A study of healthcare costs found the charge for a natural baby delivery at North Dakota’s six largest hospitals can range from $4,343 to $15,056—a difference of 347%, according to the Dickinson Press. The cost comparisons were part of an analysis of hospital costs in North Dakota presented to the North Dakota Legislature, which is studying healthcare costs compared to other states. The North Dakota insurance commissioner pointed out that the wide range of prices and difficulty in getting price information illustrate the disadvantage consumers find themselves in when trying to compare prices.
John often lacks benefits or health insurance because he is self-employed and frequently works in construction, landscaping or general maintenance work, reports That's Medicaid. Now in his early 60s, John was living with a hernia for years, until it became strangulated and sent him to the emergency room and into surgery. After being discharged, he feared being set back by the cost of the operation, but a local nonprofit helped him apply for Medicaid. John will be on Medicare in a few years, but Medicaid is providing him with peace of mind in the meantime and relief from otherwise large costs for his surgery.
In 2018 Colorado hospitals were more expensive, had higher costs, and reported higher profit margins than any other state, according to AboutHealthTransparency.org. A financial analysis conducted for the Colorado Business Group on Health using data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that Colorado hospitals had an average profit margin of 15.6%, which is the highest in the nation. At the same time, smaller rural hospitals had significantly lower profit margins and even lost money. A major contributing factor to the state’s high prices is the heavy concentration of hospital power into a few health systems.
A woman in Indian Trail, North Carolina, went to an in-network hospital for surgery five times in 2020, thinking she was covered for anesthesia services, reports WBTV 3. When she received a bill from Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center several months later, however, it claimed that she owed Providence Anesthesiology Associates $15,744.58 and her insurance, UnitedHealthcare, only covered $782.42. The patient found a statement on UnitedHealthcare's online portal showing that inpatient hospital stays include services for anesthesiologists; however, on it's website, the Center indicates that UnitedHealthcare terminated their contract in March 2020. This means that when the patient went in for surgery, no one told her she was no longer covered for anesthesia services, even though she went through a pre-approval process for each surgery.
In June 2020, the Nebraska Health Information Initiative, Nebraska’s statewide health information exchange (HIE), implemented behavioral health data, such as social determinants of health, into the HIE, according to EHR Intelligence. The Nebraska HIE partnered with a vendor network of social services organizations to create Unite Nebraska, which aimed to connect health and social care providers to enhance care coordination and delivery across the state. With this partnership, Nebraskans can access nutrition services, employment and benefits, and housing through community-based organizations. The two groups intend to break down existing barriers between clinical and social care providers, enabling them to provide care with trackable outcomes data.
Maine’s largest healthcare system, MaineHealth, received a $12.8 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health to study ways to reduce disparities in quality of care between rural and urban areas, reports the Portland Press Herald. The grant will be used to fund several studies, including research on the use of telehealth and rural health outcomes, that aim to reduce rural health disparities in acute care settings. The funds will be used to develop a statewide network to address barriers in rural health, such as limited resources, access and expertise.
Health Current, Arizona’s statewide health information exchange, announced the implementation of a new “closed loop” referral platform to help users gain a greater understanding of social determinants of health (SDOH) and enhance data exchange, according to EHR Intelligence. The system aims to streamline the SDOH screening and referral process by better connecting healthcare and community service providers, increasing access to social services and verifying that recommended social services were received. The effort closely aligns with the Arizona Medicaid program’s Whole Person Care Initiative, which focuses on SDOH such as housing, employment, criminal justice, transportation and home and community-based services interventions.
The Oregon Health Authority has officially launched the Community Benefit Minimum Spending Floor program—a regulatory system intended to ensure that Oregon’s nonprofit hospitals don’t cut their spending on charity care, according to The Lund Report. Other states, especially those that expanded Medicaid, have taken similar steps to ensure that nonprofit hospital systems devote an adequate portion of their spending to community-benefit programs. The Oregon Health Authority’s definition of community benefit not only includes charity care to uninsured or indigent people, but also community health programs, employee education, certain kinds of research and the difference between what a hospital says it costs to care for a Medicaid-covered patient and the amount that the state pays as reimbursement.
Both primary healthcare need and demand in D.C. increased from 2015 to 2018, with Black and Latino populations experiencing greater need and demand than white and Asian populations, according to a report from the D.C. Policy Center. Healthcare need is measured as the number of annual primary care visits an individual is predicted to have based on their age, sex, and health status, and healthcare demand is the predicted number of annual primary care visits while accounting for barriers, such as cost, education and language. The report notes that there are higher shares of elderly residents among Black Washingtonians and higher shares of children among Latino Washingtonians—age groups that typically need more primary care visits. However, the report also finds that there is a larger gap between healthcare need and demand. Barriers to healthcare—including language, cost and education—are likely to be higher for Black and Latino populations. The authors suggest that the greater amount of primary healthcare need among Black and Latino populations could be a factor causing the inequitable COVID-19 outcomes that these groups are experiencing.
Mayor Bowser declared gun violence to be a public health emergency in the city and announced a new “whole-government” approach to address it, reports The Washington Post. The District of Columbia has seen an increase in gun-related homicides, which disproportionately affects Black men—one of the many health inequities that Black people in D.C. experience. The city is establishing a “gun violence prevention emergency operations center” that will be staffed with people from education, job training, mental health counseling and housing fields. The Center aims to address root causes of gun violence, such as poverty, lack of education, and poor physical and mental healthcare, among other upstream factors of health.