Health maintenance organization profits double

Filed under: Health Care |

The Health Maintenance Organization industry in Colorado saw massive profits in 2006, according to Colorado Managed Care, a newsletter published by James Hertel.

The HMO industry doubled its 2005 profits during 2006.

The combined before-tax profits grew to $213.78 million — up 111 percent.

On an after-tax basis, profit grew from $73.57 million to $171.87 million — up 134 percent.

The growth came from a rebound at Kaiser Permanente. Net income at Kaiser grew more than 1,190 percent to $74.92 million — up from $5.8 million.

The organization had 475,913 members at year’s end.

The before-tax statistic is the most reliable indicator of performance, according to Colorado Managed Care, because Kaiser is a nonprofit plan and reports no adjustment for taxes.

Kaiser’s total revenue is approaching $2 billion.

Certification commission restructures work group

A new Electronic Health Record work group will address universal requirements to make the switch from paper medical records, according to the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology.

The organization is seeking volunteers for working groups and panels to discuss specialized issues.

The nonprofit group plans to recruit additional staff to develop an expanded certification program beginning in 2008. CCHIT certifies hospital and ambulatory requirements, and is supplemented by another group that will develop criteria for emergency department systems.

Another group will develop the certification structure for health information networks.

CCHIT also plans to create expert panels to focus on security, privacy, interoperability, children’s health care and cardiovascular medicine.

For more information or to volunteer for the working groups, call Sue Reber at (503) 703-0813 or visit www.cchit.org.

Nonprofit calls for safety comparison group

Patients and physicians will have more information to make value-based health care decisions as part of a comprehensive strategy to improve the safety and quality of medical care provided by the Board of Directors of America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The plan calls for the development of an entity to compare the safety and efficacy of medical procedures and technologies, advocate steps to promote transparency of health care information and speed the adoption of best practices, as well as the creation of a patient-centered dispute resolution mechanism.

The absence of objective, patient- and physician-friendly information related to the value of medical services has come into focus in recent years as safety and efficacy concerns have arisen related to a series of common treatments and technologies, Ignagni said.

Key elements of the plan include:

  • Establishing a new national entity to evaluate and compare the safety, efficacy and cost effectiveness of new and existing health care treatments and technologies, including prescription drugs and medical devices.
  • Reforming the Food and Drug Administration to improve its ability to assess the long-term safety and effectiveness of newly approved drugs and devices.
  • Setting a national research agenda that addresses gaps in evidence and makes communication about research studies a national priority.
  • Accelerating efforts to give patients and their physicians information to make value-based health care decisions.
  • Emphasizing the adoption of best practices.
  • Developing tools to help physicians and patients manage chronic conditions.
  • Creating a nationwide medical dispute resolution system that focuses on protecting patients and eliminates the runaway costs and risks of defensive medicine, suppression of information about medical errors and litigation.

Essay contest gives family caregivers a break

Home Instead Senior Care is sponsoring the second “Give a Caregiver a Break” essay contest to honor caregivers for their service to elderly family members.

In 500 words or less, caregivers can tell about their experiences — including the challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve embraced their role.

The entry deadline is July 16, and forms are available at www.caringtoday.com.

The top essay writer will receive $5,000 of free care.

Two first prize winners will receive $2,500 of free care. Winning entries will be published in the November/December issue of Caring Today.

More than three-fourths of the 8,000 family caregivers reported that caring for a family member was overwhelming. An additional 91 percent said they have episodes of feeling anxious or irritable. Seventy-three percent have disturbed sleep patterns and 56 percent seem to become ill more frequently.

Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.