HealthLeaders Media Finance - December 31, 2007 | What Good Are They? View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
What Good Are They?
Philip Betbeze, Senior Editor-Finance

If HSA funding levels are any indication, we have a lot of work to do before these accounts--coupled as they almost always are with high deductible health plans--do anything other than make patients poorer. The reason: neither people (nor companies) are putting enough money in them, despite their tax-advantaged status. [Read More]
  Dec. 31, 2007

Editor's Picks
Insurers seek bigger reach in coverage
This story about policy recently adopted by the health insurance industry's major trade group tells me that any form of single payer healthcare in this country faces an uphill battle that makes scaling Everest look like a walk around the block. What's more likely, and perhaps more tenable, are state-level requirements that everyone be required to obtain health insurance similar to the Massachusetts model being implemented in 2007 (and a tentative deal between California's governor and speaker, see below). For what it's worth, the health insurers are here, and they're ready to help. That may be cold comfort for most hospital and health system senior leaders. [Read More]
Building a competitive finance function
As I discussed with Spectrum Health CFO Michael Freed for an article last May in HealthLeaders magazine, today's CFOs are expected to be much more than number crunchers. This article explores that topic more deeply, and although it's not focused on healthcare CFOs in particular, it's an interesting look at the evolution of the job over the past few years. [Read More]
Hospital merger not likely to reduce patient costs
This story illustrates the main problem most people have with hospital mergers. They don't cut healthcare costs. In fact, in many cases, at least according to the Federal Trade Commission (see above), they raise costs. In this case, the CEOs of Rhode Island's two biggest hospital groups spoke to the advantages that include better physician and researcher recruitment and better patient care. As for reductions in healthcare costs that the system would bring, well, not so much. A merged entity would provide two-thirds of the state's hospital services. [Read More]
Employers grab accident victims' cash
This article is a little personal financey for this newsletter, but it's an interesting look into the practice of subrogation, under which employers and insurers can take money from victims to the extent that the insurer or employer paid for their care as a result of the injury for which the patient or patient's family received a legal settlement. [Read More]
Finance Forum
Why health system CEOs should support single payer
Understandably, hospital and health system execs have not supported the single payer approach to healthcare reform. This is because single payer has been defined by most policy analysts and the media as a government-run program, with the government calling all the shots. "Single payer" is often seen as a close relative of socialized medicine. In sharp contrast, says Bob Sigmond, single payer is a different idea that Walter McNerney and others promoted in the 1960s. We saw single payer as the most effective way to keep government from being excessively involved in day-to-day patient care decisions, even as government necessarily had to become more involved in the financing of that care. [Read More]
Finance Headlines
California governor, speaker, reach state health plan accord
Los Angeles Times - December 15, 2007
Washington doctors fight proposal that would limit state's physician-owned hospitals
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - December 18, 2007
Pact solidifies relationships among KU hospitals and doctors group
Kansas City Star - December 20, 2007
HCA proposes new Richmond-area hospital
Richmond Times-Dispatch - December 14, 2007
Upcoming Events
HealthLeaders Media News - December 17, 2007
From HealthLeaders Magazine
Board on the Floor
HealthLeaders November 2007 Quality isn't just for the docs anymore. A growing emphasis on hospital quality is sparking a new governance model that requires trustees to monitor more than just the bottom line. Is your board ready to take charge? [Read More]
Money Talk

A look at one hospital's struggles to improve

Aspirus Wausau Hospital, Wausau, WI

Rating: A
Outlook: Stable
Affected Debt: $112.4 million
Agency: Standard & Poor's
Remarks: Outlook revision from negative due to good liquidity position with about 200 days cash on hand and good balance sheet performance in the face of increased competition.[Read More]
Audio Feature

Top Leadership Teams '07 HealthLeaders Media hosted several interesting panels at its annual Top Leadership Teams in Healthcare conference and awards event back in October. I happened to host the financial strategy panel, which featured four CEO-CFO tandems discussing challenges and solutions they've experienced at their hospital or hospital system. In this audio feature, Brad King, CFO at Oregon Health & Science University, talks about how the hospital portion of the university, at that time considered a "financial anchor," faced potential closure 15 years ago and an unlevel competitive playing field with insurers.
Sponsor HealthLeaders Media Finance

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