What do you know about healthcare spending?

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Healthcare spending has been a hot topic for years, but have you ever wondered what you really know?

MedPage Today recently sponsored a quick five question survey that provides a great fact-check for five important issues. The survey was designed by Paul Hughes-Cromwick, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Health Spending at the Altarum Institute, a nonprofit health systems research and consulting organization headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The survey asks five questions about total U.S. healthcare spending, ...

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Study finds Wisconsin has high healthcare prices

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A study released this month by the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute found that Wisconsin has the second highest healthcare prices among the 41 states it surveyed. The study was based on claims data from UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, and Humana, which the Institute said represents 34% of total commercial claims in Wisconsin. The study found that prices in Wisconsin for over 200 common medical services were on average 81% higher than the national average, and that the ...

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New Provider-Carrier Partnerships Expand Across Wisconsin

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The first four months of 2016 have already seen three new partnerships announced between Wisconsin health systems and insurance companies. Looking down the road, it appears that provider-led health plans may soon become a major force in Wisconsin health insurance.

In January, Aspirus and WPS Health Solutions announced that they are forming a new health insurance company in north-central Wisconsin that will be called Aspirus Arise Health Plan of Wisconsin. In April, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue ...

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Is Retail Medicine Really a Smart Choice?

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Smart Choice MRI and ThedaCare announced this month that the Appleton-based health system is investing $3 million in the Mequon-based stand-alone MRI provider. In the announcement, ThedaCare’s senior vice president of Systems of Care Support, Keith Livingston, described the partnership as a collaboration with a competitor that is “consistent with our need to learn how to better meet consumers’ needs in the evolving retail health marketplace.” Livingston also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “[h]ealth care ...

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Drug Costs Continue To Rise

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Although the rate at which overall health costs are rising is historically low, employers, experts, and politicians are expressing alarm at the rising cost of prescription drugs. According to a recent Aon analysis, the average health care rate increase for mid-size and large companies in 2015 was 3.2%. Prescription drug costs, however, jumped by 10% last year according to a report by Truveris that was publicized by the Business Health Care Group.

In general, hospital expenses account ...

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Spending deal would delay Cadillac Tax

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Earlier this month, the Senate approved a bill to repeal many core elements of Obamacare, including the “Cadillac tax” on high cost health plans. At the time the vote was seen as a symbolic act because the bill’s supporters lacked the votes necessary to overcome President Obama’s veto. Although Senate Democrats are opposed to repealing the President’s health reform law, there is bi-partisan support for modifying, delaying, or eliminating the Cadillac tax. Under a Continue Reading →

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Focus on Specialty Drug Costs

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The price of prescription drugs has been a well-known issue for decades. In recent months, however, the price of specialty drugs in particular has received increased attention on social media and from the mainstream media and candidates for President. Much of this attention focused on Turing Pharmaceuticals’ 5,000% price increase for Daraprim last month, but the cost of specialty drugs has been trending upwards for years.

According to Business Insurance magazine, group health plans’ specialty drug costs ...

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2016 Rate Review Submissions Filed

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires individual and small group rate increases that exceed 10% to be published, reviewed, and approved by state or federal regulators. This requirement does not apply to grandfathered health plans that predate the ACA. This rate review process is one of two ways the ACA addresses the issue of health plan costs, with the 80/20 Medical Loss Ratio being the other.

Rates for 2015 and 2016 are now available for public viewing at Continue Reading →

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Broker, Insurer Revenues Rise as Uninsured Rate and Wages Fall

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With tax day just one week away, many Americans are being reminded that 2014 was the first year they will have to pay a penalty for not having health insurance. The requirement to get health coverage is leading more and more people to sign up for health insurance and helping to reduce the rate of the uninsured. At the same time, these new customers are helping to bolster profits at the largest brokerages and insurance companies. The cost ...

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Public Exchange enrollment up 59% in Wisconsin

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As of February 22, a total of 207,349 Wisconsinites have enrolled in private health insurance through the public exchange, www.healthcare.gov. This total is up slightly from an estimate released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shortly after the close of the annual open enrollment period in February. The total also represents a 59% increase in enrollment over last year, when approximately 130,000 people in Wisconsin signed up on the public exchange during open enrollment.

Nearly a third ...

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