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Cost continues to be the most significant barrier for small businesses when deciding whether to offer health insurance.
The National Association of the Self-Employed surveyed 4,000 micro-businesses — businesses with five or fewer employees — to measure the impact of rising costs.
There are more than 24 million micro-businesses in the United States, creating more than one-third of all new jobs. Continue Reading Fewer companies offering insurance for employees

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New rules issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will allow medical researchers access to millions of Medicare prescription drug benefit claims.
The rules limit studies to the commercial parts of the program, but will allow researchers to study the safety and effectiveness of medications among the elderly and disabled. Clinical trials often exclude the very old, patients with multiple chronic conditions and those taking multiple medications. Continue Reading CMS provides researchers with access to drug data

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The move toward online health records has taken a big step forward.
Microsoft and Kaiser Permanente plan to test a program that will provide information transfers from Kaiser’s health manager to Microsoft’s consumer health platform.
The pilot program is expected to create strategies for expanding consumer access to online health information and management tools. Continue Reading Kaiser, Microsoft testing online records program

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Health insurance premiums in Colorado grew nearly 60 percent between 2000 and 2006, and the cost of coverage is eating away at an increasing share of business expenses and employees’ wages.
The Colorado Business Health Forum says that employee contributions to family premiums grew 85 percent between 2000 and 2005, from an average of $1,536 to $2,845. During the same period, average wage growth was 12 percent. Continue Reading Rising health care costs hammer Colorado businesses, workers

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Colorado hospitals will have the chance to test bundled payments for hospitals and doctor services through a Medicare demonstration program being tested by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The goal of Acute Care Episode testing is to determine whether combining the payments leads to better quality and greater efficiency using a global-payments system to align incentives for providers. Continue Reading Pilot program for bundled payments ready to launch

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Nursing teachers have the opportunity to qualify to have as much as $20,000 of their student loan debt forgiven through the Loan Incentive for Teachers of Nursing Program.
A total of $250,000 in student loan forgiveness is available through CollegeInvest. Qualified teachers can receive up to $4,000 in student loan forgiveness each year for five years. Continue Reading Nurses may qualify for student-loan debt forgiveness

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The number of small group plans decreased in Colorado during 2007, according to the Colorado Division of Insurance’s annual small group activity report.
While the report shows no significant increase or decrease in the number of people covered by small group insurance from 2006 to 2007, the number of plans decreased from 48,288 to 45,667. Continue Reading Small group plans decrease, but number served steady

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The cost of long-term care in Colorado has increased 20 percent since 2004, compared to a nationwide increase of 17 percent.
A Cost of Care Survey released by Genworth Financial Group finds that the cost of elder care in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and at-home care increased for the fifth straight year. One year in a private nursing home in Colorado, for example, costs $75,259. By contrast, the national average for the same type of facility is $76,460 — Continue Reading Long-term care costs rise for fifth consecutive year

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More than half of small businesses do not offer a company health care plan to employees, according to a survey conducted by online payroll service SurePayroll.
Owners say that offering insurance is too expensive, the survey said, with 32 percent fewer small businesses indicating they offer health insurance than during 2006.
“The cost of doing business is going up — health insurance premiums are going up. Continue Reading More small businesses decline to offer insurance

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All Penrose-St. Francis Health Services campuses will be tobacco-free starting Aug. 8, with no designated smoking areas available at any of its facilities.
“We’re committed to preserving the health and wellness of our patients and associates, as well as promoting a true healing environment,” said Kristine Barrett, health improvement incentive program coordinator for the hospital.
The Aug. 8 date coincides with the opening of the St. Francis Medical Center in northern Colorado Springs. Continue Reading Opening of new hospital coincides with the last light up at Penrose

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