A study in the May edition of Health Affairs evaluated the power of market concentration in correlation with rising costs in the New York and California markets. The study found that increased hospital and medical group concentration exhibited an increase in premiums in both states. The results showed a difference in health plan concentration exhibiting a positive correlation in premium growth in New York but a negative association in California.
Los Angeles County’s new Housing for Health initiative aims to improve the health of the city’s homeless population by using healthcare dollars not just for blood tests and antiviral medications, but also to pay for housing for the sickest residents of Skid Row, reports STAT. The idea is to first give the homeless a stable place to live, then gradually treat their medical and mental health needs. So far, the county has allocated nearly $60 million in health funding for new housing and assigned 184 people to permanent housing, including many who suffer from chronic diseases. Officials say they are likely to reach their goal of housing 250 people in the first year. They hope to get nearly 2,000 people — nearly all of Skid Row’s unsheltered — into permanent housing within four years.
The unanticipated costs of providing healthcare to customers on the state's online exchange has prompted large insurers to seek rate increases of up to 30 percent while one insurer decided not to offer individual plans at all, according to the Baltimore Sun. UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest insurer but a bit player in Maryland, was not included on a list released Friday by state regulators of companies seeking rate increases for 2017.
A Health Affairs blog post analysed current price variation among providers and ongoing efforts within the state to decrease this unwanted variation. While Massachusetts is a leader throughout the country in taking the necessary steps to curb rising healthcare costs, more work needs to be done to reduce this variation.
Both chambers of the Missouri legislature overwhelmingly passed a health insurance rate review bill, according to The Missouri Times. The advancement was cheered by Missouri Health Care for All, who believe the bill will bring more transparency to insurance premiums. The law gives the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration a chance to determine if a rate hike is unreasonable ahead of time, notify the insurer and request a change. If the insurer moves forward with a rate that has been deemed unreasonable, the agency can make the determination public. But it cannot reject those increases, according to St. Louis Public Radio.
On May 10, 2016, the Ohio Department of Insurance approved the merger of Aetna and Humana with little public notice, according to a press release by the Universal Health Care Action Network. No hearings were held on the matter, despite requests from consumer advocates. The merger would result in the combined entity controlling approximately half of the Medicare Advantage market in Ohio.
Much is left to be desired in terms of publicly reporting medical errors in Arizona hospitals, according to Tucson.com. Not only does Arizona lack a database of serious medical errors, hospitals are not required to report these errors to the state, the process of reviewing a medical error is not made public, and Arizona laws makes it difficult to sue, especially emergency department physicians.
In some healthcare cost measures, Utah has both the healthiest population and the lowest per-capita health carecosts, according to an article in NEJM Catalyst. While it is not entirely clear as to how and why Utah is able to hold this unique distinction, it is certainly important to understand the state’s people, systems, dollars and data according to Elizabeth Gardner, author of the article. Utah is looking for more analysis to better understand and identify a definitive explanation on what makes their state different.
Florida has the least expensive health services, but the cost of health services varies widely throughout the state, according to a Health Affairs study examining price variation. The study compared overall price levels by state and price variation within states. The authors found that there was sometimes more than a threefold variation in healthcare prices. In Florida, for example, the price of a pregnancy ultrasound varied from $180 in Orlando to $457 in Jacksonville.
The New Mexico Department of Health submitted its Health System Innovation Final Design for the SIM Model Design Cooperative Agreement. The state aims to use patient-centered medical homes to improve alignment of clinical, behavioral and oral healthcare, in addition to social services to improve population health.