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Universal Healthcare The Pros And Cons

Universal Healthcare is being strongly considered in the United States. Universal Healthcare basically means that every citizen will be eligible for health coverage, regardless of their ability to pay for it. There are pros and cons of such a system.

First of all, let’s take a look at the pros of Universal Healthcare (also known as Socialized Medicine). The benefits are fairly obvious. If we cover each and every citizen with affordable or free health insurance, they will be able to maintain their health regardless of their income.

One major advantage of such as system is that it can literally save lives. People die in our country each day because they cannot afford healthcare. And that includes working Americans. That is a travesty! It’s heartbreaking that there are millions of people who are contributing tax dollars to our national economy who are not in turn given their most basic need: maintenance of their health.

It almost seems obvious that it’s time to take the cue from Canada and implement Universal Healthcare. Their citizens seem to be fairly happy with the system, and it has been saving lives there on a daily basis.

However, as is true with any system (no matter how good a system it is), no healthcare solution is without fault. There are some notable disadvantages to Universal Healthcare which are worth acknowledging.

One negative side effect to providing universal healthcare is that spreading something too thin causes it to lose its inherent value. If we try to spread out our healthcare, it is possible that the quality of care will go down. Why? Because the hospitals and doctors offices will have more patients to deal with!

Naturally, no doctor would deliberately decrease his or her quality of care. Unfortunately, however, if your patient count multiplies, it can be hard to keep up. This could be overcome by the increased funding from the government under a socialized system, since that could cover a boost in medical staffing.

The other disadvantage that could result from Universal Healthcare is a lack of availability of care, causing a decrease in access to healthcare for everyone, including those who could afford to pay for it. There could be waiting lists that could prevent people from getting the care they need.

At the end of the day, we have to decide if the few drawbacks are worth it, in order to help out our fellow Americans who cannot afford to have any care whatsoever.

How Does The Nations Largest State Health Information Exchange (HIE) Remain Federally Compliant

In 2004, the state of Maine began work on a state health information exchange (HIE) in an effort to bring together disparate health care organizations, and meet federal calls to implement more effective real-time public health event monitoring and enable rapid response.

These included Maines four largest health delivery systems Central Maine Health Care, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, Maine General Medical Centers, and Maine Health. Included was also an independent, mult-site primary care practice Martins Point Health Care and an independent rural hospital Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington.

Together, these health care organizations totaled some 15 rural and urban hospitals and approximately 2,000 physicians, which represented almost half of the total physicians practicing in the state of Maine. Once completed, all hospitals in Maine are expected to become part of the HIE helping to deliver care to the states 1.3 million residents.

Additionally, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has linked their public, statewide health information system with the HIE in an effort to automate the reporting requirements for their laboratory as required by Maine law.

In 2006, HealthInfoNet was developed in the state of Maine as an independent, nonprofit organization tasked to create, promote, and sustain an integrated, secure and reliable regional information network. This network was developed to deliver authorized, rapid access to patient health care information across numerous points of care. This state health information exchange is thought to be the nations largest statewide system using clinical data.

The ultimate goal of the HIE was to enable health care organizations to:

Enhance and improve the overall quality of clinical care

Minimize service duplication

Identify public health threats better

Improve administrative and clinical efficiency

Improve patient safety>

Increase and expand consumers access to their own health care information
The HIE is a collaborative effort between organizations dedicated to improving overall health care management through innovative solutions, including:

Orion Health Concerto Portal and Rhapsody Integration Engine

3M Health Information Systems Clinical data Repository and Enterprise Master Person Index (EMPI)

DrFirst, Inc. Informational processes coordination
The state health information exchange is currently in the “demonstration” phase of development and implementation, but is expected to save the state of Maine $10.6M in 2010 and nearly $20M by the time complete implementation is realized in 2011.

Health Care Reform – Seen through the eyes of the typical American Citizen

When suits like this are initiated the insurance companies have to hire or pay their lawyers to defend the doctors in these law suits, and the never ending circle of legal chicanery continues in perpituity. The lawyers have us all caught in a no win situation. They sue doctors and file frivolous suits, then they demand that people have rights to file these suits in order to protect themselves. Certainly no one would argue that people have such rights, in fact they do and should, but only in real cases. Not cases initiated simply to acquire money, and argued with a paid expert, paid witnesses, paid examining physicians, and sometimes plaintiffs who are simply lying.

Filing so many frivolous suits and so frequently, the legal profession has become a major contributing factor to the exceptionally high malpractice insurance fees that doctors have to pay. Thirty years ago if I wanted to see my doctor, he would show up at my home and charge me a fair price to see me. Now I cannot see him or her without first having insurance. I is absurd.

So we say, let’s start this medical cost reform with a healthy dose of tort reform. Let’s have recourse on attorneys who file frivolous suits, let’s have tort reform where doctors can sue attorneys for any lawsuit they file which the attorney loses and where the doctor was found to have committed no wrongdoing or malpractice. Certainly if the initiated suit discredits the doctor or puts them through unnecessary legal action, then the initiating attorney should be held accountable. Let’s start there and see how dramatically these frivolous suits drop off.

As for the next aspect of rising health care costs, the problem comes when the public and/or certain organizations that assist the public, abuse the system. You may ask; How does this happen? Let’s take a look at real life example of this. Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. Each episode, called an apnea, lasts long enough so that one or more breaths are missed, and such episodes occur repeatedly throughout sleep. The standard definition of any apneic event includes a minimum 10 second interval between breaths, with either a neurological arousal (a 3-second or greater shift in EEG frequency), a blood oxygen desaturation of 3-4% or greater, or both arousal and desaturation. Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight sleep test called a polysomnogram, or a “sleep study”. This condition can lead to high blood pressure, heart problems and conditions, and in extreme cases even death.

Treatments include wearing a mask conencted to a machine (Called a CPAP machine) which blows air through the nose or nose and mouth thereby maintaining an open airway and eliminating the apnea’s. The CPAP machine, mask, and accessories can cost from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. When one is diagnosed with sleep apnea and a CPAP prescribed, one’s insurance may cover the cost of the machine and accessories. However, in many instances the insurance companies are forced to significanlty overpay for these devices for their insured individuals. The reason is that many of the suppliers also sell this equipment to medicare or medicaid patients. In doing so, they charge them the maximum allowed for a machine by those programs. Still, the program rules are that if they sell to medicare or medicaid patients at a specific price, then they are not allowed to sell at a lower price to others, else they risk losing their ability to provide to medicare or medicaid patients.

The Different Career Paths And Healthcare Graduate Degree For Medical Professionals

The field of healthcare has been one of the top choices of students around the globe. As a matter of fact, most of the students wanted to pursue a career on the health industry. The industry is providing a lot of jobs and career options for the professionals and they guarantee stable growth together with attractive benefits and compensation. It is probably the reason why a lot of people wanted to enter the industry.

Like any other fields on the industry, there are also a lot of opportunities for these professionals to take their careers on a whole new level and get more benefits and compensation. They can also aim for higher managerial positions. However, it will only be possible if they will take up a healthcare graduate degree. If you want to propel your career and excel on the field of health and medicine, here are some of the graduate degrees that you can consider.

Masters In Healthcare Administration

If you want to be an administrator of a particular hospital or healthcare company, this is probably the best program that you can pursue. The professionals that are involved in handling and direct care of patient who want to move to managerial roles can consider taking an MHA program. Since the program is specifically made for administration and managerial roles, you will learn about business education and build up clinical experiences to polish them for complex management roles.

Masters In Informatics

If you are interested in the application of technology to health services, health informatics can be a great option for you. The role of these professionals is to maintain and secure all the patient records on the hospital. They make use of their knowledge in technology to fulfill their duties and they are expected to always be updated on technological advances. This program involves training in computing skills and information systems.

Masters In Nursing Education

If you are a registered nurse who has a passion to educate and train future nurses in different settings, then this Masters program is the best one for you. This program will help RNs learn about curriculum development, teaching methods, polish mentoring skills, evaluation techniques and more. They will be more like teachers. However, this program is very strict and the nurses need to have a solid clinical background before they become educators.

Masters In Nursing Administration

This is also applicable for nurses who are looking for graduate degree programs. This is actually made to help train nurses for management level positions. They need to be ready to step back from patient care since they will be supervising nurses, delegating duties, developing and maintaining training programs and maintaining staffs.

These are only some of the programs offered to health professionals. You can look for graduate degree grants if you plan to pursue a higher level of efficiency on the field of health and medicine.

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Healthcare Reform Rising Costs of Benefits Puts Onus on Employees

Up to 159 million Americans (52 percent) are covered by employer-sponsored plans. The Affordable Care Act is changing the group health insurance scenario. Employers are concerned about the rising cost of per-employee benefit costs and are expecting their employees to contribute more out of their pay checks to the benefits package. This is borne out by the results of several studies, including ERCs recently published 2011/2012 Policies & Benefits Survey covering Northeast Ohio employers.

Recent Deloitte and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) research1 indicates that 85% of employers expect new health insurance law to raise per-employee benefit costs. Employees are expected to help employers face this challenge by paying more out of their pay checks to their benefits package. In fact, the focus on controlling healthcare costs is evident: 73% of the employers surveyed said that health care reform will push them to reevaluate their benefits packages over the next 12 months in light of health reform changes. Sixty-two per cent of employers have already made cost-sharing a part of their benefits packages.

Two-thirds of the Deloitte employer respondents are making no immediate changes to their benefit programs and adopting a “wait and see” approach for final healthcare reform provisions that may reduce plan design flexibility.

More controversial was the recent McKinsey & Company survey2 of 1,300 employers in early 2011 which found that 30% said they would “definitely or probably” stop offering employer coverage after 2014. Nearly half of the employers said they would consider alternatives to their current plans, including an insurance option that would only offer coverage only to certain employees.

A survey conducted by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and the Urban Institute3 last year showed that in 2010, employees with coverage contributed a greater share of the total premium, a significant change from the steady share they paid on average over the last decade. In 2010, covered employees on average contributed 19% of the total premium for single coverage (up from 17% in 2009) and 30% for family coverage (up from 27% in 2009).

According to ERCs 2011 survey, Northeast Ohio employers report that the average health insurance deductible paid by employees has risen significantly since 2009. As organizations strive to cope with the increase in costs, they are resorting to greater cost-sharing with employees. The survey indicates that employees’ co-pay amounts and contribution to group health insurance premiums also increased in the last two years.

Competing objectives are complicating matters. Deloitte/ISCEBS rates employers top five total reward priorities as:

Cost of healthcare benefits Employees willingness to share more of the benefit Ability of the benefits program to attract, motivate and retain talent Ability to comply with and adjust to PPACA’s mandate Clear alignment of total reward strategy with business strategy and brand

Why Healthcare Facilities are Favoring Physician Jobs

As the new generation of physicians are entering in medical profession & practices, the demand for employment opportunities is growing at a fast pace. Even hospitals and other medical facilities are also coming up with exciting employment options for physician jobs in order to achieve growth targets and reputational objectives.

Below are factors that influence employers from the medical industry to change long established trends. >

Freedom to change practice preferences: Young physicians have envisioned their success through opportunities in their medical career. The physicians seem to be avoiding private practice adaptability because of its uncertain future.

Demographic and job advantages: Many new physicians prefer to work in different locations after a certain period, it gives them the opportunity to travel and explore different places of their interest. The prime advantage of this trending in physician jobs is to have a perfect balance between work and life. As a result, enjoying life becomes possible for healthcare professionals and at the same time they put dedicated efforts in their jobs.

Incomes and revenues: Experienced physicians and other medical experts have already witnessed a phase of declination in their income, salaries and growth. Newer job opportunities for physicians offer assurance and safety in their earnings, thus enabling them to prosper in their career and enhance their lifestyle.

Number of medical facilities vs. available workforce: The world is experiencing acute shortage of talented physicians and specialists because new hospitals, clinics and other type of medical attention centers are taking up shape at an accelerating speed. As a result, the demand of medical professionals has become higher and is increasing day by day. Existing healthcare facilities are giving much importance to Physician Jobs and have developed strategies to retain and recruit medical experts by providing good remuneration, job benefits, convenience and other essential facilities with good career prospects. Finding employment opportunities to avail such physician jobs advantages, www.physicianjobs.com can provide you necessary guidance and support you with its capabilities.

What can You Do With a Healthcare Information Technology Degree in Chicago

Throughout history, healthcare records were recorded on paper if they were kept at all. With the twenty-first century patient bouncing from general practitioner to multiple specialists and back, these paper records have become inefficient and cumbersome. Thus, the digitizing of healthcare is a growing trend.

This increased use of electronic health records means that the health information technology job market is promising. Students looking to pursue a Chicago health information technology program have many options. Students can attain this degree via traditional or online schools.

Program Overview and Course Information

A Chicago healthcare information technology program focuses on training the student how to efficiently organize and code healthcare records as well as process data. While pursuing this associate’s degree, the student will learn other skills pertinent to working in a medical field, such as proper sanitation protocol and how to consult with doctors. The student will take courses such as medical technology, data analysis, anatomy and physiology, database security, and clinical classification.

There are several organizations that offer credentialing to the health information technician. These organizations include The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), The Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC), and the Professional Association of Health Care Coding Specialists (PAHCS). Obtaining credentials increases the health technician’s marketability.

Job Opportunities in Various Settings

Upon obtaining a degree from a Chicago health information technology program, the student will be eligible for job opportunities in a variety of settings including hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, home health agencies, and insurance companies.

Expert Job Skills Required

Job responsibilities may vary depending upon the setting in which the healthcare information technician works. However, most Chicago healthcare information technology jobs will require the technician to use computer software, maintain the security of electronic health records, and help the employer to implement expanded healthcare information networks.

Due to the growing implementation of healthcare technology, the job outlook for a health information technician is very good. Employment in this field is projected to grow much faster than average.

With the excellent job outlook of the health information technology field, now is the ideal time to pursue a degree in a Chicago health information technology program.

Learn the best ways to a healthy living by getting in touch with the best Chicago health information technology program in Chicago. The author is a renowned writer of topics that concern with Chicago healthcare information technology.

Doeren Mayhew IRS ramps up guidance on new small employer health insurance tax credit

The IRS is moving quickly to alert employers about a new tax credit for health insurance premiums. The recently enacted health care reform package (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) created the small employer health insurance tax credit. The temporary credit is targeted to small employers that offer or will offer health insurance coverage to their employees. The credit, like so many federal tax incentives, has certain qualifications. Please contact our office and we can arrange to review in detail how the credit may cut the cost of your business’s health insurance premiums. The dollar benefits of the credit are substantial and they apply immediately to 2010 premium costs.

Outreach

The IRS is sending postcards to more than four million small businesses in coming weeks. The postcards briefly describe the new tax credit and are just one part of the IRS’s outreach campaign to educate employers about the credit. The IRS has also created a special page on its web site on the credit along with a fact sheet and frequently asked questions and answers.

Maximum credit

The new health care credit is effective immediately so employers need to plan now to take advantage of it. The credit, which is available over the next five years, also rises over time but the enhanced credit comes with some additional requirements.

For tax years beginning in 2010 through 2013, the maximum credit reaches 35 percent of qualified premium costs paid by for-profit employers. The maximum credit is 25 percent of qualified premium costs paid by tax-exempt employers.

The maximum credit climbs to 50 percent of qualified premium costs paid by for-profit employers (35 percent for tax-exempt employers) for tax years beginning in 2014 through 2015. However, Congress imposed some additional requirements. An employer may claim the credit only if it offers one or more qualified health plans through a state insurance exchange. The health care reform package requires states to create insurance exchanges by January 1, 2014.

Example. ABC Co. employs nine individuals with average annual wages of $23,000 for each employee in 2010. ABC pays $72,000 in health care premiums for its employees. This amount does not exceed the average premium for the small group market in the state in which ABC offers coverage and ABC otherwise meets the requirements for the credit. ABC’s credit for 2010 is $25,200 (35 percent x $72,000).

Tax-exempt employers have additional limitations. If the amount of their credit exceeds the amount of payroll taxes of the tax-exempt employer during the calendar year in which the tax year begins, the credit is limited to the amount of payroll taxes.

FTEs

The maximum credit is available to qualified employers with no more than 10 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees paying average annual wages of $25,000 or less. The credit completely phases out if an employer has 25 or more FTEs or pays $50,000 or more in average annual wages. Effectively, a small employer can have exactly 25 FTEs or pay average annual compensation of exactly $50,000 and not receive a credit under the phase-out rules. The monetary amounts are adjusted for inflation after 2013.

The health care reform package explains how to calculate the number of FTEs. The number of an employer’s FTEs is determined by dividing the total hours for which the employer pays wages to employees during the year (but not more than 2,080 hours for any employee) by 2,080. The result, if not a whole number, is rounded to the next lowest whole number. Lawmakers selected 2,080 hours because 2,080 hours comprise the number of hours in a 52-week assuming a 40-hour work week. Any hours beyond 2,080, such as overtime hours, are not taken into account when calculating FTEs.

Example. ABC Co has nine employees. ABC pays Aidan, Bonnie, Catherine, David, and Eddie wages for 2,080 hours each for 2010. ABC pays Francine, Gary and Harry wages for 1,040 hours each for 2010. ABC pays Kieran wages for 2,300 hours for 2010. The total hours not exceeding 2,080 per employee is the sum of: –10,400 hours for the five employees paid for 2,080 hours each (5 x 2,080) plus –3,120 hours for the three employees paid for 1,040 hours each (3 x 1,040) plus –2,080 hours for the one employee paid for 2,300 hours (lesser of 2,300 and 2,080), which add up to 15,600 hours.

To calculate the number of FTEs, 15,600 is divided by 2,080, which results in 7.5, rounded to the next lowest whole number.

Average annual wages

A formula is also used to calculate average annual wages. The amount of average annual wages is determined by first dividing the total wages paid by the employer to employees during the employer’s tax year by the number of the employer’s FTEs for the year. The result is then rounded down to the nearest $1,000 (if not otherwise a multiple of $1,000).

Example. ABC Co. pays $224,000 in wages and has 10 FTEs. ABC’s average annual wages are $224,000 divided by 10 which equals $22,400, and is rounded down to the nearest $1,000 for a final number of $22,000

Owners and family members

Some individuals are excluded from the calculation of FTEs and average annual wages. These include a sole proprietor, a partner in a partnership, a shareholder owning more than two percent of an S corporation, and any owner of more than five percent of other businesses. Certain family members of these individuals are also excluded from the calculation of FTEs and average annual wages. These include a child, a parent, a sibling, and others. This list is not exhaustive. Please contact our office for more details about who is excluded from these calculations.

Premium deduction

Employers generally may deduct the cost of health insurance premiums paid on behalf of employees. The health care reform package does not change this general rule. However, the amount of premiums that an employer may deduct is reduced by the amount of the small employer health care tax credit.

Qualifying arrangement

Only premiums paid by the employer under a qualifying arrangement are counted in calculating the credit. Under a qualifying arrangement, the employer pays premiums for each employee enrolled in health care coverage offered by the employer in an amount equal to a uniform percentage (not less than 50 percent) of the premium cost of the coverage. The IRS is developing transition relief for 2010.

Additionally, the amount of an employer’s premium payments is capped in relation to the average premium for the small group market. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will determine the average premium for the small group market in a state.

Congress is currently reviewing the costs of premiums. The health care reform package includes a requirement, effective in 2011, that insurance companies spend at least 80 percent of premium revenue on actual health care. Additionally, the health care reform package establishes a process for the annual review of premium increases prior to their use along with public disclosure of how premium rates are determined.

Claiming the credit

Qualified for-profit employers will claim the credit on their annual income tax return. The IRS is expected to advise how tax-exempt employers will claim the credit. Our office will keep you posted of developments.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a qualified small business can choose to start offering health insurance coverage to employees in 2010 and be eligible for the credit. If you are considering providing insurance coverage to your employees, please contact our office. If you have already been paying premiums, don’t leave maximizing the new credit to chance; we can help you navigate the many federal rules that come into play.

As always, please contact Doeren Mayhew if you have any questions about the new small employer health insurance tax credit.

If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.

The Role Of Mobile Technology In Healthcare

The latest ongoing trend is seeing hospitals and healthcare providers join forces to build mobile solutions. All this is to help enhance patient care and fill in the bridges between doctors and patients in regards to medical help and guidance per se.

What is the use of mobile healthcare solutions?

Mobile healthcare solutions in the form of mobile apps provide patients with frequent information related to the disease they are tackling through their very own mobile device. This ensures that the patient is able to communicate with and get a health status check up with his/ her provider.

Mobile apps are intelligent and help provide an overall health status to the patient, simultaneously giving the care provider or medical professional an opportunity to advise disciplinary actions, keeping in mind the health of the patient.

What are the beneficial features that stand out for patients?

Thanks to healthcare IT services, healthcare providers can now create a quality checklist for each patient, this ensures that as and when the patient overshoots a vaccine schedule, it will be flagged with a due date. In other words, a notification indicating youve missed out on one your vaccinations will appear. Not only this, medicine reminders, doctors appointments, and other health related reminders.

What are the beneficial features that stand out for medical professionals?

Mobile apps like these help healthcare professionals, as they also maintain a health-record book that stores all the information regards the past, clinical tests, its results, notes from the doctors visit, contact details and a lot more of vital details. This saves the doctor a whole lot of time that he/she could now use to provide nothing less than quality healthcare.

Not only this, doctors also benefit as such apps maintain articles, manuals, videos and aid in providing education on specific chronic diseases, aiding doctors to help patients more effectively, improving the quality of life for patients that need it the most.

Conclusion:

Though mobile healthcare is catching up well, electronic healthcare software systems too are being installed and made use of globally. Both of these are crucial tools that are responsible for making health care more self-sufficient and less time consuming. Therefore, if you are a doctor and own a clinic or a hospital, be sure to collaborate with technology teams to help create a better future not only for your stream of work, but also to improve the quality of patient care. Healthcare IT services have come a long way.

Reasons Why Healthcare Public Relations Is Essential For Your Healthcare Business

Get Ahead Of The Competition
In this competitive world, Healthcare PR is a necessary component of any business related to the medical field. Whether its hospital public relations, a firm of doctors, or a business offering hospital quality equipment, a company must fight for a place in today’s competitive marketplace. Healthcare PR Agencies help a business to communicate, as well as push the public to recognize a medical firm as on par or even superior to its fellow competitors.

Healthcare PR Is Cost Efficient
Advertising is costly. These days it is difficult to know who that target audience is and which advertising will actually reach the intended audience. Public relations campaigns, on the other hand, deliberately reach out to all types of media. They also utilize the external and internal communication. Specialized PR firms seek to get a message to many different people in a variety of up and coming ways, such as blogs and social media, community outreach, advertisements both on and off line, and more.

Stop Controversy Before It Starts
When it comes to public image, business experts agree that the best defense is a good offense. Obviously no medical firm is perfect, and it is not enough to be ready to respond with the facts when the firm’s reputation is questioned. So to earn the good will of the community, hospital public relations agencies ensure that a firm is recognized for the good work that they do. Then, if a controversy arises, the healthcare business or hospital is not condemned by the public court of opinion via the media or potential customers. A health-related business needs to create public trust, and healthcare PR companies often make that happen.

Sustaining a Client Base
Last but not least, healthcare PR Agencies help healthcare businesses to create and maintain a large client base. Using unique techniques to reach the public at large, heatlhcare agencies will always keep the firms name in the mind of the public. Its just too easy to be forgotten, but a good public relations agency wont let your firm lose its client base.