Thursday, April 25, 2013

Health Wonk Review: Money Tree edition

As maples and oaks begin to blossom, we turn our attention to another kind of tree, the much vaunted 'Pachira aquatica.' Well, knot really - ours is metaphoric in nature [ed: ISWYDT]. As I leafed through the submissions, it was easy to see where this was headed. Going out on a limb didn't appeal to me, so I decided to let the posts just naturally fall. Into place.

I do realize that some of these posts will be more poplar than others, but please give each one a fair shake. Thank you!

■ First up, Louise Norris takes a look at health insurance costs versus subsidies under the ACA. She notes that, for some folks, paying the penalty (versus premiums) makes good sense. On the other hand, she also points out that some (such as well-off seniors) may find the premiums a better deal.

■ Hospital blogger Brad Flansbaum is a fan (as are we) of transparency in health care. In his post, Brad explores how much financial info really is available to folks interested in knowing, for example, just how many dollars go where. Starting with a simple document (IRS Form 990) he drills right down to the truth.

■ The Sequester has been much in the news lately, from air traffic controllers to White House tours. HWR's co-founder Joe Paduda takes a look at its impact on health care; specifically, how it impacts Medicare (reimbursement cuts), genetic screenings ($365 million up in smoke) and a tidy list of others.

■ I've said this before, but it bears repeating: if you're not reading (my favorite health care economist) Jason Shafrin regularly, you're missing out on important info. This week, for example, Jason digs deep into Medicare Part D, and finds some interesting trends. For example, who knew that the low cost prescription plans were so popular? Well, you will, and you'll know why once you click on over.

■ Health Business Blogger David Williams reports on The Bay State's next big effort: to try to rein in health care costs. As MassCare served as a primary influence for the ACA, I think we're all interested in any lessons we can learn from their efforts.

■ Over at Health Care Renewal, Roy Poses has some sharp words for providers that take advantage of lower-skilled workers to pad exec's paychecks, and especially when the folks involved run an ostensibly charitable institution.

■ I really like this post from Peggy Salvatore: she manages to bring a very human perspective to a typically dry and impersonal subject. She takes a look at health insurance "back in the day" and contrasts it to what it's become (and becoming). She even manages to make MLR understandable; and if you don't know what MLR is, then all the more reason to check out her post).

■ Health Access blogger Anthony Wright takes a look at the President's proposed budget, noting that it includes full funding for the ACA and most of Medicaid. On the other hand, Medicare doesn't fare so well, and Anthony explores the President's priorities. Big dollars indeed.

John Goodman has a fascinating piece on a significant care coordination effort that brings together providers, patients and payers in a more cost- and treatment-effective way. He then explains how this concept can apply to a much bigger population (like, the US).

■ Guest blogging at Health Affairs, Paul Ellwood (considered the "father of managed health care") proposes a unique "indexing" system for health care that essentially converts Medicare from a fee-for-service to a capitated model in order to rein in runaway health care costs.

■ Of course, it wouldn't be a Heath Wonk Review without some blatant politics, but this one might surprise folks that know me as a "whinger:" The Stupid Party lives up to its name trying to throw more dollars down the PCIP drain, and is taken mightily to task for its efforts.

Joe Paduda hosts the next edition at Managed Care Matters on May 10th. I'm certainly rooting for him.
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