December 26, 2011

ONLY CONSUMERS CAN DRIVE LOWER COSTS:

Health insurers slow rise in fees: Providers accepting moderate increases (Robert Weisman, December 26, 2011, Boston Globe)

Insurance companies also are offering customers, including employers and government groups, new programs ranging from wellness incentives at Tufts Health Plan to a Harvard Pilgrim Health Care service that rewards members for getting tests at lower-cost providers. Most important has been the growth of limited network plans that restrict where patients can get care and tiered networks higher payments for costlier providers.

"If you can choose a physician who is tops in quality and good on cost, it's a good choice,'' said James Roosevelt Jr., chief executive of Tufts Health Plan in Watertown, where every employee, including Roosevelt, will switch to a tiered plan Jan. 1.

But critics say the moves do not go far enough to ease the burden on cash-strapped small businesses and municipalities, which struggle to pay health insurance premiums that have climbed at double-digit rates for most of the past decade. They also say this year's more modest reimbursement increases were largely driven by a decline in the use of medical care, and to employers shifting some insurance costs to their workers through higher copayments and deductibles.

Posted by at December 26, 2011 9:36 AM
  

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