Physician Patient

Archive for May, 2019

Empowered Employees: Employers are key to true Consumer-directed Health Care Reform

Friday, May 31st, 2019

https://www.wsj.com/articles/some-middlemen-reduce-health-care-costs-11559241151

https://www.wsj.com/articles/cut-out-the-medical-middlemen-11558294424?mod=article_inline

https://www.activatehealthcare.com/about-us/news/paladina-health-acquires-activate-healthcare-to-amplify-impact-of-primary-care-nationwide

Can employees benefit directly financially from employer-funded health care programs? If so, let’s discuss the evidence.

Companies like Activate (above) sell Direct Primary Care products to their employer clients. These are claimed to be cost-effective to the employer’s bottom line.

However, we must do better. Health care funding products should incentivize patients (consumers) to make cost-effective health care choices when evaluating and shopping for their health care. Are there “insurance” products available to employers which reward employees immediately and directly when they make (prudent) health care choices? What, in addition to funding patient controlled HSAs and HRAs, are employers willing to do to reward their employees (patients) when they seek out cost-effective medical care?
If employers see employee empowerment as being in their business interest (and we think it clearly is), this will be a boon to independent medical practices who (by definition) in providing personalized care seek to reduce health care costs by helping their patients to know and compare (whenever practical or feasible) real time health care prices for their medical care services and products (including medications).

MPPA Meeting Minutes: May 16, 2019

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Those present: President Lee Beecher MD, Bob Geist MD (RWG), Carl Burkland MD, Wayne Zuehlke CPA, Rick Morris MD, John Tyler, Tim Herman, Dave Feinwachs JD, PhD, and Lyle Swenson, MD.

Please note: my comments are in [brackets]

 

Minutes of the Feb 26, 2019 meeting were circulated to all before the meeting.

MPPA website update www.physician-patient.org recommended by president Lee Beecher. The group approved $750 to revise the site. Lee will coordinate efforts with MPPA webmaster Kevin Hauge in consultation with the MPPA Board of Directors (see the tab “Who We Are”). We want to make our MPPA website a user-friendly and accurate resource for patients and families (health care consumers), professionals, employers, politicians, and the media interested in health care competition in Minnesota, informed patient and family (consumer) choices, and price transparency for services and products. The site will : 1. Include online links to Minnesota independent medical practices and consumer-directed health care insurance products. 2.  Highlight current health care policy discussions and opinion/inputs from contributors to the MPPA Listserv.

 

1. Reference-based pricing of services and related insurance—Dave Racer.

 Here is the link to a video of Dave Racer’s presentation—https://meedah.org/physicians. Just below the website picture, you see on the left the video—hit the start button >. I think you will find this in person presentation far more intriguing and informative than my too brief summary:

  • Legislation to approve RBP can be found in MN Revisor’s web site; see SF 2814. [The bill is blessedly brief—an easy read so look it over—RWG]
  • The reference price is the Medicare price, since it is ubiquitous with regional (state) and academic rate adjustments.
  • The related insurance products look like indemnity insurance—subd. 4 (c). Levels of insurance can vary widely. Racer gives examples, but “real time” plans in theory could be 100% to 300% or more of Medicare – although most likely they would be more like 175% for physician services, and 225% for facility charges or some such combination.
  • “Balance billing would be ideal”. [Let’s hope it is included, since clinics or hospitals will be subject to real open (free) market competition on price. Unfortunately, in Subd. 3(d)line 2.8 balance billing appears to be prohibited—RWG].
  • Clinic option is to accept insurance payment vs. assignment of benefits to the patient. The Racer version would accommodate balanced billing as the concept rests on patients and physicians dealing directly without interference. No MN insurance company allows assignment of benefits now.
  • Video highlights
  • Video highlights
    • 15:05—re reference-Based Pricing (RBP)
    • 17:55—4 hospital and 4 clinics examples.
    • 21:41—Insurance plan design.
    • 24:06—pricing insurance plans
    • 26:12—balance billing.
    • 30—assignment of benefits or not
    • 29:30—for doctors
    • 1300good for the nation

2. A Legislative issue for 2020: HF 2639, SF 3601 Mr. John Tyler. [This is a big bill that is not easy to summarize—RWG.]

 

  1. a) Health insurance underwriting, renewability, and benefit requirements modified; Minnesota health risk pool program created; unified personal health premium account creation allowed; Minnesota health contribution program created; health plan market rules eliminated; and waivers requested. [This is the Revisor’s summary—RWG].
  2. b) House File 2639/SF 3601 Bill Summary [The following is John Tyler’s summary—RWG.]

Introduction:  The Affordable Care Act has imposed narrow open enrollment periods for privately-owned coverage and federal mandates for coverage and tax penalties through 2018.  The purpose of this bill is to reintroduce fundamentally sound underwriting and basic insurance principals that allow for premium affordability, enhanced coverage tailored to the consumer’s needs and a more stable market at all fully insured levels.  “A formula for affordability” for all fully insured plans in Minnesota.

 

  1. Privately-Owned, Affordable Individual Coverage: Lines 11.26 – 26.5, Article 2.  Re-invents the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association with the (MHRA).  Not a reinsurance plan – a high-risk pool.  Cedes adverse risk to the new MHRA at time of application.  Underwriting is restored allowing for standard and preferred-risk rating for those that qualify, estimated 70% to 75% of applicants.  Rating +25% or – 25% off-of standard rating.  Guaranteed-issue with underwriting to establish preferred-risk rates for applicants.
  2. Small Employer Groups (2 – 49 covered employee lives) Affordable Coverage Restoration:
  • Mid-Sized Employer Group (50 – 100 covered employee-lives) Affordable Coverage Implementation:
  1. Re-establishes Pre-existing Condition Clause Penalty for Those W/O Previous Coverage Only: Lines 6.5 – 6.13, Lines 7.27 – 8.6, Lines 4.18 – 6.13. All fully-insured contracts for those applying for coverage without prior coverage – meaning does not apply to individuals that have maintained coverage without a break of 63 days or longer.  Motivates maintaining continuous coverage without imposing penalties that are a disincentive to becoming insured.  Conditions diagnosed during prior 6 months of the start of coverage are not covered for the next 12 months of active coverage.  All other conditions covered.  and large groups and short-term individual plans and all government plan coverages qualify as “prior coverage.”  Motivates maintaining continuous coverage without a break.
  2. Defines the Sole Purpose of the Health Care Access Fund to be the funding of Minnesota Health Risk Association (MCHA 2.0). 20
  3. Defines the Funding of the MN Health Risk Association and Transfers from the Health Care Access Fund:

Reinstates the Healthy Minnesota Defined Contribution Program:  Lines 29.6 – 30.22.  Once passed into MN Law, it uses a choice of private individual policies with a government subsidy for those MNCare income earners at 200% of federal poverty and up.

 

  1. Legislative 2019 wrap-up and 2020 speculation[cancelled since legislature entanglements prevent Sen. Scott Jensen from attending, while Rep Glenn Gruenhagen was going on TV at the time of the meeting—RWG].

 

  1. MPPA legislative patient-clinic protection issues: These issues are not on this May 16 agenda—.
    • Free market alternatives,
    • Threats to kill Stark law—so far, only at federal level.
    • MN Legislature Resolution to repeal 2011 ACO-HMO waivers of patient protection laws including legalized bedside kickbacks (bribes) for rationing care.
    • FMAs for Medicaid briefing—HF 2873, Gruenhagen
    • AWP and patient freedom to choose providers
    • Patient financial bill of rights.
    • Models of national health insurance: the Scandinavian experience, US single payer proposals, and Medicare overhead vs. private insurance
  • SF 399 provider tax
    • Matt Flander’s article analyzing the 2% provider tax.
  • a preliminary briefing on the April 17 MN Supreme Court Decision on Warren v Dinter—the MMA position on the liability of a corporate ‘team physician’ employee.
    • Transparency amendments;
    • “Analyzing The House E&C Committee’s Bipartisan Surprise Out-Of-Network Billing Proposal.” Paul B. Ginsburg, Mark Hall, Erin Trish. The Trump administration has set the goal of transparency in pricing to avoid ‘surprise’

o   Apropos is the proposed MN bill: Mandate posting of pre-ante pricing of common bundled services for individuals. We have an unbundled problem. Hospitals are gaming the CMS transparency mandate. CMS’s transparency doesn’t work—unusable endless coding prices, surprise billings post care. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/healthcare/after-trumps-blessing-house-rolls-out-plan-to-end-surprise-medical-bills

 

  1. Next meeting to be announced.

 

Again, our thanks to Dr. Charles Crutchfield for his kindness in lending his office meeting room and for the wonderful help of his staff: Kelly and Allison.

 

Robert W. Geist, Secretary