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News & Notes

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How to Mitigate Risks from Mobile Devices

The use of mobile devices for communication is only growing, and in the healthcare space that means providers and their business partners must have airtight policies and procedures when it comes to processing consumers’ electronic protected health information (ePHI.) Mobile devices should be a part of a company’s risk analysis processes. More information: http://bit.ly/2uJAcjr


Bankruptcy Filings on the Rise

Bankruptcy filings in the healthcare industry more than tripled in 2017, according to Bloomberg.  “Regulatory changes, technological advances and the rise of urgent-care centers have created a ‘perfect storm’ for healthcare companies,” David Neier, a partner in the New York office of law firm Winston & Strawn LLC, told Bloomberg.  Hospitals, including privately-owned facilities in rural areas, may be the most likely to file for bankruptcy after they were subject to reduced payments under The Affordable Care Act in the 2017 fiscal year. https://bloom.bg/2hWyfI0


We Want to Hear from You

Pulse is published for ACA healthcare collection agencies to provide current industry information for healthcare providers. ACA International welcomes article ideas and submissions for consideration in Pulse. Ideas may be submitted to ACA’s Communications Department at comm@acainternational.org.

Billing Tree Survey Examines Technology, Payment Solutions

  • January 16, 2018
  • Published in Billing

Billing Tree Survey Examines Payment Solutions Technology

BillingTree, an ACA International member company in Phoenix, recently conducted its second annual Healthcare Operations and Technology Survey to examine current trends in the healthcare industry.  The survey is also designed to collect information on opportunities and challenges in the industry “to provide decision-makers with a comprehensive overview on payment technology usage in their sector,” according to a news release.

“The second annual survey of providers will provide an interesting point of comparison with last year’s results, which showed providers were looking to adopt technology to improve the patient experience, maximize settlements manage compliance,” Dave Yohe, vice president of marketing at BillingTree said in the news release. “The annual survey alongside our upcoming webinar both complement the full suite of BillingTree payment solutions and services for the industry.”

In particular, the 2016 results show the primary challenge for industry professionals is payment collection, followed by patients’ inability to pay and concerns about regulatory compliance, according to the news release.  BillingTree’s 2017 surveys also include the ‘Operations and Technology Survey Series’ covering many key vertical markets, including Accounts Receivables Management, Property Management and Financial Services.

The company held an online seminar, “Patient Receivables – Who Are The People In Your Care?” in December to showcase many of the common characters healthcare providers encounter when collecting on patient responsibility. The event will offer useful tips on how services and technology can assist in managing each profile and increase the likelihood of collecting payment in a timely and compliant manner.

Yohe said the survey was open through December and a report on the findings should be available in January.

News & Notes

Consumers’ Medical Debt Ranks Low Over Other Forms of Debt

GoBankingRates’ latest survey on debt in the U.S. shows what most of us already know – consumers have various debts of various sizes, the lowest being medical debt. Sixty-five percent of the 2,500 consumers surveyed have mortgage debt while 21 percent have medical debt. Among the respondents with medical debt, their balances are less than $500. http://bit.ly/2gMeLsy

Family Premiums Under Employer Plans Continue Modest Increase

Yearly family premiums under employer-sponsored health insurance plans increased by $18,764 or an average of 3 percent in 2017, according to the 2017 Employer Health Benefits Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. And, employees’ average payment toward family premiums has increased at a faster rate than the employer’s portion since 2012. http://kaiserf.am/2hiVoHP

Cybersecurity Plans are Difficult to Achieve

Complete protection against cybersecurity attacks for hospitals is a challenge, FierceHealthcare reports, based on research from Harvard University, Case Western Reserve University and Brown University in the Annals of Internal Medicine.  Hospitals are developing best practices in the aftermath of several significant cybersecurity attacks, but contingency plans are lagging in the U.S. http://bit.ly/2xLm33l

CMS: Medicare Premiums Will Decrease in 2018

Medicare coverage for beneficiaries of the program will improve in 2018, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS.) This will result in more choices and options for Medicare coverage in 2018.  “As CMS releases the benefit and premium information for Medicare health and drug plans for the 2018 calendar year, the average monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage plan will decrease while enrollment in Medicare Advantage is projected to reach a new all-time high,” according to a news release.

CMS estimates that the Medicare Advantage average monthly premium will decrease by $1.91 (about 6 percent) in 2018, from an average of $31.91 in 2017 to $30. Seventy-seven percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees remaining in their current plan will have the same or lower premium for 2018, it states.  “More affordable choices lead to greater health security for those who need it most,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said in the news release. “Both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D are providing a higher level of health security for so many of America’s seniors precisely because they are built to be more responsive to their needs.”

Medicare Advantage enrollment is estimated to increase to 20.4 million in 2018, a increase compared to 2017.  Thirty-four percent of consumers enrolled in Medicare are projected to be in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2018, according to the CMS news release.  “The success of Medicare Advantage and the prescription drug program demonstrates what a strong and transparent health market can do—increase quality while lowering costs,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.

“When Americans are empowered to choose the plans that fit their needs and the needs of their families, they demand more from their insurance plans and in turn plans, like any business, provide customers better service at a lower cost.  CMS also reports access to the Medicare Advantage program continues to be strong as 99 percent of consumers with Medicare also have access to a Medicare Advantage plan.  

“The number of Medicare Advantage plans available to individuals to choose from across the country is increasing from about 2,700 to more than 3,100–and more than 85 percent of people with Medicare will have access to 10 or more Medicare Advantage plans,” it reports.  “In addition, more Medicare Advantage enrollees are projected to have access to important supplemental benefits such as dental, vision, and hearing benefits.”

More information: http://go.cms.gov/2hurRIj

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