A recent report by the New York Times
contained an excellent graphic
showing the current percentage of uninsured people in each state. The range is from a high of 24.6% in Texas to a low of 4.4% in Massachusetts.I have combined this rate with the most recently reported CDC rate of obesity
in each state to create what I call The Pain Index
. It is a simple sum of the two numbers.
The theory behind the total is that obesity is a rough guide for the level of unhealthiness in the population. My hypothesis is that, when insurance is made available to people, they will use it, roughly in proportion to the degree they are unhealthy.
Yes, I know this is a crude metric, but I think it will be a relatively good predictor of the rate of increase in health care costs in each state over the coming years. This will show up in the insurance premium rates offered in the health care exchanges and will also affect the need for state appropriations to pay for newly eligible Medicaid subscribers.
States with a Pain Index in the top decile are: Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Others with scores over 45 are Nevada, Florida, New Mexico, Georgia, Alaska, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, and West Virginia.
My advice to policy-makers: Get ready! My advice to health care CEOs: This would be a really good time to focus on quality, safety, and front-line driven process improvement as the most effective way to reduce your costs and improve efficiency.
Continue reading “The Pain Index”
Filed Under: THCB, The Insider's Guide To Health Care
Tagged: Costs, Insurance premiums, Obesity, Paul Levy, The pain index, Uninsurance
Dec 21, 2012
Conservatives call it the “malpractice crisis.” Public Citizen, a liberal non-profit consumer organization based in Washington D.C., calls it “The Great Medical Malpractice Hoax.”
No doubt you have read that ambulance-chasing lawyers have escalated their assault on health care providers, and that as a result, malpractice insurance premiums have been levitating, along with malpractice suits, further hiking the cost of medical care.
Various solutions have been floated, including “caps” on compensation for pain and suffering; “health courts” where expert judges replace juries; immunity for doctors who follow “best practice guidelines;” and “full disclosure” policies which urge doctors and hospitals to move quickly to disclose errors, apologize, and offer compensation.
In the end, the best solutions would make malpractice reform part of heath care reform. Our malpractice system should be redesigned to reduce medical mistakes, fully compensate patients who are injured by human error, reward doctors and hospitals that disclose errors, and penalize those that try to ”cover up.” When it comes to the cost of malpractice, reform should slash the exorbitant administrative costs built into an adversarial process that moves at a snail’s pace, while subjecting both plaintiffs and defendants to what a recent report from the American Enterprise Institute rightly describes as “inhumane.”
Continue reading “Myths about Medical Malpractice: Part 2 Crisis or Hoax?”
Filed Under: OP-ED, Physicians, THCB
Tagged: Insurance premiums, Maggie Mahar, Malpractice, Overtreatment, Patients
Jul 12, 2011
Enactment of ObamaCare will open the floodgates for new federal mandates that insurers cover expensive wellness and alternative care services and send health insurance premiums soaring. While the New England Journal of Medicine says 50% of physicians will leave medicine because of ObamaCare, it’s more likely that the number of practicing physicians will shrink by 10% to 15% over the next five years. This will force Congress to boost payments to physicians to keep them in Medicine and to get them to accept more Medicaid and Medicare benefiaries. So taxes and Medicare premiums will rise even faster. ObamaCare encourages more people and employers to drop health insurance and game the system. Therefore, we’ll see as many uninsured Americans citizens who aren’t covered by various government programs as we see now. But they may be the higher-income folks who are smart enough to game the system.
Meanwhile, the hospitals who think that they will be the biggest winners because there will be fewer uninsured and few patients whose bills won’t be covered by the government will wind up the big losers. State and federal legislators will tax the not-for-profits and cut margins for the investor-owned hospitals to the bone. Long-run, they’ll lose physicians and money. Same for drug companies. Now that politicians control health insurance companies and markets more than ever, they’ll use the insurers and various forms of price and utilization controls to make the pharmas unprofitable.
Democrats who lose their seats in November will become rich lobbyists until Republicans take power and put them out of business.
People Who Are Smart About Money Won’t Buy Health Insurance Until They Get Sick
ObamaCare will give working Americans who are smart about money strong financial incentives to become and stay uninsured until they need catastrophically expensive health care. If they recover and no longer need insurance, they’ll drop it until the next time. The number of people who can afford to buy health insurance today but don’t is about 15 million. In five years, it could be several multiples of that.
Economists are just figuring it out here and here. Even liberal bloggers are getting it.
Don Johnson blogs at The Business Word Inc. Between 1976 and 1986 he was editor of Modern Healthcare magazine. As its top editor, Don helped build Modern Healthcare, a Crain Communications Inc. publication, into the hospital industry’s leading business magazine and one of the top magazines in the country.
Filed Under: Uncategorized
Tagged: Don johnson, Insurance premiums, Insurers, Taxes
Apr 8, 2010