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[ Study Suggests Consolidation Of Health Plans May Help Lower Hospital Costs ]

Study Suggests Consolidation Of Health Plans May Help Lower Hospital Costs

Increased consolidation among health plans nationally may benefit consumers by lowering hospital prices, at least in those regions where health plans are the most consolidated, according to a new RAND Corporation study. Researchers found that hospital prices were about 12 percent lower in the metropolitan areas with the fewest health plans, lending support to the view that when health plans become bigger they can negotiation lower prices from health providers. The study, published in the September edition of the journal Health Affairs, also found that regions where hospital ownership is more consolidated generally have higher hospital prices. But those prices can be driven lower when health plans also are consolidated. "There may be a benefit for consumers when health insurance plans are more consolidated because it tends to drive down hospital costs, " said Glenn A.

Under-Insured Adults Skip Needed Care, Struggle With Medical Debt: Affordable Care Act Reforms Could Have Substantial Impact

Insured and still at risk: Number of under-insured increased 80 percent between 2003 - 2010 The number of underinsured adults - those with health insurance all year, but also with very high medical expenses relative to their incomes - rose by 80 percent between 2003-2010, from 16 million to 29 million, according to a new Commonwealth Fund study published in the September issue of Health Affairs. Nearly half (44%) of U.S. adults - 81 million people - were either underinsured or uninsured in 2010, up from 75 million in 2007 and 61 million in 2003. The study finds that in addition to covering the uninsured, Affordable Care Act (ACA) reforms will also provide significant relief for those who are underinsured, potentially reducing their numbers by as much as 70 percent once the law is fully implemented.

Underinsured Adults Rose From 16 Million To 29 Million In 7 Years

The number of adults whose health insurance was inadequate rose 80% from 2003 to 2010, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund published in the journal Health Affairs. They added that the Affordable Care Act aims to bring down this number by 70%. The Commonwealth Fund defines underinsured adults as those who say yes to at least one of the following: Out-of-pocket family medical care spending makes up over 10% of income (not including premiums) Medical expenses that represent over 5% of income (in families whose income is below 200% of federal poverty level) In this study, the researchers gathered data from the Commonwealth Fund 2010 Health Insurance Survey, which included a telephone survey of 4, 005 individuals aged 19+ years in mainland USA. People were asked about out-of-pocket expenditure, insurance, care experiences, health status, income, and other demographic characteristics.

Access To Health Insurance, Medical Homes Improves Outcomes Among Undocumented Children

Undocumented children who have access to health insurance are healthier and more engaged in school than those without insurance, according to researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC). Their data is the first to show a direct health benefit to children from what primary care practitioners call a "medical home, " which is medical care that is accessible, continuous, comprehensive, coordinated, family-centered, compassionate and culturally effective. "If you can connect kids to medical homes, there are potentially big pay-offs, " said Gregory D. Stevens, Ph.D., assistant professor of family medicine at the Keck School and lead author of two recently published studies about medical homes. "We found that there is a strong association between high-quality medical care and health improvement and school engagement.

American Families Just 95 Dollars Better Off In Ten Years Because Of Rising Health Care Costs

A median-income American family is only $95 per month better off today than ten years ago because rising health care costs have eliminated virtually all their income gains, researchers from the Rand Corporation revealed in the journal Health Affairs. Had health care costs risen in line with other goods and services those families would have had an extra $545 disposable income per month in 2009. Economist David Auerbach, the study's lead author, said: "Accelerating health care costs are a primary reason that the so many American families feel like they are just treading water financially. Unless we reverse the trend, Americans increasingly will notice that health costs compromise their other spending options." Between 1999 and 2009 in the USA: Health care spending rose from $1.3 trillion to $2.

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