Data Is Starting To Pull Curtain Back On Health Costs, But There’s Still A Long Way To Go
Experts hope the extra transparency, though, will change Americans' behavior as consumers. In other news on medical costs, the toll of the Las Vegas shooting, Medicare billing and virtual doctors.
Georgia Health News:
Are Our Health Care Prices Not As Reasonable As We Thought?
The prices of health care services have long been opaque to the average person. Individuals often don’t know whether they are being overcharged or not. But recent efforts by health insurers, state legislatures and private firms have begun to reveal more information about the cost of care for consumers. Still, the picture is not always crystal clear. As comparative information on health care prices has become more available in recent years, Atlanta and Georgia typically rank below the national averages. But a new comparison of hospital outpatient costs shows the opposite about metro Atlanta — with its hospitals ranking above the national average, and indeed among the most costly in the nation. (Miller, 11/13)
Las Vegas Massacre May Add More Than $1 Billion To Insurer Costs
The deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history is adding to soaring costs for insurance companies, which are already taking a beating this year from an onslaught of hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires. The industry may have to shell out more than $1 billion for the Las Vegas massacre, insurance executives say. Acts of a solo gunman, who killed almost 60 people and injured about 500 others when he fired into the crowd of a country music festival last month from his Mandalay Bay hotel room, have resulted in multiple lawsuits. Victims have accused the hotel and its owner, MGM Resorts International, and concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment Inc., of failing to protect people at the event. (Levitt and Vasak, 11/10)
Medicare Billing: Hospital "Observation" Can Cost You
Although Medicare doesn't cover general custodial nursing home care -- such as help with daily living, administering medicine, etc. -- it does pay for prescribed follow-up treatment in a skilled nursing facility with specialized care. To qualify for this benefit, though, Medicare patients must have previously stayed in a hospital for three days, not counting the day of discharge. Because [Mary] Higgins had been in the hospital five days, she and [Regina] Titus figured everything was all set. Except for one big problem: Higgins was admitted to the hospital under "observation" status. (Konrad, 11/13)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Virtual Doctor Visits Offer Patients A Convenient, Low-Cost Option
Twice this year, Wendy Harrop has gotten medical care that normally would have meant a trip to an urgent care clinic. The first time was for a sinus infection, the second for a spider bite. Both times she got the care she needed — and saved time and money. The service she used enables anyone to get medical care for simple conditions from a doctor or a nurse practitioner by telephone or, better still, by video chat using a computer, tablet or smartphone. ... Harrop’s experience shows why telehealth, particularly so-called virtual visits, is on its way to becoming an integral part of primary care. (Boulton, 11/13)