Two new studies show patients are being increasingly burdened with a greater share of healthcare costs, which requires providers, including medical labs, to collect more money from patients at time of service
Although wage increases remain stagnant, consumers now pay a steadily increasing share of their healthcare costs. That’s because of rising deductibles, co-insurance, and other out-of-pocket costs. Not only will this cost-sharing trend continue to stretch patients’ budgets, it also will apply more pressure on clinical laboratories and pathology groups to increase price transparency for patients.
A recent study at the University of Michigan (UM), published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), highlighted the growth in out-of-pocket insurance costs for hospitalized patients. For the average consumer with private health insurance, costs rose from $738 in 2009 to $1,013 in 2013—a 37% increase. During that same 4-year period, overall healthcare spending grew at 2.9% per year and health insurance premiums went up 5.1% annually.
Two types of health insurance plan charges were responsible for the biggest change in out-of-pocket spending: deductibles and co-insurance. During the same period, deductibles rose by 86%! Co-insurance costs increased 33% over the same period. Co-payments (a flat fee) were used in fewer hospitalizations. (more…)
Elements of Obamacare specifically support employer programs designed to improve the health of employees
Who would have believed that, after passage of the Affordable Care Act back in 2010, a fast-growing trend would be that of employers spending more money to develop employee wellness programs and offer medical clinics within corporate facilities? At a minimum, this development creates new opportunities for clinical laboratories to be direct providers of medical laboratory testing services to corporations.
Employee Wellness Programs Incorporate Medical Laboratory Testing
There is a simple reason why employers are jumping on the employee wellness bandwagon. Evidence demonstrates that incentivizing employees to live a healthier lifestyle can help reduce the cost of providing health insurance. It can also contribute to less absenteeism and increased employee productivity, both of which are important benefits to employers.
New data affirming this trend can be found in the 2013 Health Care Survey conducted annually by AON. AON is a global re-insurer that provides risk management services, insurance, and human resources solutions. About half of all U.S. employers now offer employee wellness programs, according to a recent study by Rand Corp., an independent think tank based in Santa Monica, California.
Pathology groups and clinical laboratories have opportunity to use mHealth to add value to clinicians
Experts predict that healthcare’s use of mobile apps—now being described as mHealth—will evolve into a distinct and primary information channel that will play a significant role in clinical care. This includes how anatomic and clinical pathologists use laboratory medicine to support clinical care.
“[M]obile is a technology that winds its way through everything we’re doing and we’re planning to do,” declared Bryan Sivak, Chief Technology Officer at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), in a recent story published in Modern Healthcare (MH).”[It is] a channel to deliver content… a great way for us to collect more real-time information and connect physicians and patients with each other.” (more…)
CIOs across America are concerned that their hospitals might not make the 2015 meaningful use deadline
For all the excitement about hospital and physician adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems, many CIOs of the nation’s leading health systems and hospitals are pessimistic about their organization’s ability to meet “meaningful use” (MU) requirements by the year 2015.
This is probably not news to most pathologists and clinical laboratory managers working in hospital laboratories. Generally, members of their medical laboratory team are usually part of every hospital’s EHR implementation task force, since clinical laboratory test data makes up a significant portion of the typical patient health record.