News and Commentary

Headlines on Deadline February 2011

There’s a lack of competition among health insurers, according to the American Medical Association. A new survey by the physician group says that a vast majority of commercial health insurance markets are dominated by one or two health insurers and that 99 percent of health insurance markets are highly concentrated, according to results published in Competition in Health Insurance: A Comprehensive Study of U.S. Markets.… Roughly 3.4 million people visited emergency departments looking for relief from an aching back, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s “News and Numbers” report. That’s an average of 9,400 per day. The report also says that adults ages 18 to 44 were most likely to require emergency department care (1,569 visits per 100,000), but people ages 65 to 84 were the least likely to visit an emergency department for the condition. However, that younger population was less likely to need hospitalization, while the senior population had the highest rates of hospitalization (130 hospital stays per 100,000 versus 607 per 100,000 people).… The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recommended that Congress update physician payments in 2012 by 1 percent. The commission also voted unanimously to recommend a 1 percent update to both hospital inpatient and outpatient services. The recommendations will be included in the commission’s March 2011 Report to Congress on Medicare Payment Policy.

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