Mnet Health News delivers the latest news and information articles for the world of healthcare.

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David Brooks

David Brooks

New Rules Could Save $9 Billion Over Ten Years

Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of a new rule on Aug. 7, 2012 that aims to cut red tape for doctors, hospitals and health plans. The regulation adopts operating rules for making health care claim payments electronically and describing adjustments to claim payments.

Studies have found that the average physician spends three weeks a year on billing and insurance related tasks, and, in a physician's office, two-thirds of a fulltime employee per physician is necessary to conduct these tasks. Many physician practices and hospitals receive and deposit paper checks, and manually post and reconcile the health care claim payments in their accounting systems. By receiving payments electronically and automating the posting of the payments, a physician practice and hospital's administrative time and costs can be decreased.

The operating rules build upon industry-wide health care electronic fund transfer (EFT) standards that HHS adopted in January of this year. Together, the previously issued EFT standards and the EFT and electronic remittance advice (ERA) operating rules are projected to save between $2.7 billion and more than $9 billion in administrative costs over ten years by reducing inefficient manual administrative processes for physician practices, hospitals, and health plans.


Written by Pulse

Growth in Family Health Premiums Outpaces Growth in Wages and Inflation

Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $15,745 this year, with workers on average paying $4,316 toward the cost of their coverage, according to a recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust. This reflects a 4-percent increase in premiums from last year.

Although this year's rise in premiums is low compared with other years, it has outpaced the growth in workers' wages (1.7 percent) and general inflation (2.3 percent).

The survey also revealed significant differences in the benefits and premium contribution of workers in lower-wage firms (at least 35 percent of workers earn $24,000 or less per year) versus higher-wage firms (at least 35 percent of workers earn $55,000 or more per year).

According to the survey, workers at lower-wage firms on average pay $1,000 more each year out of their paychecks for family coverage than workers at higher-wage firms ($4,997 and $3,968, respectively), despite the fact that lower wage firms pay less on average in total premiums.

In addition, the survey found that workers at lower-wage firms are more likely to face high deductibles than those at higher-wage firms. Specifically, 44 percent of covered workers at lower-wage firms face an annual deductible of $1,000 or greater, compared with 29 percent of workers at higher-wage firms.


Written by Pulse

Number of Uninsured Declines

The U.S. Census Bureau's report, Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011, showed that the number of people without health insurance coverage declined from 50 million in 2010 to 48.6 million in 2011. The number of people with health insurance increased to 260.2 million in 2011 from 256.6 million in 2010.

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