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Health Wonk Review: Business Edition

The biweekly blog carnival Health Wonk Review is up, and while many of the featured posts can tend to the academic, here are a few that may appeal specifically to BNET readers:

  • Two different posts tackle the question of whether insurers can help restrain soaring healthcare costs. H. G. Stern of Insureblog says no in the course of a mini-review of Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's recent speech on healthcare, arguing -- simplistically, IMO -- that insurance costs rise directly because healthcare costs increase. (Insurers are also either unwilling or unable to rein in "overtreatment" that may inflate overall healthcare costs by as much as 50 percent, which Stern doesn't address.)
  • Healthcare consultant Richard Eskow takes a slightly different take at The Sentinel Effect, asking why "buyers" -- in this case, California HMOs who are imposing premium increases of eight to 10 percent -- can't hold costs down more. Unfortunately, he has no answers, although he does take a potshot or two at HMO executive salaries.
  • Tom Emswiler of New Health Dialogue looks at the first penalties meted out to hospitals under a Medicare quality-care pilot program and finds that only a handful didn't meet the relevant benchmarks -- and that the fines for failing to do so were tiny in any case. Yet overall quality of care did improve in five cardiovascular and orthopedic categories.
  • HealthBlawg's David Harlow notes that two Massachusetts insurers have signed onto the no-pay-for-"never events" bandwagon in a big way by adopting principles from the healthcare-improvement organization Leapfrog Group, which also require medical providers to apologize for mistakes. Leapfrog CEO Leah Binder chimes in with a comment Harlow reproduces in his item.
  • Aetna continues its love-in with health policy types by conducting a trial lottery intended to improve drug-taking compliance among heart-attack patients. David Williams of the Health Business Blog suggests extending the experiment in a number of interesting ways, particularly those that build on current understanding of loss-avoiding behavior and, um, social networking.
  • The pseudonymous author of The Physician Executive -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- ruminates on a recent Medicare decision that, on its face, does seem to impose an unwarranted burden on doctors who actually hope to get paid by the government program that's supposed to pay them.
Anyway, check it out -- health wonks need all the love they can get.
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