insurer will stop paying the non-profit hospital on a fee-for-service basis for certain insureds:

Under the deal expected to be announced Friday, Caritas . . . will be paid to take care of about 60,000 Blue Cross members in its new program — whether or not they get sick. Caritas will use some of the payments for preventive services to help keep patients healthy. If Caritas can keep health-care costs under a certain budget, it can make a profit. But if health-care costs go over the agreed-on amount, Caritas is on the hook. . . . . Blue Cross is adding a carrot: If doctors and hospitals can meet certain quality targets, they can earn a bonus of as much as 10% on the value of the deal. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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