Insurers Shift More Costs To Patients; Washington Insurance Commissioner Questions Surpluses
More insurers are shifting a growing amount of the cost of providing care to patients, Kaiser Health News reports. In other insurer news, UnitedHealth will overhaul how it pays doctors, and Washington's state insurance commissioner is asking for permission to consider insurer surpluses when mulling proposed insurance rate increases.
Kaiser Health News: Consumers Hit By Higher Out-of-Network Medical Costs
Kaiser Health News reporter Julie Appleby writes: "When Sharon Smith chose an out-of-network specialist to perform a complicated jaw surgery on her teenage son last May, she knew it would cost her more. But she was not expecting a $15,000 difference. Consumers have long complained about the cost of going outside their health plan's network, but Smith encountered a new twist: a growing number of insurers have changed the way they calculate reimbursements to shift more of the expense to patients" (Appleby, 2/9).
The Wall Street Journal: New Way To Pay Doctors
Efforts to change how Americans pay for health care are gathering momentum on a national scale as UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest U.S. health insurer, becomes the latest carrier to say it is overhauling its fees for medical providers. ... Under the new plan the carrier is rolling out, part of medical providers' compensation could be tied to goals such as avoiding hospital readmissions and ensuring patients get recommended screenings (Wilde Mathews, 2/9).
The Seattle Times: 3 Big Health Insurers Stockpile $2.4 Billion As Rates Keep Rising
Most publicly traded companies sitting on a pile of cash face a lot of sharp questions from shareholders, often accompanied by demands to fork it over as dividends. Nonprofit health-insurance companies in Washington don't have shareholders. But they are facing demands for the $2.4 billion they've amassed while handing steep rate hikes to customers. State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is again asking lawmakers to give him the power to consider a nonprofit health insurer's surplus before he agrees to any rate increase (Ostrom, 2/8).
The Sacramento Bee: Over-The-Counter Remedies To Consider
Many people in the United States have no health insurance, and many more are underinsured or have very high deductibles, which require them to pay significant amounts of cash for medical services before any insurance coverage kicks in. As our current health care crisis continues to unfold, more people will be using the Internet to make their own diagnoses and figure out their own treatment plans before considering entering the medical system. In this light, let's look at some common medical concerns, along with some over-the-counter remedies you can try to help you feel better without having to make a trip to the doctor (Judge and Barish-Wreden, 2/9).