Posts Tagged ‘Medicare drug premiums’

Healthcare Business Week in Review: Hospital Surgery Ratings, Long-Term Care Costs, Medicare Drug Plans

August 9th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller


Location, location, location.

While it definitely impacts the price of real estate, it doesn’t necessarily influence a hospital’s surgery rating, according to Consumer Reports’ first ratings survey on how patients fare during and after surgery.

In fact, some hospitals do a much better job than others, despite their location. The report reflects wide variation, sometimes between hospitals only a few miles apart. For example, the Greater Baltimore Medical Center earned high marks on the overall surgery rating, as well as for several individual procedures, but the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, also in Baltimore, got a low overall surgery rating.

The report, detailed inside, includes overall surgery ratings, which combines results for 27 categories of scheduled surgeries, as well as individual ratings for five specific procedure types: back surgery, hip replacement, knee replacement, angioplasty and carotid artery surgery. They are important because up to 30 percent of hospital patients suffer infections, heart attacks, strokes, or other complications after surgery, but these records are largely hidden from consumers, Consumer Reports says.

Another area of concern that has largely been hidden from consumers is the high cost of medical errors, according to the Leapfrog Group.

A new tool is available to counter this costly trend — the Hidden Surcharge Calculator tool — which allows purchasers to calculate how much they spend annually on unnecessary costs due to hospital errors that occur within general acute care hospitals.

Reports estimate that purchasers can pay nearly $8,000 per patient in hidden surcharges due to medical errors; for employers with 1,000 hospital admissions per year that cost can near a whopping $8 million in avoidable fees, not to mention harm to patients. Every year, more than 180,000 Medicare beneficiaries die from hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), errors, accidents and injuries.

Purchasers can use the calculator to enter their own claims data and local hospital safety ratings from Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score Web site to learn the estimated hidden surcharge they pay annually for hospital errors.

More news on not-so hidden costs of long-term care: they continued to increase across all provider options, according to a study from the John Hancock Life Insurance Company (John Hancock).

Already high, within the last five years, costs for senior living facilities rose anywhere from 2 percent for an assisted living facility ($41,124 annually) to nearly 4 percent for a private nursing home room ($94,170.) Considered to be one of the most significant uninsured financial risks an individual can face, according to John Hancock officials, the company updated its interactive cost of care map and calculator to reflect the latest findings, and make long-term care costs planning easier.

And lastly, some good financial news: Medicare drug premiums remained stable for four straight years in a row, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The average premium for a basic prescription drug plan in 2014 was expected to remain stable at an estimated $31 per month. More than 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs since the ACA was implemented, an average of $1,061 per beneficiary, the HHS said.