Why is there not more support for an expanded employer role in providing health insurance to all Americans? I sense a certain exhaustion among decision makers and employee benefit professionals as they grapple with costs that just defy control. I notice at professional conferences an increasing openness to the single payer model.
We have seen one cost control fad after another. More and more employers are dropping health benefits in order to stay afloat. In this game of Old Maid, those employers who do provide benefits struggle to maintain their social compact with their employees without footing the bill for the rest of the world.
The rest of the world? How does that occur? In a number of ways.
I have often made the point that a major flaw in the health care status quo – I balk at using the word “system” – is that no single entity accepts full responsibility. With very few exceptions, everyone is trying to find someone else to pay the bill or the rest of the bill.
And too often the consumer is the rope in this tug of war.
The future of farming is coming to the 44th National Farm Machinery Show, as the nation’s largest indoor farm show returns to the Kentucky Exposition Center in February. Start the year with row after row of quality products and services, hands-on demonstrations of the latest technological advancements, and a variety of free seminars..
Don’t miss the high-intensity action of the Championship Tractor Pull, sponsored by Syngenta. These ground-pounding trucks and tractors are competing for the fame and glory that comes with winning at the oldest indoor tractor pull in America.
Make plans now to be a part of the cutting edge display of equipment and technology at this year’s National Farm Machinery Show and Championship Tractor Pull.
With the election of Barack Obama, there is a lot of hope and optimism about the potential for health care reform.
There is also some nervousness.
The nervousness originates from those who think that the current economic crises will inhibit reform efforts. That somehow the price tag of reform will scare people away from health care reform. I am encouraged by an insightful article by Ezra Klein on Obama’s choice of Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
According to Klein, Peter Orszag believes that health care reform is the key to the fiscal future. Since it his office that will pin the price tag on any health care proposal, his biases matter.
Others are worried that Obama might be soft on insurance companies.
I am not a great friend of the insurance companies. I deal with them every day. But neither am I a knee-jerk opponent of insurance companies.
Insurance companies reflect the markets they operate in. And health insurance companies function in a market that brings out their worst qualites.
Unlike home insurance, or auto insurance, there is no legal or market mandate to have health insurance. This allows health insurance companies to avoid insuring the very people that need it the most – high risk (read sick) individuals.
Outside of the Medicare supplemental insurance market, there are very few limitations on what should be covered or not covered in a health insurance plan. This gives insurance companies the license to put restrictions and exclusions in their policies as they, or their customers, see fit.
Three reports this week about the costs of health care and health care reform caught my attention. One said that health care reform will be a sure fire economic stimulus because it will replace jobs lost from the current recession. Another suggests that a modest upfront investment will produce $530 billion in savings. The third moans that without a commitment to hard choices, we are doomed to health care spending profligacy.
John Nichols in The Nation describes a report and follow-on campaign by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/California Nurses Association (NNOC/CAN) that attempts to bolster the argument for a Single Payer health care system by describing its impact on jobs and the economy.
Lastly, Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post reports on findings of a report by the McKinsey Global Institute that provides valuable insights into why US health care costs so much more than it does elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately, it was short on constructive “shovel ready” policies.
So how does one react to such disparate perspectives. Clearly, each study support a specific ideological slant and approach to fixing our admittedly broken system.
Small business grants in Hawaii are somewhat tough to come by just like everywhere else. However, there are eleven federal government agencies that do have grant funding for small businesses depending on what you are trying to accomplish with your business. These eleven federal government agencies reserve some grant money and they have research and development topics that will accept proposals. Small business owners or people looking to start a small business in Hawaii may want to look in these areas for grant funding. In this article I am going to list a couple of these agencies and give a brief overview of what they deal with so that you can see if it would apply to your small business in Hawaii.
The Department of Agriculture in Hawaii has current concerns that Hawaii is currently importing about eighty-five percent of the food that is consumed in Hawaii. They would like to increase the self sufficiency of Hawaii. If you were looking at starting a farm that would assist in this concern it may assist you in receiving a grant. Under the department of Agriculture you will also find information you can find grants for rural development. The Small Business Innovation Research Program grant is another possibility for one that wants a small business grant in Hawaii that will be dealing with various science based business.
Just about every health care reform proposal includes payment reform as an important part of its platform. Most of the proposals come from organizations representing providers. Not much is heard form the other side of the exchange.
Two stories recently highlight the need for payment reform from the consumer point of view.
Number one. My son recently visited friends in New York City. An unfortunate accident landed him in the New York University hospital for two days. He is 23 years old and has his own very good insurance.
Several weeks after he returned home, he received a bill from one of the doctors that treated him in the hospital. Apparently the insurance only paid him a bit more than $200 of the $800 bill. Because he was an out of network doctor, he could and did bill for the balance.
Number two. A Participant called our plan recently. His daughter was travelling with her mother to visit her grandmother in a southern state. She too wound up in the hospital. The family belongs to an HMO and so the HMO paid the Emergency Room bills and the follow on hospital stay. But they are having difficulty with the follow up care. HMOs routinely do not pay for services provided by out of network providers.
These examples represent the most frequent type of complaints that we hear from members and why payment reform should matter to consumers.
Before I explore these two stories more detail, I wanted to outline why providers, academics and some large purchasers are advocating for payment reform.