Human resource directors often rely on independent health insurance brokers to guide them through confusing benefit options offered by insurance companies. But what many don’t fully realize is how the health insurance industry steers the process through lucrative financial incentives and commissions, the cost of which are built into premiums. In other health industry and cost news: affordability, the business of specialty surgeries, health record costs, and more.
ProPublica: Behind the Scenes, Health Insurers Use Cash and Gifts to Sway Which Benefits Employers Choose
The pitches to the health insurance brokers are tantalizing. “Set sail for Bermuda,” says insurance giant Cigna, offering top-selling brokers five days at one of the island’s luxury resorts. Health Net of California’s pitch is not subtle: A smiling woman in a business suit rides a giant $100 bill like it’s a surfboard. “Sell more, enroll more, get paid more!” In some cases, its ad says, a broker can “power up” the bonus to $150,000 per employer group. (Allen, 2/20)
Dallas Morning News: ‘Still The Prices, Stupid’: Why High Health Costs Matter In Dallas-Fort Worth
Health care prices are garnering attention again, and for good reason. America spends more on health than any country and generally doesn’t get better outcomes. In Dallas-Fort Worth, health spending is among the highest anywhere. In January, hospitals were required to start posting their list prices. While a positive step, the numbers don’t reﬂect negotiated rates with insurers or deductibles and other cost-sharing. (Schnurman and Joseph, 2/19)
Dallas Morning News: Doctors Go On Trial To Defend Payments For Bringing Lucrative Surgeries To Controversial Dallas Hospital
It was hailed as a new and innovative model for doctor-owned hospitals, but the Forest Park Medical Center miracle ended in bankruptcy and federal fraud indictments. The once-successful Dallas-based hospital chain that earned tens of millions of dollars from specialty surgeries is now linked in federal court documents to numerous allegations of criminality, involving multiple hospitals, physicians, pharmacies and medical businesses. (Krause, 2/19)
The Star Tribune: Mayo Clinic Income Steady Despite Health Record Costs
Mayo Clinic’s operating income held steady in 2018 despite higher expenses with the switch to a new computer system for electronic health records at its largest medical centers. The Rochester-based clinic released 2018 financial results on Tuesday that featured operating income of $706 million, comparable to the 2017 earnings, on $12.6 billion in revenue. (Snowbeck, 2/19)
Modern Healthcare: CommonSpirit Health’s CHI Posts $424 Million Loss In Latest Quarter
Catholic Health Initiatives was hit by the sharp year-end downturn in the stock market in 2018, posting a bottom line loss of $424.3 million, a $627 million swing from the year-earlier quarterly profit of $203.6 million. CHI, which just merged with Dignity Health to form CommonSpirit Health based in Chicago, posted a non-operating loss of $362.8 million driven by $331 million in investment losses and $29.8 million in losses tied to interest rate swap agreements, according to the system’s fiscal second-quarter earnings report. (Barr, 2/19)
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Families Grieving A Pregnancy Loss Hit Especially Hard By Medical Bills: ‘I Wasn’t Prepared At All’
Health insurance plans are required to cover pregnancy and childbirth to a certain extent. But families can easily rack up thousands of dollars in medical bills for extra ultrasounds, tests, and procedures that aren’t covered in full by their plan. Similarly, the procedure Collier had after her miscarriage, a dilation and curettage (D&C), was covered by insurance — but not entirely. (Grantz, 2/19)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
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