By paying for prescription drugs out-of-pocket, and not having them accumulate toward the maximum out-of-pocket amount for the health plan member helps the insurance company, not the consumer. Not having the drug costs go through the health plan could cost the consumer thousands of extra dollars in health care expenses because they did not meet their maximum out-of-pocket amount for the year.
The question no one can answer for me is if the expanded Medi-Cal HMO capitation rates have been decreasing because there are more healthy people in the Medi-Cal pool? Or are there other factors that are driving down the rates. There must be good money in Medi-Cal as Aetna, Blue Shield, and United Healthcare have all been approved to offer Medi-Cal HMO plans alongside other private health insurance companies such as Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Kaiser, and Molina.
In the case of this specialty genetic laboratory test, the lab billed $8,000 for the test. The health plan determined that the Allowable Amount was $3,000 for the test. The health plan paid 50% of the allowable amount in the form of a check to the plan member. Oddly, the Evidence of Billing indicated that none of the $8,000 claim was covered, even though they sent a check to the plan member for 50% cost-sharing for the test. Regardless, the plan member is still responsible for full $8,000 to the lab for the test.
Forcing either the health plans or the providers to post a list of costs for routine services is a very low impact way of adding consumer information to the health care market. The government is not telling the providers what they should charge. The government is not telling the health insurance companies what they should pay the providers. A law mandating a simple fee schedule like Kaiser Permanente has published will create price transparency and allow consumers to compare valuable health care cost information across a variety of health plans and providers. This will ultimately slow down the rate increases as providers compete not only on patient satisfaction, but on price as well.
However, I still don’t understand why the costs for services for Southern California Kaiser members are so much lower than prices for Northern California members. Does Kaiser just have more members in Southern California to spread the fixed costs of supplying the services over? Kaiser charges 29% more for a colonoscopy in Northern California than Southern California. Are more people getting colonoscopies in Southern California so the volumes of patients help drive down the costs?
With the expansion of Medicaid in California a large number individuals and families are now enrolled in a Medi-Cal health plan. The expanded Medi-Cal managed health care plans must cover all the same benefits as private health insurance purchased through Covered California. There is no cost to the consumer in terms of monthly premium, deductible, coinsurance or copayments. However, enrollment in these plans does cost something and I’m often asked how much these plans cost the tax payer.
Individual and family plans offered through Covered California in 2016 will include new pharmacy prescription drug benefits. The benefit, also mirrored in many off-exchange health plans, caps the amount a consumer must pay every month for a particular prescription. While that sounds straight forward, the rules surrounding any pharmacy deductible and tiered drug formulary can be complicated and confusing.
For years we have been told that the way to put the brakes to sky rocketing health insurance premiums was to let consumers shop and compare costs. While this pricing mechanism certainly works in markets where consumers have access to good comparative information, when it comes to shopping for health care services based on priced, your […]
One of the first options a Medicare beneficiary faces when they are reviewing Part D Prescription Drug plans (PDP) is whether they want a plan with a deductible. The deductible amount, set by Medicare, is the dollar amount a plan member must pay before he or she is eligible for the reduced copayment for the drugs. The big decision for the Medicare beneficiary is if they should select a PDP with a lower premium and $310 deductible or pay a higher monthly premium for a no deductible plan.
Part of Covered California’s mission is to improve health care quality and lower costs. In an attempt to meet these goals they announced a partnership with the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation’s Choosing Wisely initiative. The Choosing Wisely initiative seeks to encourage better dialog between patients and physicians to reduce duplicative tests based on evidence when charting the most effective course of treatment.