Aon Hewitt, the actuarial and benefits consulting firm, released its 2013 survey of health plan costs and found low increases this year with a big jump for 2014 (6 to 7%) -- significantly above the average FEHBP increase (3.7%) that OPM announced last month. The Aon Hewitt release also discusses how employers are addressing health plan issues.
Medscape discusses the importance of doctors considering and discussing with patients the cost of outpatient tests before ordering them. The article notes that by just checking a few boxes along with a pap smear the total cost of the test package can skyrocket from under $50 to $1000. Doctors are the front line on controlling healthcare costs.
A Med Xpress article discusses a study on emergency room use which quotes the study's author, a University of Michigan ER doctor as follows:
"Accessing the ER is a cultural learned behavior partly because the public knows that the ER is always open if they have difficulty accessing care," [Adrianne Haggins, M.D.] says. "We have to offer them alternatives once they are there, and better understand what factors drive them there. We need to coordinate with other ambulatory settings to help patients find providers and be aware of alternative settings to change patterns of healthcare seeking."
And, if the goal of reducing emergency visits is a priority, she says, then emergency providers and outpatient providers must work together to coordinate a patient's care after an emergency visit, including access to specialists when needed.The health plans can't do it alone.