KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Washington Area Hospital Group Launches Health Insurance Plan

In other industry news, the growth of jobs in the health care sector could be a double-edged sword and hospitals seek a solution to "alarm fatigue."

The Washington Post: Is This The End Of Health Insurers?
In 2012, MedStar Health, like many large employers, struggled to keep up with rapidly rising health-care costs. For three years, the company held down premiums for its 19,000 employees by absorbing the increases itself. Most employers would have had no choice but to raise premiums — in this case, by about $550 for a family — and cope with frustrated employees. MedStar, one of the Washington area's largest health systems, saw another option. It would launch its own health insurance plan (Kliff, 7/5).

Earlier, related KHN story: Hospitals Look To Become Insurers, As Well As Providers Of Care (Rabin, 8/12/12) 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Economists Warn Surge In Health Care Jobs May Signal Trouble
The nation has grown increasingly dependent on health care as a creator of jobs, with the number of people working in the sector rising 22.7% during the past decade, compared with 2.1% for all other industries, a new report says. And in all 100 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas, including Milwaukee, more people work in health care now than before the start of the recession, according to the Brookings Institution report. The figures show the sector's resilience during the economic downturn and the slow recovery. But having a large percentage of jobs in health care may be a troubling sign, economists say (Boulton, 7/6).

The Washington Post: Too Much Noise From Hospital Alarms Poses Risk For Patients
Walk into a hospital intensive-care unit and hear the din: A ventilator honks loudly. An infusion pump emits a high-pitched beep-beep every six seconds. A blood pressure monitor pushes out one long tone after another. ... The sheer number — several hundred alarms per patient per day — can cause alarm fatigue. Nurses and other workers, overwhelmed or desensitized by the constant barrage, sometimes respond by turning down the volume on the devices, shutting them off or simply ignoring them — actions that can have serious, potentially fatal, consequences (Sun, 7/7).

Earlier, related KHN story: Sounding An Alarm On Alarms (Tran, 4/15).

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