MANAGED CARE November 2005. ©MediMedia USA
Good news for employers can be found in a study by Hewitt Associates that reports that health insurance costs increased by 9.2 percent this year. That's the first single-digit increase since 2000. The report contained not-so-good news for employees. Their contributions to health care premiums increased 65 percent, from $877 per individual in 2002 to $1,444 this year.... Humana has agreed to pay $40 million (as well as an additional $18 million in legal fees to the plaintiffs) in a settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by more than 700,000 physicians. The suit says that Humana delayed or denied payment of claims for medical services rendered by the doctors. Humana is the latest of the 10 health insurers named in the suit to reach a settlement.... Do as I say, not as I do? Medical malpractice claims paid by insurers and hospitals on behalf of doctors in their employ must be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank. Now, however, a report by the Office of Inspector General says that between 1997 and 2004, agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services failed to report 474 instances in which they paid medical malpractice claims. HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson sums up the problem by noting that "underreporting of the department's own medical malpractice cases lessens the usefulness of the National Practitioner Data Bank and undermines departmental efforts to regulate private and public sector compliance." Indeed.