HealthLeaders Media Finance - September 8, 2008 | With Hospital Bills, I'm Scarred But Smarter View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
With Hospital Bills, I'm Scarred
But Smarter

Philip Betbeze, Senior Editor-Finance

I got a big bill the other day from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which was strange because I hadn't been there in at least 10 months. So I decided to do some investigating. What I found out didn't just tell me about my bill—it also told me a lot about the state of hospital billing, which still has some kinks to work out. [Read More]
  Sept. 8, 2008

Editor's Picks
Grassley after Chicago hospital with Obama ties
Here's something hospitals already know: When Sen. Charles Grassley comes after you, you're in a world of hurt. And when the person who helped set up the hospital's plan to steer non-emergent patients away from the hospital's ER happens to be a prospective first lady for the opposition party's presidential nominee-so much the better. No doubt much to the chagrin of a reader who accused me of being a right-wing mouthpiece this week, I have to take issue with Grassley on this one. Politics aside, his work to force hospitals to justify their nonprofit status is commendable, but in this area, hospitals seem justified. Hundreds of them do steer non-emergent patients to other places to receive care, including one whose CFO I spoke to this week. Emergency rooms are for emergencies, Sen. Grassley. [Read More]
Price strategy puts WellPoint in a bind
This story correctly points out that WellPoint is doing a difficult dance in an attempt to goose profits in the face of shareholders who lament dragging profit growth. At the same time, she's trying not to boost premiums so high that her company loses business. This is not news—it's simply the way health plans operate. However, what is news is that WellPoint's not alone in this predicament. Health plans, after years of solid profit growth, are finding out that there is a ceiling on what people and companies are willing—or able—to stand for. [Read More]
Consumer-driven plans fall out of favor
There's troubling news for consumer-directed health plans, at least in Iowa. A new study shows that only 17% of Iowa employers in the survey offer that benefit design to employees—a drop from 26% the year before. Part of the reason seems to be that the plans aren't much cheaper, if at all, than traditional health plans. Another impediment is lack of pricing information from healthcare providers. [Read More]
Companies offering on-site healthcare
Interesting story here about a partnership between a company and a healthcare provider that seems to reduce the role of, if not eliminate, the middleman-the health insurer. Got your attention, didn't I? Well, it's not really that simple, but employees who use the new on-site 2,500-square-foot health center built by the employer and Holy Redeemer Health System will save on copays and deductibles. [Read More]
Finance Forum
Retail Clinics Attract Investors
In healthcare's highly competitive marketplace, your brand has to be developed into something extraordinary. It must evoke a positive rational as well as emotional response from all your stakeholders, including patients, physicians, employees, and donors. But most importantly, your brand needs to drive the bottom line. In Part 1 of a two-part series, HealthLeaders Media contributor Gabrielle DeTora outlined a plan for CFOs to measure true return on investment from your marketing team's efforts. This week, DeTora will go through steps to improve ROI once you're able to measure it. [Read More]
Finance Headlines
Virginia's Carilion buys imaging and surgery centers
Wall Street Journal (subscription required) - September 2, 2008
Whistleblowers help recover $9.3 billion from providers
AP/Yahoo! News - September 1, 2008
Novant to present plans for new North Carolina hospital
Raleigh News & Observer - August 30, 2008
Blue Cross Blue Shield buys Florida insurer for $85 million
Orlando Business Journal - September 2, 2008
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From HealthLeaders Magazine
Help the Uninsured (Without Going Broke)
HealthLeaders August 2008 The number of people who can't pay much—or anything—for their care just keeps rising. Some hospitals have found new ways to help them while still protecting the financial health of the hospital. [Read More]
Money Talk

Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, Jackson, TN
Rating: A1
Outlook: Positive
Affected Debt: $298.9 million
Agency: Moody's Investors Service
Remarks: Outlook upgraded from Stable thanks to strong historical operating performance and favorable market share characteristics. [Read More]
Audio Feature

The Source of Bad Debt: Today's conversation is with Earl Winter, CEO of nTelagent Inc., a provider of self-pay management systems for healthcare providers, whose company recently ran a test of aged trial balance analyses for some of their customers and discovered that about 65% of all bad debt results from insured patients, not the uninsured, as many assume. The key, then, is to maximize uncollected but collectable debt in many small packages. [Listen Now]

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