Monday September 1, 2014

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Consumer-Driven Health News

How Health-Care Costs Gobbled Up Wages

Even though health-care spending has slowed substantially since the recession, it’s still taking up an increasing slice of workers’ paychecks and employers’ expenses. To lasso runaway costs, most large U.S. employers are offering “consumer-directed health plans” next year that typically have high deductibles. They’ll be the only option at one third of the big companies that answered questions for a new survey by the National Business Group on Health.

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Using Health Savings Accounts to Invest for Retirement

Health savings accounts are often promoted as a way to help cover continuing out-of-pocket medical costs. But the accounts, which have tax advantages, can also be used to save money for health expenses in retirement — and the savings can be substantial, a new analysis finds.

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Don't Get Nickel and Dimed by Your Health Savings Account

"I love my health savings account. But what's up with the fees?" That was the gist of several emails and comments that followed my recent article about using a health savings account as a retirement-funding vehicle. Numerous readers noted that they are enthused about the generous tax benefits that one receives by investing in an HSA. But they also pointed out that high fees have the potential to erode those advantages in a hurry.

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A $10,169 Blood Test Is Everything Wrong With American Health Care

A lipid panel is one of the most basic blood tests in modern medicine. This is not a procedure where some hospitals are really great at lipid panels and some are terrible. There's just not space for quality variation. And that all makes it a bit baffling why, in California, a lipid panel can cost anywhere between $10 and $10,000. In either case, it is the exact same test.

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The New Obamacare Issue Worrying Consumer Advocates

There's a tool for reducing health costs that many health economists and policy geeks are eager to embrace, but that leaves consumer advocates are somewhat wary. It's called reference pricing, and it's surprisingly controversial.

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