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Slideshow: State insurance departments meet consumers online


As 2014 looms and many of the major changes associated with health reform, state insurance departments are ramping up efforts to streamline their online portals for consumers and commercial players alike.
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Washington

After revamping its website, with responsive screen design to reach mobile users, the Washington state Insurance Commissioner says he sees more consumers using the site to inform their decisions, file complaints, find help paying for Medicare and more.


“When people have insurance problems, they want information fast,” Washington insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler said in a media release. “They have limited time, and they may be on a smart phone or other device. We want to make it easy for them.”


Washington and other states have been guiding consumers, insurance agents, brokers and companies onto the web for some time. Ahead of changes to insurance market regulations, Medicaid and the opening of insurance exchanges in 2014, many state insurance and health departments have been trying to turn to consumers as much as the industries being regulated in trying to modernize government services.


Slideshow: PwC's top 10 healthcare issues for 2013


The pace of change in healthcare is expected to accelerate in 2013, with factors such as consumerism, the increased effects of technology and budgetary pressures all converging on an industry that consumes nearly one of every five dollars of the country's economy according to PwC's Health Research Institute.
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Top health industry issues of 2013

The pace of change in healthcare is expected to accelerate in 2013, with factors such as consumerism, the increased effects of technology and budgetary pressures all converging on an industry that consumes nearly one of every five dollars of the country's economy according to PwC's Health Research Institute.


Slideshow: The 10 least competitive health insurance markets


In its annual report on the competitiveness of state insurance markets, the American Medical Association has found Maine, Indiana, Michigan, Alaska, Alabama and other states with market conditions that according to federal regulators and the AMA are highly concentrated.
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THE HERFINDAHL–HIRSCHMAN INDEX

In its annual report on state and regional health insurance markets, the American Medical Association (AMA) uses the Herfindahl-Hirschman index, or HHI, to measure market competitiveness based on the market share and number of firms in a market.


The score is calculated by squaring the market share of each company, then adding the resulting numbers, with a maximum score of 10,000 indicating a monopoly-controlled market. U.S. regulators consider above the 2,000 range to indicate markets that are somewhat concentrated. 


Oregon, with an HHI score of 1272, has the country's most compeitive market, and Alabama, with a score of  8,166, has the most highly concentrated.


The most recent AMA report, published in February 2012, relies on data from 2009, and the group argues that "anti-competitive conditions exist" in 83 percent of the 368 metropolitan areas studied, and that in half of them, one insurer had a commercial market share of 50 percent or more.


Noting its opposition to insurer consolidation, the AMA contends that a lack of competition "threatens health care delivery across the country, leading to access to care being compromised and lower payment rates for physicians."


America's Health Insurance Plans, meanwhile, contends that provider consolidation has been the driving factor behind rising healthcare costs and, in turn, rising insurance premiums.


Slideshow: The 10 most competitive health insurance markets


The American Medical Association ranks Oregon as the most competitive health insurance market in the country, with a market index rating that shows what government regulators would consider to be a fairly competitive, slightly concentrated market. Elsewhere the AMA contends that markets are heavily concentrated.
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The Herfindahl–Hirschman Index

In its annual report on state and regional health insurance markets, the American Medical Association (AMA) uses the Herfindahl-Hirschman index, or HHI, a measure of market competitiveness based on the market share and number of firms in a market.


The score is calculated by squaring the market share of each company, then adding the resulting numbers, with a maximum score of 10,000 indicating a monopoly-controlled market.


The most recent AMA report, published in February 2012, argued that "anti-competitive conditions exist" in 83 percent of the 368 metropolitan areas studied, and that in half of them, one insurer had a commercial market share of 50 percent or more. 


Noting its opposition to insurer consolidation, the AMA contends that a lack of competition "threatens health care delivery across the country, leading to access to care being compromised and lower payment rates for physicians."


America's Health Insurance Plans, meanwhile, contends that provider consolidation has been the driving factor behind rising healthcare costs and, in turn, rising insurance premiums. 


 


Slideshow: A closer look at wellness ROI


Employee Wellness programs today are the norm, not the exception. But are companies really getting a solid return for every dollar spent on these programs? The International Foundation for Employee Benefit Plans surveyed its members earlier this year looking for these answers.
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Analyzing ROI on Wellness Programs

Employee Wellness programs today are the norm, not the exception. But are companies really getting a solid return for every dollar spent on these programs? The International Foundation for Employee Benefit Plans surveyed its members earlier this year looking for these answers. Click on the images to enlarge.


Source: A Closer Look: Wellness ROI, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Slideshow: Public opinion on ACA


The U.S. Supreme Court will soon make its decision about the Affordable Care Act. Health reform will once again be top of mind for many Americans, and the Kaiser Family Foundation held a poll to gauge public opinion on ACA. View these slides from Kaiser to see some of the results.
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Who Benefits?

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon make its decision about the Affordable Care Act. Health reform will once again be top of mind for many Americans, and the Kaiser Family Foundation held a poll to gauge public opinion on ACA. View these slides from Kaiser to see some of the results. Click on the images to enlarge.



When asked which groups will benefit from ACA, 55 percent of respondents said the uninsured will be better off. States and middle class Americans were said to be worse off under the law.



Source: The Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser Fast Facts

Slideshow: Insurance premiums increased since 2003


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Average Annual Employee Share

The following graphics from the Commonwealth Fund illustrate state trends in insurance premiums and deductibles from 2003 to 2010. View the slideshow for a visual representation of the startling increases in premiums.

The above graph shows the average annual employee premium share in 2003 and 2010. All averages increased significantly – the highest five states average for 2003 is almost the same amount as the lowest five states average in 2010.

Click on the images to enlarge.

Slideshow: 7 customer service surprises for insurance plans


A recent survey of consumers by Accenture reveals seven surprising conclusions of health insurance companies' customer service efforts and how to improve them.
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7 customer service surprises for insurance plans

With the change brought about by health reform and with consumers possessing an array of communication methods at their fingertips, customers are wielding tremendous weight in today's health insurance market. Competition between health insurers has amplified, and customer service is solidifying as a vital ingredient for success. Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, has released the results of a recent survey that highlights its findings about customer service. Accenture surveyed 1,000 customers using a web-based questionnaire in late December 2010 and early January 2011. Here we present the seven surprises about customer service distilled from the results of the survey.




Source: Accenture report “The 7 Things Your Health Insurance Customers Are Not Telling You”

Slideshow: The Commonwealth Fund’s report on state health insurance premiums and deductibles


<p>A December 2010 report from the Commonwealth Fund, "State Trends in Premiums and Deductibles, 2003–2009: How Building on the Affordable Care Act Will Help Stem the Tide of Rising Costs and Eroding Benefits" details how middle income families are losing ground to the rapidly rising costs of health insurance. The following slides provide a snapshot of the rising costs from years from 2003 to 2009 and also show projections for health insurance premiums in 2015 and 2020.</p>
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From the Commonwealth Fund report 'State Trends in Premiums and Deductibles, 2003-2009'

In 2003 13 states had average employer premiums that were less than 14 percent of the median household income for the under-65 population. Only three states had average premiums exceeding 18 percent of the median household income: Texas, New Mexico and West Virginia.

Click the images in this slideshow to enlarge them.

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