MANAGED CARE April 2005. ©MediMedia USA
More public universities are requiring students to have health coverage, according to the Associated Press. This may not have too much of an effect on insurers. "In most cases students are covered to age 25 under their parents’ insurance," says Arthur N. Leibowitz, MD, a former chief medical director at Aetna who now runs a company, Health Advocate, that helps consumers get a handle on managed care. Many of the hundreds of thousands of students covered by health insurers are graduate and foreign students, he adds.... The price tag for the Medicare prescription drug benefit keeps growing. Figures released by the Congressional Budget Office on March 4 say that the benefit will cost 849 billion over a 10-year period ending in 2015, up from the $720 billion figure released in February which, in turn, was up from the $534 billion projection of December 2003 which, in turn, was up from the approximately $400 billion projection bandied about before the legislation was passed. Phew! Looking for a silver lining? Well, the CBO’s recent projection does not include expected savings that could actually make the cost lower than the Bush administration’s current estimate of $724 billion over those 10 years. We’ll see.... We’re living longer, according to an examination of more than 2.4 million death certificates from 2003. The certificates, about 93 percent of those issued that year, were examined in a report by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. Mortality rates declined in categories such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, HIV, and chronic respiratory disease. The average age for U.S. residents increased to 77.6 years.... Diabetes-related hospitalizations are a huge drain on health care finances, according to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Preventing such events could save the United States about $2.5 billion. In 2001, 30 percent of people who were hospitalized for diabetes, wound up having two or more hospital stays. Costs for those patients averaged $23,100, compared to $8,500 for patients who were admitted once.