News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel

News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Collecting from Patients May Get Tougher When New ACA Financial Rules for Non-profit Hospitals Became Effective January 1, 2014

The IRS is authorized to strip tax-exempt status from ‘willful and flagrant’ violators of ACA financial rules; pathologists and clinical laboratory managers should take notice

Hospitals and other providers already find it more difficult to collect larger amounts of money from patients who have high deductible health plans (HDHPs). That degree of difficulty increased on January 1, 2014. That’s the date when new regulations of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) kicked in that govern how hospitals can collect money from patients or extend financial aid to them.

Non-profit hospitals need to pay attention to the new requirements set forth by the ACA law. It is likely that these new rules will affect most hospital laboratory managers and hospital-based pathology organizations. That’s because these new rules will affect six out of 10 of the nation’s hospitals. (more…)

Hospitals Generally Charge Self-pay Patients Top Price for Care, but Some Providers Now Offer Deep Discounts for Patients Who Pay with Cash

Clinical laboratories and pathology groups may want to review the prices they charge insured patients versus uninsured patients

There is a certain irony in the fact that hospitals and other medical providers typically charge patients without health insurance as much as three times what they charge Medicare or an insured patient. This situation is getting increased media scrutiny, which is one reason why clinical laboratories and pathology groups may want to review their own policies for charging patients without health insurance.

One good study on prices charged to self-pay patients was conducted by Gerard Anderson, Ph.D.,  a health economist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His study was funded by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and published in the May-June 2007 journal Health Affairs.

Anderson analyzed 2004 hospital billing data. He concluded that the gap between rates charged self-pay and insured patients has grown substantially since the mid-1980s. “In the 1950s, the uninsured and poor were charged the lowest prices for medical services. Today they pay the highest prices…,” wrote Anderson, noting that self-pay charges often reflect the hospital’s “chargemaster” prices–the top prices used to negotiate discounts with insurers. (more…)

California’s New Health Insurance Exchange May be Unexpectedly Low, but Co-pays for Outpatient Services Are Relatively High

High Co-pays for Lab Tests May Create a Collection Nightmare for Clinical Laboratories
As new facts about the prices of premiums and the amount of patient co-pays for California’s health information exchange—called Covered California—are published, the news is not likely to be favorable for clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups in the Golden State.

Of particular note is that Covered California has published a requirement that patients will be charged a $35 co-pay for medical laboratory testing. Some lab industry executives have pointed out that it will be a challenge to collect these co-pays. They expect labs will incur higher costs attempting to collect these co-pays while at the same time seeing a substantial increase in levels of bad debt. However, all of this will not happen until 2014, when Covered California begins providing health insurance coverage.

For one category of insured beneficiaries, there is a bit of good news. Insurance exchange premiums for individuals not covered by employer health plans will be lower than previously expected. Covered California will charge, on average, $321 per month on average for the “Silver,” medium-tier plan, noted Peter V. Lee, Executive Director of Covered California, in a report published by the Wall Street Journal. (more…)