health care costs

Stateside
4:31 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Stateside for Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014

As Detroit continues the process of bankruptcy, there's lots of talk about turning over a new leaf in the city, a rejuvenation. But headlines have recently turned to the legal troubles of City Councilman George Cushingberry. On today's show: Can Detroit change its image if there are still leaders courting controversy?

 Then, we spoke to an artist who's trying to change the way we think about abortion and issues of contraception through art. And, we want everything modern medicine can offer, but as taxpayers we want health care costs controlled. Is there a way we achieve both goals?  First on the show, as Gov. Snyder prepares to reveal his 2014-15 budget tomorrow morning, there will be many eyes fixed on how much he proposes to put into K-12 education.
 

In the “Comeback Kid” Snyder campaign ad unveiled during the Super Bowl, amidst the talk of jobs was the claim “education funding’s up”. Yet many of his critics claim the governor cut $1 billion from K-12 education.

So what’s the truth about education funding? And what should we expect to see for schools in the about-to-be released budget?

Detroit Free Press Lansing reporter Paul Egan joined us today.

Stateside
4:30 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Can we get the best medical treatment while controlling health care costs?

401(k) 2013 Flickr

What's your reaction when the conversation turns to America's soaring health care costs – when you hear that by 2020, just six years from now, our health care spending will hit $4.5 trillion?

Maybe it's all too big, too "macro" for us to absorb on a personal level.

So try this: Should your 92-year-old grandmother undergo coronary artery bypass graft surgery –surgery that costs upwards of $20,000?

What about a girl who's 17 years old? Her leukemia treatments aren't working. Her liver is failing, other organs are failing, she is near death and her family is demanding a liver transplant, which the surgeon proposed, but the HMO refuses to authorize?

These are real-life dilemmas facing doctors, patients, and us.

We want everything modern medicine can offer, but as taxpayers we want health care costs controlled.

Can we achieve both goals?

Leonard Fleck, a professor of philosophy and a medical ethicist from Michigan State University, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
3:40 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

How to compare medical costs – right now

Do you compare costs before stepping into a doctor's office?
Fotos GOVBA Flickr

Cost comparison – it can be an effective way of saving money. Whether it's comparing the price of a cup of coffee – Starbucks versus Tim Horton's, for instance – or comparing gas prices in different parts of the city or state, checking out cost differences is, for many, just part of a regular day.

But what about comparing medical costs? Would you have any idea what, say, a hip replacement might cost at the hospital you go to?

If you could tease out those prices and compare them, you might find yourself wondering: Why do some hospitals in the same city or state charge thousands of dollars more for the same procedure? And why is it so tough to get those prices?

Those are the questions Ilene Wolff, a writer with DBusiness, explored in a recent story.

To compare prices of services at different hospitals, visit healthcarebluebook.comTo look up hospital quality information, visit hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Politics & Government
11:11 am
Thu March 14, 2013

'It's not just Detroit,' hundreds of Michigan cities face huge unfunded liabilities

State capitol building, Lansing, Michigan
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Hundreds of Michigan cities are not saving enough to cover their future retiree health care costs.

A new report says more than 300 Michigan municipalities have in excess of $13 billion in unfunded liabilities for health care costs of retired public employees.

Michigan State University researchers found only half of the municipalities are prefunding retiree health care. The rest are setting aside no money despite longer lifespans and rapidly rising health costs.

While the collective bill of funding those benefits is $12.7 billion, the bulk of it, almost $11 billion, is attributable to local governments in a 10-county region of Southeast Michigan including Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. The city of Detroit alone will owe $5 billion in retiree health care costs.

But MSU professor Eric Scorsone says cities like Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing and Saginaw also face difficult choices.

“That’s already happening today….these cities…are paying millions of dollars in retiree premiums so it’s already having an effect and it will have an even bigger effect in the future,” says Scorsone.

Scorsone says the new national health care law may help some.   But tax increases, budget cuts or broken promises to retirees are inevitable, unless the state takes action.

health care
4:48 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Holland wins $1.6 million in Blue Cross Blue Shield lawsuit

An Ottawa County Circuit Court judge is ordering Blue Cross Blue Shield to pay the City of Holland $1.6 million. Holland is one of dozens of communities that sued Blue Cross over variable fees charged on insurance claims filed by employees.  The city claims the insurer didn’t tell them about the fees for 17 years.

Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesperson Helen Stojic says the fees were not hidden.“As the lawsuit proceeds to the appellate courts we’re confident that the legal process will result in a finding that our access fee were known to our customers,” Stojic said.

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health care
5:14 pm
Tue August 23, 2011

Doctors, hospitals and schools promote low-cost health care plans

Billboards that look like this will begin to pop up in Michigan. The grops are also buying TV and radio ads.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

An alliance of medical and educational associations is working to get more children signed up for free or low-cost health insurance programs.

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balancing budgets
1:40 pm
Tue January 4, 2011

Kalamazoo balances city budget with ease, for now…

Kalamazoo City Commission discusses the city's finances Monday night.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Kalamazoo has a new balanced budget in place…with no layoffs, tax increases or cuts to city services. City commissioners unanimously approved the 2011 budget plan Monday night.

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Health
7:18 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Kalamazoo County saves millions in health care costs

Wellness programs encourage people to lead health lifestyles. Kalamazoo County says their program is paying off.
Ed Yourdon - Flickr

A wellness program is paying huge dividends for Kalamazoo County. This year, the county spent $7.7 million on health care for its employees. That’s a little more than $2 million less than it spent 6 years ago.

Anne Conn is Kalamazoo County’s assistant director of Human Resources. She says they enticed employees to participate in the wellness program by offering freebies and even an extra day off.

"People are in the wellness program now because they want to be, not because we’re giving them a t-shirt to do it."

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Health Care
4:44 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

Holland to file lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield

Holland is the latest city in Michigan planning to file a lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield over variable fees. The fee is a 13.5% administrative access fee Blue Cross charged the city on any insurance claims filed by employees.  The city claims the insurer didn’t tell them about the fees for 17 years.

Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra says,

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