Retirement insights from a Colorado PERA perspective

Issues & Perspectives

Health Care Headlines

health care roundup

A digest of health care information about cost savings, public policy, and staying healthy in retirement.

New online tool helps consumers save money
on health care

The Center for Improving Value in Health Care (CIVHC) is an objective, not-for-profit
organization working with partners to alter the trajectory of health care. In its
role as administrator of the Colorado All Payer Claims Database, the state’s
most comprehensive source of health care cost information, CIVHC empowers
individuals, communities, and organizations to achieve the Triple Aim of better
health, better care, and lower costs.

CIVHC’s Shop
for Care
tool makes publicly available CIVHC data easy to access, allowing
health care consumers to compare prices and patient experiences at Colorado
health care facilities for certain health care services.

For example, recent information released in the tool shows thatconsumers could save thousands of
dollars by shopping for imaging services. Specifically, by searching for
high value providers, Coloradans could save:

  • $2,000-$6,000 on CT Scans
  • $3,000-$4,500 on MRI Scans
  • $800-$1,000 on Ultrasounds
  • $800 on Bone Density Scans
  • $4,000 on Heart Vessel Studies
  • $300-$1,000 on X-Rays

The Shop for
toolprovides quality
information and prices from Colorado facilities for nearly 40 procedures
including imaging and high cost episode-based procedures such as births and
knee replacements. Patients also can save $35,000 between the lowest- and
highest-cost facility for knee replacements, $32,000 for a hip replacement, and
$20,000 on gall bladder surgery, among other services. CIVHC will conduct an interactive podcast about
this tool on May 10.

Estimates for health care costs in retirement
continue to rise

A 65-year old couple retiring in
2019 can expect to spend $285,000 in health care and medical expenses
throughout retirement, compared with $280,000 in 2018, according to Fidelity’s
annual Retiree
Health Care Cost Estimate
. For single
retirees, the health care cost estimate is $150,000 for women and $135,000 for
men. Fidelity notes that the past two years combined have seen a slower rise
(3.6 percent) than in the previous two (2015 to 2017), which saw the estimate
grow to $275,000 from $245,000 (up a total of 12.2 percent). However, even
without the same rate of growth, some retirees are still surprised by today’s
cost of health care. A survey found 81 percent of
Americans believe it would be very or extremely valuable for their financial
adviser to include health care costs in their retirement planning.

House panel puts hospitals and specialists
on the spot for surprise bills

Modern HealthcareHospitals took a beating in the first House legislative hearing on surprise
medical bills, and major trade groups followed up with a letter to the committee leaders to defend their position. The
House Education and Labor Committee’s health panel

convened the bipartisan hearing and called witnesses from the policy and
consumer advocacy worlds rather than industry.

St. Anthony Summit Medical Center to reduce
costs for residents

Summit County’s groundbreaking Peak
Health Alliance health care collaborative has just made its first major step to
becoming a reality. Peak Health and Centura Health, which owns St. Anthony
Summit Medical Center, have successfully negotiated a contract to make Centura
the primary health care provider for the Peak Health Alliance network when it
goes live next year. The negotiations have been ongoing for several months with
different health care delivery providers, and the next step will be to get
insurance companies to bid for the rates for the fee schedule Peak Health
negotiated with Centura and secondary providers. Peak Health, when online, will
represent individuals and employees of small and large employers in Summit

8 ways Colorado lawmakers want to make
health care cheaper

seems like every state senator and representative is trying to pass a health
care bill this session. Republicans, Democrats, and the new governor all put
lowering medical costs toward the top of their to-do lists in 2019, and the
result has been dozens of bills — some of them overlapping — that seek to lower
the cost of health care in different ways. Some of them, however, hinge on
getting support not only at the Capitol but also from the Trump administration.

Why women die from heart attacks more often
than men

and what MDs are doing about it

Cardiovascular disease
(CVD) is the number-one cause of death in both men and women. Statistics from
the American Heart Association show that one woman every minute dies from heart disease in the U.S. An
estimated 44 million American women are affected by CVD, and 90 percent have
one or more risk factors for it. The good news is that 80 percent of heart
attacks and strokes can be prevented by lifestyle changes
. But when heart attacks do occur, fewer women than
men survive the first attack. That’s largely because heart-disease symptoms in
women can be different from those in men — and even some physicians misread the subtleties.

Medicare-for-all plan gains traction among
Kaiser Health

As Democratic presidential primary candidates try to walk a
political tightrope between the party’s progressive and center-left wings, they
face increasing pressure to outline the details of their health reform
proposals. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has reaffirmed his stance by
reintroducing a “Medicare-for-all” bill, the idea that fueled his 2016 presidential
run. As with its previous iterations, Sanders’ latest bill would establish a national single-payer
“Medicare” system with vastly expanded benefits, prohibit private plans from
competing with Medicare, and eliminate cost sharing. New in this version is a
universal provision for long-term care in home and community settings (but
Medicaid would continue to cover institutional care).

What Coloradans are saying about health

Colorado Consumer Health Initiative

CCHI recently coordinated with the Altarum
Healthcare Value Hub
on a poll to understand more about how Coloradans are
experiencing the health care system. The survey looked at a variety of health
care issues and perceptions in Colorado including affordability, surprise
medical bills, prescription drug costs, hospital costs quality, and regional
variations in how Coloradans experience health care.

Polis wants to shrink health care costs; where does the agenda stand?KUNC

Governor Polis considers his focus on health care policy to be one of the highlights of his first 100 days in office. He’s promised to import cheaper drugs from Canada and lower premiums. He even created the new Office of Saving People Money on Health Care. But much of Polis’ agenda actually falls on lawmakers who have to craft the proposals and pass them. So far this session, they’ve passed bills to increase transparency of hospital costs, study a state-run insurance option, and promote insurance cooperatives. But with the legislative session nearing an end, some of the most consequential pieces of health care legislation haven’t crossed the finish line yet, making some people start to wonder if there’s enough time left.

Effort to develop Colorado-run health insurance option on to PolisColorado Sun

Colorado’s House has sent to Gov. Jared Polis a bill to develop a state-run health insurance option. The bill directs state agencies to recommend a plan to compete with private insurance plans and those offered on Colorado’s health care exchange. The House approved the legislation, House Bill 1004, by a 45-19 vote last month. The public option legislation directs the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing and the Department of Regulatory Agencies to deliver a proposal in November. The plan would assess costs, funding sources, necessary federal permissions and funding, consumer eligibility, and who in government would run the program. Enrollment could begin in 2020 and a plan, if approved by the federal government, could operate in 2021.

In 10 years, half of middle-income elders
won’t be able to afford medical care

In 10 years,
more than half of middle-income Americans age 75 or older will not be able to
afford to pay for yearly assisted living rent or medical expenses, according to
a study published Wednesday in Health Affairs. The researchers used demographic and income data
to project estimates of a portion of the senior population, those who will be
75 or older in 2029, with a focus on those in the middle-income range —
currently $25,001 to $74,298 per year for those ages 75 to 84. And it doesn’t look good for that group because of the
rising costs of housing and health care. The researchers estimated that the
number of middle-income elders in the U.S. will nearly double, growing from 7.9
million to 14.4 million by 2029. They will make up the biggest share of
seniors, at 43 percent.

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