KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Employers Eye Defined Contribution Health Coverage

In other news on health care marketplace issues, TriWest loses its challenge to the Pentagon's new contract for military health care, and researchers find prices increasing for children's care.

Chicago Tribune: With Health Care Law Upheld, Employers Weigh Shift To Defined Contribution Insurance Plan
Many Chicago-area employers have remained on the sidelines with their employee health plans, waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether the 2010 health care overhaul passed constitutional muster. But with the court's decision last week to uphold most of the law, companies may pursue a historic change. Many employers are quietly considering a move away from traditional defined benefit plans and toward defined contribution plans, which set aside a fixed amount of money each year for employees to use toward health care costs (Frost, 7/3).

Politico: Poll: Fewer Insured Through Work
Fewer Americans are getting health insurance from their employer, a continuation of a trend that started in 2008, according to a new Gallup poll out Thursday. Only 55.9 percent of adults aged 26 to 64 received employer-provided health insurance in 2012, down from 61.6 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, however, the percentage of 18 to 25 year olds receiving health insurance from their employer seems to have stabilized at 31.9 percent since experiencing a drop from 2008 to 2010. Young adults have become less likely to be uninsured since the fall of 2010, when the Affordable Care Act's provision allowing those under the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ plans went into effect, reports Gallup (Mak, 7/5).

Chicago Sun-Times: Long-Term Care Insurance Takes A Hit
It’s happening again. Another long-term care insurance company is limiting the coverage it will offer in the future. While other insurers have raised premiums, Genworth has just announced that it will suspend offering some of its most appealing policy options. The changes will take place after July 29 (Savage, 7/4).

Bloomberg: TriWest Fights to Survive After Losing UnitedHealth Protest
TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp., the closely held company built on providing military medical services, is weighing its next move after unsuccessfully challenging a $20.5 billion UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) contract.  The Government Accountability Office, which arbitrates contract disputes, denied a protest from Phoenix-based TriWest yesterday over the Pentagon’s March decision to give the contract to UnitedHealth.  TriWest, which has about 1,700 employees, must now decide whether to file additional challenges to the contract awarded to the nation’s largest health insurer, or sacrifice the source of almost all its revenue (Miller, 7/3).

Meanwhile in other news about the health care marketplace:

Kaiser Health News: Report: Spending On Children's Care Rose Because Of Higher Prices
Health care spending is growing significantly faster for children than for adults, and a new report finds that that’s largely because of price increases (Torres, 7/3).

Kaiser Health News: Doc Payments Show Underbelly Of Pill Marketing
How do pharmaceutical companies boost sales and drive up health costs? Pay celebrity doctors to talk about their pills. Take doctors on lavish junkets. Misrepresent research. Push pills. ... Documents unsealed as part of GlaxoSmithKline’s settlement with federal prosecutors, however, offer a rare look at the details (Hancock, 7/3).  

Modern Healthcare: Consumer Reports Releases Hospitals Safety Ratings
Consumer Reports has released individualized safety ratings for more than 1,100 hospitals, becoming just the latest organization to issue facility-specific marks based on measures such as readmissions, medication safety and healthcare-associated infections. Hospitals -- 1,159 in 44 states -- were scored on a 100-point scale. More than half of hospitals received an overall safety score below 50%, Consumer Reports said in a news release. ... Nearly 500 facilities received the lowest possible score for communication about medications and discharge planning, the group added (McKinney, 7/5).

Earlier from KHN: Rating Doctors Is Tricky, But Consumer Reports Does It In Mass.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Mayo Goes Shopping For Patients
At Mall of America, the Mayo Clinic is tearing a page from the retail playbook: Get a shopper in for a health consultation and possibly win a patient for life. Through its Healthy Living store and health clinic, Mayo is spreading the word about its growing list of services as it mulls an expansion at the nation's largest mall. Customers can stop in for a massage. Purchase a heart monitor. And if they're in need of organ transplant advice, the outlet now offers that, too (Moskop, 7/3).

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