[Under Medicare Part C] Most beneficiaries have the option to enroll in private health insurance plans that contract with Medicare to provide Part A and Part B medical services. The share of Medicare beneficiaries in such plans has risen rapidly in recent years, reaching 25.0 percent in 2010 from 12.4 percent in 2004. Plan costs for the standard benefit package can be significantly lower or higher than the corresponding cost for beneficiaries in the “traditional” or “fee-for-service” Medicare program, but prior to the Affordable Care Act [ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare], private plans were generally paid a higher average amount, and the additional payments were used to reduce enrollee cost-sharing requirements, provide extra benefits, and/or reduce Part B and Part D premiums. These benefit enhancements were valuable to enrollees but also resulted in higher Medicare costs overall and higher premiums for all Part B beneficiaries, not just those who were enrolled in MA plans. Under the ACA, payments to plans will be based on “benchmarks” in a range of 95 to 115 percent of fee-for-service Medicare costs, with bonus amounts payable for plans meeting high quality-of-care standards. (Prior to the ACA, the benchmark range was generally 100 to 140 percent of fee-for-service costs.) As these changes phase in during 2012-2017, the overall participation rate for private health plans is expected to decline from 25 percent in 2010 to about 15 percent in 2020.
Healthcare business news, research, data and events from Modern Healthcare
Salaries and bonuses were up across the board in 2015 for top leaders at Health Care Service Corp. even though the Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurer suffered substantial losses in the ACA marketplaces. The highest-paid executive was former CEO Patricia Hemingway Hall, who made nearly $16.6 million.
Decision Memo for Screening for Lung Cancer with Low Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) (CAG
The NLST demonstrated benefit by enrolling a large number of high exposure patients (smoking history) to be followed for several years to detect a significant decrease (247 deaths from lung cancer per 100,000 person-years in the low-dose CT group and 309 deaths per 100,000 person-years in the radiography group; number needed to screen (NNS) to prevent one lung cancer death = 320). The trial was ended early after an interim analysis. The decision to compare to screening with chest radiology (Church, 1990) was made before the PLCO trial was completed that showed chest radiology did not reduce lung cancer mortality (Oken, 2011); however, the radiology group was exposed to harms that may not have occurred in a no screening control, potentially enhancing the relative benefits and the likelihood of a positive trial result. The harms of LDCT relate to the CT scan itself and the follow-up diagnostic tests or interventions (adverse events from bronchoscopies and biopsies), and patient psychosocial consequences, and have been recognized for many years as noted in past USPSTF reviews. For example, death within 60 days after most invasive diagnostic procedures was twice as high in the radiology group compared to the LDCT group (2.1 % versus 1.0 %; NLST, 2011), which with a large sample size may result in a meaningful difference. NLST investigators wrote: “one of the most important factors determining the success of screening will be the mortality associated with surgical resection, which was much lower in the NLST than has been reported previously in the general U.S. population (1 % vs. 4 %).” If this is not maintained with broad implementation of screening, the screening benefits may not be realized. A better understanding of why patients screened with LDCT had lower mortality from invasive procedures is needed. Questions such as whether the state of disease, patient, physician, or bias of either the physician/practitioner or patient may need to be considered.
Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive Programs
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) (Pub.L. 111–5) was enacted on February 17, 2009. Title IV of Division B of ARRA amends Titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act (the Act) by establishing incentive payments to eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs), and Medicare Advantage Organizations to promote the adoption and meaningful use of interoperable health information technology (HIT) and qualified electronic health records (EHRs). These incentive payments are part of a broader effort under the HITECH Act to accelerate the adoption of HIT and utilization of qualified EHRs.
Health Reform Implementation Timeline
Implementation update: On July 19, 2010, the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (OCIIO) issued regulations on the new preventive benefits coverage requirements. These rules apply to new plans established on or after September 23, 2010. On August 1, 2010, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force released its recommendations. On July 19, 2011, the Institute of Medicine released a report that recommended several women’s preventive services that should be included in health plans with no cost-sharing. On August 1, 2011, HHS issued interim final regulations on preventive services, including requirements that insurers cover birth control with no cost-sharing. On August 3, 2011, HHS issued an amendment to the final regulations. On February 15, 2012, HHS issued final rules “authorizing the exemption of group health plans and group health insurance coverage sponsored by certain religious employers from having to cover certain preventive health services.” Also on February 15, 2012, HHS issued an issue brief estimating that 54 million Americans had received preventive benefits without cost-sharing. On August 1, 2012, HHS began requiring most new and renewing health plans to provide women’s preventive health services, including contraception, with no cost-sharing. HHS issued a brief estimating that 47 million women will receive coverage for these services without cost sharing.”
Health Insurance, Medicare Insurance and Dental Insurance
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