HIN Trends Expert Tells CNN about Costs of Uninsured, Underinsured

Thursday, March 5th, 2009
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Dr. David Chin, who said healthcare is “no longer recession-proof” during HIN Trends ’09, told CNN today about factors contributing to rising healthcare costs.

In a response to a report on expenses generated by growing numbers of uninsured and underinsured, Dr. Chin, a national partner in the Health Industries Advisory Practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the managing partner of PwC’s global Healthcare Research Institute, told CNN that “Many people without adequate insurance are also delaying or forgoing medical care until it becomes an absolute emergency.” The report estimates that in addition to rising numbers of uninsured, nearly 25 million Americans can’t afford to cover the gap between what their insurance covers and their medical bills demand.

Late last year, Dr. Chin described the global implications of these costs during Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2009:

Our 2007 Global CEO survey found that 83 percent of global CEOs feel that the high cost of healthcare can cause U.S.-based employers to be less competitive, compared to international counterparts that don’t have the burden of employer-based health insurance. Even before the recession, the ability of global companies to pass on cost increases to the consumer were relatively limited. Globally, we’ve seen a real pressure on prices for all sectors of the economy.

Looking at employers’ trends in cost management approaches, the number one strategy is helping employees manage their own health to reduce costs. The second is providing adequate coverage or access but then limiting their costs — i.e. increasing copays — and then having employees take on more responsibility, which is a combination of both providing employees tools to manage their own healthcare and giving them more skin in the game.

For providers in particular, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on eligibility and revenue cycle processes, to make sure that those paying patients in fact are paying patients and that you get the maximum reimbursement. You can expect to see more pay for performance programs; if you don’t have the infrastructure to gear up for that, you will need it. Also, if you look at the waste in healthcare, a lot of it is in the variations in practice.

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