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1.  Survey of social health insurance structure in selected countries; providing framework for basic health insurance in Iran 
Introduction and Objectives:
Health system reforms are the most strategic issue that has been seriously considered in healthcare systems in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency and effectiveness. The costs of health system finance in our country, lack of universal coverage in health insurance, and related issues necessitate reforms in our health system financing. The aim of this research was to prepare a structure of framework for social health insurance in Iran and conducting a comparative study in selected countries with social health insurance.
Materials and Methods:
This comparative descriptive study was conducted in three phases. The first phase of the study examined the structure of health social insurance in four countries – Germany, South Korea, Egypt, and Australia. The second phase was to develop an initial model, which was designed to determine the shared and distinguishing points of the investigated structures, for health insurance in Iran. The third phase was to validate the final research model. The developed model by the Delphi method was given to 20 professionals in financing of the health system, health economics and management of healthcare services. Their comments were collected in two stages and its validity was confirmed.
Findings:
The study of the structure of health insurance in the selected countries shows that health social insurance in different countries have different structures. Based on the findings of the present study, the current situation of the health system, and the conducted surveys, the following framework is suitable for the health social insurance system in Iran. The Health Social Insurance Organization has a unique service by having five funds of governmental employees, companies and NGOs, self-insured, villagers, and others, which serves as a nongovernmental organization under the supervision of public law and by decision- and policy-making of the Health Insurance Supreme Council. Membership in this organization is based on the nationality or residence, which the insured by paying the insurance premiums within 6-10% of their income and employment status, are entitled to use the services. Providing services to the insured are performed by indirect forms. Payments to the service providers for the fee of inpatient and outpatient services are conservative and the related diagnostic groups system.
Conclusions:
Paying attention to the importance of modification of the fragmented health insurance system and financing the country's healthcare can reduce much of the failure of the health system, including the access of the public to health services. The countries according to the degree of development, governmental, and private insurance companies and existing rules must use the appropriate structure, comprehensive approach to the structure, and financing of the health social insurance on the investigated basis and careful attention to the intersections and differentiation. Studied structures, using them in the proposed approach and taking advantages of the perspectives of different beneficiaries about discussed topics can be important and efficient in order to achieve the goals of the health social insurance.
doi:10.4103/2277-9531.145919
PMCID: PMC4275610  PMID: 25540789
Health insurance; health insurance structure; insurance; selected countries
2.  The role of insurance in the achievement of universal coverage within a developing country context: South Africa as a case study 
BMC Public Health  2012;12(Suppl 1):S5.
Background
Achieving universal coverage as an objective needs to confront the reality of multiple mechanisms, with healthcare financing and provision occurring in both public and private settings. South Africa has both large and mature public and private health systems offering useful insights into how they can be effectively harmonized to optimise coverage. Private healthcare in South Africa has also gone through many phases and regulatory regimes which, through careful review, can help identify potential policy frameworks that can optimise their ability to deepen coverage in a manner that complements the basic coverage of public arrangements.
Research question
Using South Africa as a case study, this review examines whether private health systems are susceptible to regulation and therefore able to support an extension and deepening of coverage when complementing a pre-existing publicly funded and delivered health system?
Methods
The approach involves a review of different stages in the development of the South African private health system and its response to policy changes. The focus is on the time-bound characteristics of the health system and associated policy responses and opportunities. A distinction is consequently made between the early, largely unregulated, phases of development and more mature phases with alternative regulatory regimes.
Results
The private health system in South Africa has played an important supplementary role in achieving universal coverage throughout its history, but more especially in the post-Apartheid period. However, the quality of this role has been erratic, influenced predominantly by policy vacillation.
The private system expanded rapidly during the 1980s mainly due to the pre-existence of a mature health insurance system and a weakening public hospital system which could accommodate and facilitate an increased demand for private hospital services. This growth served to expand commercial interest in health insurance, in the form of regulated medical schemes, which until this point took the form of non-commercial occupational (employer-based) schemes. During the 1980s government acquiesced to industry lobbies arguing for the deregulation of health insurance from 1989, with an extreme deregulation occurring in 1994, evidently in anticipation of the change of government associated with the democratic dispensation. Dramatic unintended consequences followed, with substantial increases in provider and funder costs coinciding with uncontrolled discrimination against poor health risks.
Against significant industry opposition, including legal challenges, partial re-regulation took effect from 2000 which removed the discretion of schemes to discriminate against poor health risks. This included: the implementation of a strong regulator of health insurance; the establishment of one allowable vehicle able to provide health insurance; open enrolment, whereby schemes could not refuse membership applications; mandatory minimum benefit requirements; and a prohibition on setting contributions or premiums on the basis of health status. After a two-year lag, dramatically reduced cost trends and contributions became evident. Aside from generally tighter regulation across a range of fronts, this appears related to the need for schemes to compete more on the basis of healthcare provider costs than demographic risk profiles. Despite an incomplete reform improved equitable coverage and cost-containment was nevertheless achieved.
A more complete regulatory regime is consequently likely to deepen coverage by: further stabilising and even decreasing costs; enhanced risk pooling; and access for low income groups. This would occur if South Africa: improved the quality of free public services, thereby creating competitive constraints for medical schemes; introduced risk-equalisation, increasing the pressure on schemes to compete on the cost and quality of coverage rather than their risk profile; and through the establishment of improved price regulation.
Conclusions
The objective of universal coverage can be seen in two dimensions, horizontal extension and vertical deepening. Private systems play an important role in deepening coverage by mobilising revenue from income earners for health services over-and-above the horizontal extension role of public systems and related subsidies. South Africa provides an example of how this natural deepening occurs whether regulated or unregulated. It also demonstrates how poor regulation of mature private systems can severely undermine this role and diminish achievements below attainable levels of social protection. The mature South African system has demonstrated its sensitivity to regulatory design and responds rapidly to changes both positive and negative. When measures to enhance risk pooling are introduced, coverage is expanded and becomes increasingly fair and sustainable. When removed, however, the system becomes less stable and fair as costs rise and people with poor health status are systematically excluded from cover. This susceptibility to regulation therefore presents an opportunity to policymakers to achieve social protection objectives through the strategic management of markets rather than exclusively through less responsive systems based on tax-funded direct provision. This is especially relevant as private markets for healthcare are inevitable, with policy discretion reduced to a choice between functional or dysfunctional regimes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-S1-S5
PMCID: PMC3381693  PMID: 22992410
3.  Can Broader Diffusion of Value-Based Insurance Design Increase Benefits from US Health Care without Increasing Costs? Evidence from a Computer Simulation Model 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(2):e1000234.
Using a computer simulation based on US data, R. Scott Braithwaite and colleagues calculate the benefits of value-based insurance design, in which patients pay less for highly cost-effective services.
Background
Evidence suggests that cost sharing (i.e.,copayments and deductibles) decreases health expenditures but also reduces essential care. Value-based insurance design (VBID) has been proposed to encourage essential care while controlling health expenditures. Our objective was to estimate the impact of broader diffusion of VBID on US health care benefits and costs.
Methods and Findings
We used a published computer simulation of costs and life expectancy gains from US health care to estimate the impact of broader diffusion of VBID. Two scenarios were analyzed: (1) applying VBID solely to pharmacy benefits and (2) applying VBID to both pharmacy benefits and other health care services (e.g., devices). We assumed that cost sharing would be eliminated for high-value services (<$100,000 per life-year), would remain unchanged for intermediate- or unknown-value services ($100,000–$300,000 per life-year or unknown), and would be increased for low-value services (>$300,000 per life-year). All costs are provided in 2003 US dollars. Our simulation estimated that approximately 60% of health expenditures in the US are spent on low-value services, 20% are spent on intermediate-value services, and 20% are spent on high-value services. Correspondingly, the vast majority (80%) of health expenditures would have cost sharing that is impacted by VBID. With prevailing patterns of cost sharing, health care conferred 4.70 life-years at a per-capita annual expenditure of US$5,688. Broader diffusion of VBID to pharmaceuticals increased the benefit conferred by health care by 0.03 to 0.05 additional life-years, without increasing costs and without increasing out-of-pocket payments. Broader diffusion of VBID to other health care services could increase the benefit conferred by health care by 0.24 to 0.44 additional life-years, also without increasing costs and without increasing overall out-of-pocket payments. Among those without health insurance, using cost saving from VBID to subsidize insurance coverage would increase the benefit conferred by health care by 1.21 life-years, a 31% increase.
Conclusion
Broader diffusion of VBID may amplify benefits from US health care without increasing health expenditures.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
More money is spent per person on health care in the US than in any other country. US health care expenditure accounts for 16.2% of the gross domestic product and this figure is rising. Indeed, the increase in health care costs is outstripping the economy's growth rate. Consequently, US policy makers and providers of health insurance—health care in the US is largely provided by the private sector and is paid for through private health insurance or through government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid—are looking for better ways to control health expenditures. Although some health care cost reductions can be achieved by increasing efficiency, controlling the quantity of health care consumed is an essential component of strategies designed to reduce health expenditures. These strategies can target health care providers (for example, by requiring primary care physicians to provide referrals before their patients' insurance provides cover for specialist care) or can target consumers, often through cost sharing. Nowadays, most insurance plans include several tiers of cost sharing in which patients pay a larger proportion of the costs of expensive interventions than of cheap interventions.
Why Was This Study Done?
Cost sharing decreases health expenditure but it can also reduce demand for essential care and thus reduce the quality of care. Consequently, some experts have proposed value-based insurance design (VBID), an approach in which the amount of cost sharing is set according to the “value” of an intervention rather than its cost. The value of an intervention is defined as the ratio of the additional benefits to the additional costs of the intervention when compared to the next best alternative intervention. Under VBID, cost sharing could be waived for office visits necessary to control blood pressure in people with diabetes, which deliver high-value care, but could be increased for high-tech scans for dementia, which deliver low-value care. VBID has been adopted by several private health insurance schemes and its core principal is endorsed by US policy makers. However, it is unclear whether wider use of VBID is warranted. In this study, the researchers use a computer simulation of the US health care system to estimate the impact of broader diffusion of VBID on US health care benefits and costs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used their computer simulation to estimate the impact of applying VBID to cost sharing for drugs alone and to cost sharing for drugs, procedures, and other health care services for one million hypothetical US patients. In their simulation, the researchers eliminated cost sharing for services that cost less than US$100,000 per life-year gained (high-value services) and increased cost-sharing for services that cost more than US$300,000 per life-year gained (low-value services); cost-sharing remained unchanged for intermediate- or unknown-value services. With the current pattern of cost sharing, 60% of health expenditure is spent on low-value services and health care increases life expectancy by 4.70 years for an annual per person expenditure of US$5,688, the researchers report. With widespread application of VBID to cost sharing for drugs alone, health care increased life expectancy by an additional 0.03 to 0.05 years without increasing costs. With widespread application of VBID to cost sharing for other health care services, health care increased life expectancy by a further 0.24 to 0.44 years without additional costs. Finally, if the costs saved by applying VBID were used to subsidize insurance for the 15% of the US population currently without health insurance, the benefit conferred by health care among these people would increase by 1.21 life-years.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this study depend on the many assumptions included in the computer simulation, which, although complex, is a greatly simplified representation of the US health care system. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that if VBID were used more widely within the US health care system to encourage the use of high-value services, it might be possible to amplify the benefits from US health care without increasing health expenditures. Importantly, the money saved by VBID could be used to help fund universal insurance, a central aim of US health care reform. More research is needed, however, to determine the value of various health care interventions and to investigate whether other ways of linking value to cost sharing might yield even better gains in life expectancy at little or no additional cost.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000234.
Wikipedia has a page on health care in the United States (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Families USA works to promote high-quality affordable health care for all Americans and provides information about all aspects of US health care and about US health care reforms
The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid provides information on the major government health insurance programs and on US national health expenditure statistics
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000234
PMCID: PMC2821897  PMID: 20169114
4.  The national health insurance scheme: perceptions and experiences of health care providers and clients in two districts of Ghana 
Background
Prepayments and risk pooling through social health insurance has been advocated by international development organizations. Social health insurance is seen as a mechanism that helps mobilize resources for health, pool risk, and provide more access to health care services for the poor. Hence Ghana implemented the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to help promote access to health care services for Ghanaians. The study examined the influence of the NHIS on the behavior of health care providers in their treatment of insured and uninsured clients.
Methods
The study took place in Bolgatanga (urban) and Builsa (rural) districts in Ghana. Data was collected through exit survey with 200 insured and uninsured clients, 15 in-depth interviews with health care providers and health insurance managers, and 8 focus group discussions with insured and uninsured community members.
Results
The NHIS promoted access for insured and mobilized revenue for health care providers. Both insured and uninsured were satisfied with care (survey finding). However, increased utilization of health care services by the insured leading to increased workloads for providers influenced their behavior towards the insured. Most of the insured perceived and experienced long waiting times, verbal abuse, not being physically examined and discrimination in favor of the affluent and uninsured. The insured attributed their experience to the fact that they were not making immediate payments for services. A core challenge of the NHIS was a delay in reimbursement which affected the operations of health facilities and hence influenced providers’ behavior as well. Providers preferred clients who would make instant payments for health care services. Few of the uninsured were utilizing health facilities and visit only in critical conditions. This is due to the increased cost of health care services under the NHIS.
Conclusion
The perceived opportunistic behavior of the insured by providers was responsible for the difference in the behavior of providers favoring the uninsured. Besides, the delay in reimbursement also accounted for providers’ negative attitude towards the insured. There is urgent need to address these issues in order to promote confidence in the NHIS, as well as its sustainability for the achievement of universal coverage.
doi:10.1186/2191-1991-2-13
PMCID: PMC3505458  PMID: 22828034
National health insurance; Social health insurance; Universal health coverage; Perceptions; Experiences; Health care providers’ behavior; Insured; Uninsured; Ghana
5.  Virtual study tour to integrated care in Germany 
In Germany health policy-makers of all parties believe in competition as an incentive for creating innovation and to keep costs down. Sickness funds cover about 90% of the population=regulated market/10% are covered by health insurance plans=private market. The sickness funds in the regulated market have the same premium (this goes to a national agency and is distributed to the funds after a risk adjusted scheme that uses morbidity trees to develop a fair payment to the funds) but vary whether they have to ask for a separately paid surplus premium.
Sickness funds compete about surplus premiums, services and offers to the patients and about selection (healthy vs. sick). They have to ask: What are the strongest interventions in increasing health status and keeping costs down?Who is offering a comprehensive and sustainable solution serving my population?With what kind of reimbursement scheme do I attract the right spirit … not too much interventions, but not too few as well …. tackling the right people … using the newest technology, but with as few costs as possible?
For more information on integrated care in Germany, please follow the link to the power point presentation below.
PMCID: PMC3184811
Germany; population based integrated care
6.  The Influence of Health Systems on Hypertension Awareness, Treatment, and Control: A Systematic Literature Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001490.
Will Maimaris and colleagues systematically review the evidence that national or regional health systems, including place of care and medication co-pays, influence hypertension awareness, treatment, and control.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Hypertension (HT) affects an estimated one billion people worldwide, nearly three-quarters of whom live in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs). In both developed and developing countries, only a minority of individuals with HT are adequately treated. The reasons are many but, as with other chronic diseases, they include weaknesses in health systems. We conducted a systematic review of the influence of national or regional health systems on HT awareness, treatment, and control.
Methods and Findings
Eligible studies were those that analyzed the impact of health systems arrangements at the regional or national level on HT awareness, treatment, control, or antihypertensive medication adherence. The following databases were searched on 13th May 2013: Medline, Embase, Global Health, LILACS, Africa-Wide Information, IMSEAR, IMEMR, and WPRIM. There were no date or language restrictions. Two authors independently assessed papers for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias. A narrative synthesis of the findings was conducted. Meta-analysis was not conducted due to substantial methodological heterogeneity in included studies. 53 studies were included, 11 of which were carried out in LMICs. Most studies evaluated health system financing and only four evaluated the effect of either human, physical, social, or intellectual resources on HT outcomes. Reduced medication co-payments were associated with improved HT control and treatment adherence, mainly evaluated in US settings. On balance, health insurance coverage was associated with improved outcomes of HT care in US settings. Having a routine place of care or physician was associated with improved HT care.
Conclusions
This review supports the minimization of medication co-payments in health insurance plans, and although studies were largely conducted in the US, the principle is likely to apply more generally. Studies that identify and analyze complexities and links between health systems arrangements and their effects on HT management are required, particularly in LMICs.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2008, one billion people, three-quarters of whom were living in low- and middle-income countries, had high blood pressure (hypertension). Worldwide, hypertension, which rarely has any symptoms, leads to about 7.5 million deaths annually from heart attacks, stroke, other cardiovascular diseases, and kidney disease. Hypertension, selected by the World Health Organization as the theme for World Health Day 2013, is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure, the force that blood circulating in the body exerts on the inside of large blood vessels. Blood pressure is highest when the heart is contracts to pump blood out (systolic blood pressure) and lowest when the heart relaxes and refills (diastolic blood pressure). Normal adult blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 mmHg (a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mmHg). A blood pressure reading of more than 140/90 mmHg indicates hypertension. Many factors affect blood pressure, but overweight people and individuals who eat fatty or salty foods are at high risk of developing hypertension.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most individuals can achieve good hypertension control, which reduces death and disability from cardiovascular and kidney disease, by making lifestyle changes (mild hypertension) and/or by taking antihypertensive drugs. Yet, in both developed and developing countries, many people with hypertension are not aware of their condition and are not adequately treated. As with other chronic diseases, weaknesses in health care systems probably contribute to the inadequate treatment of hypertension. A health care system comprises all the organizations, institutions, and resources whose primary purpose is to improve health. Weaknesses in health care systems can exist at the national, regional, district, community, and household level. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers investigate how national and regional health care system arrangements influence hypertension awareness, treatment, and control. Actions that might influence hypertension care at this level of health care systems include providing treatment for hypertension at no or reduced cost, the introduction of financial incentives to healthcare practitioners for the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, and enhanced insurance coverage in countries such as the US where people pay for health care through insurance policies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 53 studies that analyzed whether regional or national health care systems arrangements were associated with patient awareness of hypertension, treatment of hypertension, adherence to antihypertensive medication treatment, and control of hypertension. The researchers used an established conceptual framework for health care systems and an approach called narrative synthesis to analyze the results of these studies, most of which were conducted in the US (36 studies) and other high-income countries (eight studies). Nearly all the studies evaluated the effects of health system financing on hypertension outcomes, although several looked at the effects of delivery and governance of health systems on these outcomes. The researchers' analysis revealed an association between reduced medication co-payments (drug costs that are not covered by health insurance and that are paid by patients in countries without universal free healthcare) and improved hypertension control and treatment adherence, mainly in US settings. In addition, in US settings, health insurance coverage was associated with improved hypertension outcomes, as was having a routine physician or place of care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that minimizing co-payments for health care and expansion of health insurance coverage in countries without universal free health care may improve the awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension. Although these findings are based mainly on US studies, they are likely to apply more generally but, importantly, these findings indicate that additional, high-quality studies are needed to unravel the impact of health systems arrangements on the management of hypertension. In particular, they reveal few studies in low- and middle-income countries where most of the global burden of hypertension lies and where weaknesses in health systems often result in deficiencies in the care of chronic diseases. Moreover, they highlight a need for studies that evaluate how aspects of health care systems other than financing (for example, delivery and governance mechanisms) and interactions between health care system arrangements affect hypertension outcomes. Without the results of such studies, governments and national and international organizations will not know the best ways to deal effectively with the global public-health crisis posed by hypertension.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001490.
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has patient information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish)
The American Heart Association provides information on high blood pressure (in several languages) and personal stories about dealing with high blood pressure
The UK National Health Service (NHS) Choices website provides detailed information for patients about hypertension and a personal story about hypertension
The World Health Organization provides information on controlling blood pressure and on health systems (in several languages); its "A Global Brief on Hypertension" was published on World Health Day 2013
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001490
PMCID: PMC3728036  PMID: 23935461
7.  The effect of marginal tax rate on the probability of employment-based insurance by risk group. 
Health Services Research  2000;35(1 Pt 2):239-251.
RESEARCH OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of the tax subsidy on participation in employment-based health insurance for high- and low-risk individuals. The total exclusion of employer-paid health insurance premiums from taxable income has frequently been seen as contributing to excess insurance and hence welfare loss. However, less attention has been paid to quantifying the extent to which the tax subsidy mitigates the deleterious effects of adverse selection on the health insurance market. Adverse selection reduces pooling in an insurance market, so that high-risk individuals are either unable to obtain coverage or are forced to pay premiums that are unaffordable to all but the wealthiest. If there is an external benefit to society of an individual's purchase of medical care, then the presence of adverse selection may reduce the purchase of health care below the socially optimal level. Therefore, a mechanism for enhancing access to insurance and ultimately to medical care for high-risk individuals may be socially desirable. STUDY DESIGN: Data from the March 1996-March 1998 Current Population Survey (CPS). For each observation in the sample, state and federal income tax liability is calculated using code based on the ACIR Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism. The probability of having employment-based coverage in either one's own name or as a dependent is evaluated as a function of demographic variables such as age, education, marital status and family size, family income, type of employment, employer size, occupation, location, marginal tax rate, risk group (determined by self-assessed health status), and an interaction between risk group and tax rate. CPS data do not identify individuals who have declined offered coverage. Under alternative models of employer group decision making, the tax subsidy will have an important influence on the employer's decision to offer coverage. If offered, high-risk individuals accept coverage, while some low-risk individuals may decline coverage. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: For all individuals, the probability of having coverage is an increasing function of the marginal tax rate. Those classified as high-risk because their own or a family member's self-assessed health status is fair or poor are less likely to have coverage than those considered low-risk. The effect of the tax subsidy on insurance coverage is greater for high-risk individuals than for individuals classified as low-risk. CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results indicate that high-risk individuals benefit from the tax subsidy by increased access to employment-based coverage. Therefore, welfare loss from excess levels of health insurance may be mitigated by welfare gain through expanded access to health insurance and hence to health care for high-risk individuals. IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY, DELIVERY, OR PRACTICE: Elimination or reduction of the tax exclusion of health insurance premiums may have the unintended consequences of disproportionately reducing the probability of obtaining coverage in the employment-based market for high-risk individuals.
PMCID: PMC1089098  PMID: 10778812
8.  Medigap Premiums and Medicare HMO Enrollment 
Health Services Research  2002;37(6):1445-1468.
Objective
Markets for Medicare HMOs (health maintenance organizations) and supplemental Medicare coverage are often treated separately in existing literature. Yet because managed care plans and Medigap plans both cover services not covered by basic Medicare, these markets are clearly interrelated. We examine the extent to which Medigap premiums affect the likelihood of the elderly joining managed care plans.
Data Sources
The analysis is based on a sample of Medicare beneficiaries drawn from the 1996–1997 Community Tracking Study (CTS) Household Survey by the Center for Studying Health System Change. Respondents span 56 different CTS sites from 30 different states. Measures of premiums for privately-purchased Medigap policies were collected from a survey of large insurers serving this market. Data for individual, market, and HMO characteristics were collected from the CTS, InterStudy, and HCFA (Health Care Financing Administration).
Study Design
Our analysis uses a reduced-form logit model to estimate the probability of Medicare HMO participation as a function of Medigap premiums controlling for other market- and individual-level characteristics. The logit coefficients were then used to simulate changes in Medicare participation in response to changes in Medigap premiums.
Principal Findings
We found that Medigap premiums vary considerably among the geographic markets included in our sample. Measures of premiums from different insurers and for different types of Medigap policies were generally highly correlated across markets. Our models consistently indicate a strong positive relationship between Medigap premiums and HMO participation. This result is robust across several specifications. Simulations suggest that a one standard deviation increase in Medigap premiums would increase HMO participation by more than 8 percentage points.
Conclusions
This research provides strong evidence that Medigap premiums have a significant effect on seniors' participation in Medicare HMOs. Policy initiatives aimed at lowering Medigap premiums will likely discourage enrollment in Medicare HMOs, holding other factors constant. Although the Medigap premiums are just one factor affecting the future penetration rate of Medicare HMOs, they are an important driver of HMO enrollment and should be considered carefully when creating policy related to seniors' supplemental coverage. Similarly, our results imply that reforms to the Medicare HMO market would influence the demand for Medigap policies.
doi:10.1111/1475-6773.10832
PMCID: PMC1464046  PMID: 12546281
Medigap; Medicare managed care; premium effect on enrollment decisions; HMOs; Medicare
9.  Estimation of a Hedonic Pricing Model for Medigap Insurance 
Health Services Research  2006;41(6):2097-2113.
Objective
This paper uses a unique database to examine premiums paid by beneficiaries for Medigap supplemental coverage. Average premiums charged by insurers are reported, as well as premiums by enrollee age and gender, and additional policy characteristics. Marginal prices for Medigap benefits are estimated using hedonic price regressions. In addition, the paper considers how additional policy characteristics and geographic differences in the use and cost of medical care affect premiums.
Data Sources/Study Setting
A comprehensive database on premiums paid by beneficiaries for newly issued Medigap policies in the year 2000 along with state-level characteristics.
Study Design
Hedonic pricing equations are used to estimate implicit prices for Medigap benefits.
Data Collection/Extraction Methods
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services contracted for the creation of a detailed database on Medigap premiums. Data were collected in three stages. First, letters were sent directly to insurers requesting premium data. Second, letters were directly to state insurance commissioner's offices requesting premium data. Last, each state insurance commissioner's office was visited to collect missing data.
Principal Findings
With the exceptions of the part B deductible and drug benefit, Medigap supplemental insurance is priced consistent with the actuarial value of benefits offered under the standardized plans. Premiums vary substantially based on rating method, whether the policy is guaranteed issue, Medigap Select, or explicitly for smokers. Premiums increase with enrollee age, but do not vary between men and women. The relationship between premiums and enrollee age varies across rating methods. Attained-age policies show the strongest relationship between age and premiums, while community-rated premiums, by definition, do not vary with age. Medigap supplemental insurance premiums are higher in states with poorer health, greater utilization, and greater managed care penetration.
Conclusions
Despite the high cost, Medigap plans are generally priced in accordance with the actuarial value of benefits. The primary exception is the drug benefit, which appears to be subject to substantial adverse selection. Benefits such as the part B deductible and at-home recovery benefit offer little value to consumers. Several states require insurers to community rate premiums. Such regulation has important implications for premiums, and research needs to consider the impact of such regulation on the Medigap market.
doi:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2006.00591.x
PMCID: PMC1955311  PMID: 17116111
Medigap; premiums; Medicare supplemental insurance; hedonic pricing models
10.  Affordable Care Act Risk Adjustment: Overview, Context, and Challenges 
Medicare & Medicaid Research Review  2014;4(3):mmrr2014-004-03-a02.
Beginning in 2014, individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase private health insurance through competitive marketplaces. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides for a program of risk adjustment in the individual and small group markets in 2014 as Marketplaces are implemented and new market reforms take effect. The purpose of risk adjustment is to lessen or eliminate the influence of risk selection on the premiums that plans charge and the incentive for plans to avoid sicker enrollees.
This article —the first of three in the Medicare & Medicaid Research Review—describes the key program goal and issues in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developed risk adjustment methodology, and identifies key choices in how the methodology responds to these issues. The goal of the HHS risk adjustment methodology is to compensate health insurance plans for differences in enrollee health mix so that plan premiums reflect differences in scope of coverage and other plan factors, but not differences in health status. The methodology includes a risk adjustment model and a risk transfer formula that together address this program goal as well as three issues specific to ACA risk adjustment: 1) new population; 2) cost and rating factors; and 3) balanced transfers within state/market. The risk adjustment model, described in the second article, estimates differences in health risks taking into account the new population and scope of coverage (actuarial value level). The transfer formula, described in the third article, calculates balanced transfers that are intended to account for health risk differences while preserving permissible premium differences.
doi:10.5600/mmrr.004.03.a02
PMCID: PMC4214269  PMID: 25364625
risk adjustment; affordable care act; ACA; risk transfers; risk selection; risk equalization; plan liability risk score; health insurance marketplaces
11.  Analysis of the ‘reformpool’-activity in Austria: is the challenge met? 
Aim
The purpose of our study is to analyse the activities initiated by the foundation of the reformpools on the regional level. We wanted to see not only what projects have emerged from these funds, but also how the incentives of this special way of funding influence the activity and what overall impact can be expected on health services delivery in the future.
Context
In Austria, all expenses in the outpatient sector are borne by the statutory health insurance. But in the inpatient sector, SHI just co-finances about 45% of all costs incurred by patients, with the rest contributed by the federal, regional and municipal level. This, however, leads to a number of problems in today's epidemiological situation with patients in need of many different interventions in the course of their chronic disease.
Originally with the aim of finding solutions to these interface problems between inpatient and outpatient care, the healthcare reform 2005 instated the instrument of the reformpool. The reformpool unites funds from social health insurance and regions to finance projects that develop new ways of health services delivery across the sectors. In the course of recent reforms, it became explicitly possible to sponsor projects of integrated care, which had de facto already been the case before.
Theory
The reform pool has various disincentives or wrong incentives compared to e.g. the German ‘Anschubfinanzierung’ for IC-contracts, which was probably a role-model for the Austrian reformpool, because of the underlying differences in the healthcare system and the distinct differences in the regulation. For example, the ‘Anschubfinanzierung’ in Germany withdraws money from the available funds for contract physicians to finance IC-projects, whereas in Austria, their fees are fixed. So in Austria, there is no incentive to retrieve money by participating in such projects. For the stakeholders supplying the pool, mainly the sickness funds and the regions, many projects inflict additional costs on the one or on the other in the future. So as both parties have to agree on projects, there is a strong basic disincentive to grant funds in the present. If a project is in both their interest because it is reducing costs, the care providers might not be interested to participate, as this would diminish their revenues in the future. What is more, the federal control over the (region-based) funds and projects is poor, which might lead to duplication of efforts and missing scale-efficiency in some regions.
Methods and data
For our analysis, we conducted a survey with a standardised questionnaire sent to the management of the regional health funds, which are responsible for the reformpool funds. The questionnaire was checked by experts of the federal association of social security institutions. We also conducted an on-site visit of the reformpool-manager, a programme which can be used to evaluate the reformpool-projects. In addition, we used all available evaluation reports of projects to assess the situation of evaluation of the projects. Furthermore, we used financial data from the regional health funds, the federal association of social security institutions, from the ministry of health and the regional health funds to assess the usage of the reformpool.
(Preliminary) Results
The qualitative results are mixed. Some projects are promising with regard to improvements of the current situation and are well evaluated. Many projects neglect the requirement of the reformpool to be such as to yield a monetary benefit for the system but only focus on improving service delivery. Some evaluations are not well operationalised and thus, arguments why these projects should be transformed to ordinarily financed services will be lacking. The reformpool activity set on very slowly, with only one project already started in 2005, the first possible year. In 2007 we see the highest number (23) of new projects granted and the highest monetary volume, €11 Mio total for 21 of them 1, with activity subsiding in 2008 (6 projects with a volume of € 2.5 Mio total for 5 of them 1) and most certainly in 2009 (with diminishing tax revenues and health insurance contributions) with only one project granted in the first quarter of the year. Of all funds (theoretically) available, only about 16% have been put to use in a reformpool project per year, with high variation (e.g. in the region of Styria over 30%, in Tyrol only 1.5%).
(Preliminary) Conclusions
From our study we can tell that the instrument of reformpool was not devised well concerning its incentive structure, and the interest to conduct such projects is diminishing. Stricter control of the requirements by the federal level, more pronounced requirements, a dedication of the funds to projects instead of a virtual budget and more cooperation between regions could improve the effectiveness of the instrument. Conflicts of interest: The project was funded by the federal association of social security institutions. All authors are researchers at the IHS and hold no commercial interests in the subject. Additional information: Founded by the economist Oskar Morgenstern and the sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld, the IHS (Institute for Advanced Studies) is a non-profit post-graduate teaching and research facility in the fields of economics, sociology and politology, and one of the two Austrian institutes preparing the official economic forecast for Austria. For more than a decade, it has been one of the major research facilities in the fields of health economics and health policy in Austria.
PMCID: PMC2807071
evidence-based guidelines; quality of care
12.  Universal Health Insurance in India: Ensuring Equity, Efficiency, and Quality 
Indian health system is characterized by a vast public health infrastructure which lies underutilized, and a largely unregulated private market which caters to greater need for curative treatment. High out-of-pocket (OOP) health expenditures poses barrier to access for healthcare. Among those who get hospitalized, nearly 25% are pushed below poverty line by catastrophic impact of OOP healthcare expenditure. Moreover, healthcare costs are spiraling due to epidemiologic, demographic, and social transition. Hence, the need for risk pooling is imperative. The present article applies economic theories to various possibilities for providing risk pooling mechanism with the objective of ensuring equity, efficiency, and quality care. Asymmetry of information leads to failure of actuarially administered private health insurance (PHI). Large proportion of informal sector labor in India's workforce prevents major upscaling of social health insurance (SHI). Community health insurance schemes are difficult to replicate on a large scale. We strongly recommend institutionalization of tax-funded Universal Health Insurance Scheme (UHIS), with complementary role of PHI. The contextual factors for development of UHIS are favorable. SHI schemes should be merged with UHIS. Benefit package of this scheme should include preventive and in-patient curative care to begin with, and gradually include out-patient care. State-specific priorities should be incorporated in benefit package. Application of such an insurance system besides being essential to the goals of an effective health system provides opportunity to regulate private market, negotiate costs, and plan health services efficiently. Purchaser-provider split provides an opportunity to strengthen public sector by allowing providers to compete.
doi:10.4103/0970-0218.99907
PMCID: PMC3483505  PMID: 23112438
Equity; health insurance; health financing; India; universal healthcare
13.  Community perceptions of health insurance and their preferred design features: implications for the design of universal health coverage reforms in Kenya 
Background
Health insurance is currently being considered as a mechanism for promoting progress to universal health coverage (UHC) in many African countries. The concept of health insurance is relatively new in Africa, it is hardly well understood and remains unclear how it will function in countries where the majority of the population work outside the formal sector. Kenya has been considering introducing a national health insurance scheme (NHIS) since 2004. Progress has been slow, but commitment to achieve UHC through a NHIS remains. This study contributes to this process by exploring communities’ understanding and perceptions of health insurance and their preferred designs features. Communities are the major beneficiaries of UHC reforms. Kenyans should understand the implications of health financing reforms and their preferred design features considered to ensure acceptability and sustainability.
Methods
Data presented in this paper are part of a study that explored feasibility of health insurance in Kenya. Data collection methods included a cross-sectional household survey (n = 594 households) and focus group discussions (n = 16).
Results
About half of the household survey respondents had at least one member in a health insurance scheme. There was high awareness of health insurance schemes but limited knowledge of how health insurance functions as well as understanding of key concepts related to income and risk cross-subsidization. Wide dissatisfaction with the public health system was reported. However, the government was the most preferred and trusted agency for collecting revenue as part of a NHIS. People preferred a comprehensive benefit package that included inpatient and outpatient care with no co-payments. Affordability of premiums, timing of contributions and the extent to which population needs would be met under a contributory scheme were major issues of concern for a NHIS design. Possibilities of funding health care through tax instead of NHIS were raised and preferred by the majority.
Conclusion
This study provides important information on community understanding and perceptions of health insurance. As Kenya continues to prepare for UHC, it is important that communities are educated and engaged to ensure that the NHIS is acceptable to the population it serves.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-474
PMCID: PMC3842821  PMID: 24219335
14.  National health financing policy in Eritrea: a survey of preliminary considerations 
Background
The 58th World Health Assembly and 56th WHO Regional Committee for Africa adopted resolutions urging Member States to ensure that health financing systems included a method for prepayment to foster financial risk sharing among the population and avoid catastrophic health-care expenditure. The Regional Committee asked countries to strengthen or develop comprehensive health financing policies. This paper presents the findings of a survey conducted among senior staff of selected Eritrean ministries and agencies to elicit views on some of the elements likely to be part of a national health financing policy.
Methods
This is a descriptive study. A questionnaire was prepared and sent to 19 senior staff (Directors) in the Ministry of Health, Labour Department, Civil Service Administration, Eritrean Confederation of Workers, National Insurance Corporation of Eritrea and Ministry of Local Government. The respondents were selected by the Ministry of Health as key informants.
Results
The key findings were as follows: the response rate was 84.2% (16/19); 37.5% (6/16) and 18.8% said that the vision of Eritrean National Health Financing Policy (NHFP) should include the phrases ‘equitable and accessible quality health services’ and ‘improve efficiency or reduce waste’ respectively; over 68% indicated that NHFP should include securing adequate funding, ensuring efficiency, ensuring equitable financial access, protection from financial catastrophe, and ensuring provider payment mechanisms create positive incentives to service providers; over 80% mentioned community participation, efficiency, transparency, country ownership, equity in access, and evidence-based decision making as core values of NHFP; over 62.5% confirmed that NHFP components should consist of stewardship (oversight), revenue collection, revenue pooling and risk management, resource allocation and purchasing of health services, health economics research, and development of human resources for health; over 68.8% indicated cost-sharing, taxation and social health insurance as preferred revenue collection mechanisms; and 68.75% indicated their preferred provider payment mechanism to be a global (lump sum) budget.
Conclusion
This study succeeded in gathering the preliminary views of senior staff of selected Eritrean ministries and agencies regarding the likely elements of the NHFP, i.e. the vision, objectives, components, provider payment mechanisms, and health financing agency and its governance. In addition to stakeholder surveys, it would be helpful to inform the development of the NHFP with other pieces of evidence, including cost-effectiveness analysis of health services and interventions, financial feasibility analysis of financing options, a survey of the political and professional acceptability of financing options, national health accounts, and equity analyses.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-12-16
PMCID: PMC3517356  PMID: 22929308
15.  The financial protection effect of Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme: evidence from a study in two rural districts 
Background
One of the key functions of health insurance is to provide financial protection against high costs of health care, yet evidence of such protection from developing countries has been inconsistent. The current study uses the case of Ghana to contribute to the evidence pool about insurance's financial protection effects. It evaluates the impact of the country's National Health Insurance Scheme on households' out-of-pocket spending and catastrophic health expenditure.
Methods
We use data from a household survey conducted in two rural districts, Nkoranza and Offinso, in 2007, two years after the initiation of the Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme. To address the skewness of health expenditure data, the absolute amount of out-of-pocket spending is estimated using a two-part model. We also conduct a probit estimate of the likelihood of catastrophic health expenditures, defined at different thresholds relative to household income and non-food consumption expenditure. The analysis controls for chronic and self-assessed health conditions, which typically drive adverse selection in insurance.
Results
At the time of the survey, insurance coverage was 35 percent. Although the benefit package of insurance is generous, insured people still incurred out-of-pocket payment for care from informal sources and for uncovered drugs and tests at health facilities. Nevertheless, they paid significantly less than the uninsured. Insurance has been shown to have a protective effect against the financial burden of health care, reducing significantly the likelihood of incurring catastrophic payment. The effect is particularly remarkable among the poorest quintile of the sample.
Conclusions
Findings from this study confirm the positive financial protection effect of health insurance in Ghana. The effect is stronger among the poor group than among general population. The results are encouraging for many low income countries who are considering a similar policy to expand social health insurance. Ghana's experience also shows that instituting insurance by itself is not adequate to remove fully the out-of-pocket payment for health. Further works are needed to address the supply side's incentives and quality of care, so that the insured can enjoy the full benefits of insurance.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-10-4
PMCID: PMC3031235  PMID: 21247436
16.  Acceptance of selective contracting: the role of trust in the health insurer 
Background
In a demand oriented health care system based on managed competition, health insurers have incentives to become prudent buyers of care on behalf of their enrolees. They are allowed to selectively contract care providers. This is supposed to stimulate competition between care providers and both increase the quality of care and contain costs in the health care system. However, health insurers are reluctant to implement selective contracting; they believe their enrolees will not accept this. One reason, insurers believe, is that enrolees do not trust their health insurer. However, this has never been studied. This paper aims to study the role played by enrolees’ trust in the health insurer on their acceptance of selective contracting.
Methods
An online survey was conducted among 4,422 people insured through a large Dutch health insurance company. Trust in the health insurer, trust in the purchasing strategy of the health insurer and acceptance of selective contracting were measured using multiple item scales. A regression model was constructed to analyse the results.
Results
Trust in the health insurer turned out to be an important prerequisite for the acceptance of selective contracting among their enrolees. The association of trust in the purchasing strategy of the health insurer with acceptance of selective contracting is stronger for older people than younger people. Furthermore, it was found that men and healthier people accepted selective contracting by their health insurer more readily. This was also true for younger people with a low level of trust in their health insurer.
Conclusion
This study provides insight into factors that influence people’s acceptance of selective contracting by their health insurer. This may help health insurers to implement selective contracting in a way their enrolees will accept and, thus, help systems of managed competition to develop.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-375
PMCID: PMC3850712  PMID: 24083663
Health insurer; Trust; Managed competition; Selective contracting
17.  Promoting universal financial protection: evidence from the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) in Gujarat, India 
Background
India’s health expenditure is met mostly by households through out-of-pocket (OOP) payments at the time of illness. To protect poor families, the Indian government launched a national health insurance scheme (RSBY). Those below the national poverty line (BPL) are eligible to join the RSBY. The premium is heavily subsidised by the government. The enrolled members receive a card and can avail of free hospitalisation care up to a maximum of US$ 600 per family per year. The hospitals are reimbursed by the insurance companies. The objective of our study was to analyse the extent to which RSBY contributes to universal health coverage by protecting families from making OOP payments.
Methods
A two-stage stratified sampling technique was used to identify eligible BPL families in Patan district of Gujarat, India. Initially, all 517 villages were listed and 78 were selected randomly. From each of these villages, 40 BPL households were randomly selected and a structured questionnaire was administered. Interviews and discussions were also conducted among key stakeholders.
Results
Our sample contained 2,920 households who had enrolled in the RSBY; most were from the poorer sections of society. The average hospital admission rate for the period 2010–2011 was 40/1,000 enrolled. Women, elderly and those belonging to the lowest caste had a higher hospitalisation rate. Forty four per cent of patients who had enrolled in RSBY and had used the RSBY card still faced OOP payments at the time of hospitalisation. The median OOP payment for the above patients was US$ 80 (interquartile range, $16–$200) and was similar in both government and private hospitals. Patients incurred OOP payments mainly because they were asked to purchase medicines and diagnostics, though the same were included in the benefit package.
Conclusions
While the RSBY has managed to include the poor under its umbrella, it has provided only partial financial coverage. Nearly 60% of insured and admitted patients made OOP payments. We plea for better monitoring of the scheme and speculate that it is possible to enhance effective financial coverage of the RSBY if the nodal agency at state level would strengthen its stewardship and oversight functions.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-11-29
PMCID: PMC3751687  PMID: 23961956
Financial protection; Health insurance; India; National health insurance scheme; Out-of-pocket payments; RSBY; Universal health coverage
18.  Managed care: Practice, pitfalls, and potential 
Health Care Financing Review  1992;1991(Suppl):27-34.
The results of coordinating and changing patterns of health care using managed care activities and organizations are reviewed in this article. Although utilization review and high-cost case management programs reduce the use of expensive services, incentives for providers of care, placing them at risk, are important for managing the intensity of health care. Managed care appears capable of reducing health care costs substantially.
However, this increased efficiency has not translated to lower insurance premiums or modulated total health care expenditures because either purchasers are not aware or are not concerned about securing care at the least cost. To correct these deficiencies and deliver the potential of managed care, the author suggests the need to separate insurance into its three components parts (financing, risk spreading, and program management) and developed policies for each.
PMCID: PMC4195142  PMID: 25372989
19.  Genetic information and insurance: some ethical issues. 
Life is risky, and insurance provides one of the best developed ways of controlling risks. By pooling, and so transferring risks, those who turn out to suffer antecedently uncertain harms can be assured in advance that they will be helped if those harms arise; they can then plan their lives and activities with confidence that they are less at the mercy of ill fortune. Both publicly organized and commercial insurance can organize the pooling of risk in ways that are beneficial for all concerned. They provide standard ways of securing fundamental ethical values such as solidarity and mutuality. Although policy holders do not know or contract with one another, each benefits from the contribution of others to a shared scheme for pooling and so controlling risk. Although there is a limit to the degree to which commercially-based insurance, where premiums depend on risk level, can go beyond mutuality towards solidarity, in practice it too often achieves a measure of solidarity by taking a broad brush approach to pooling risk. However, the ordinary practices of insurance, and in particular of commercial insurance, also raise ethical questions. These may be put in simple terms by contrasting the way in which an insurance market discriminates between different people, on the basis of characteristics that (supposedly) determine their risk level, and our frequent abhorrence of discrimination, in particular on the basis on religious, racial and gender characteristics. Are the discriminations on which insurance practice relies upon as standard acceptable or not? The increasing availability of genetic information, which testing (of individuals) and screening (of populations) may provide, could lend urgency to these questions. Genetic information may provide a way of obtaining more accurate assessment of individual risks to health and life. This information could be used to discriminate more finely between the risk levels of different individuals, and then to alter the availability and the costs of health, life and unemployment insurance to them. Since all of these forms of insurance bear very directly on the way most people live, it will matter to them how (if at all) insurers take account of genetic information. Will use of this information improve or damage the capacity of insurance to provide confidence in the face of uncertain harms, and help if they happen? Will it discriminate in acceptable or in unacceptable ways? Will it support or damage the sorts of mutuality and solidarity various sorts of insurance schemes have successfully institutionalized?
PMCID: PMC1691999  PMID: 9304675
20.  Barriers of access to care in a managed competition model: lessons from Colombia 
Background
The health sector reform in Colombia, initiated by Law 100 (1993) that introduced a managed competition model, is generally presented as a successful experience of improving access to care through a health insurance regulated market. The study's objective is to improve our understanding of the factors influencing access to the continuum of care in the Colombian managed competition model, from the social actors' point of view.
Methods
An exploratory, descriptive-interpretative qualitative study was carried out, based on case studies of four healthcare networks in rural and urban areas. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted to a three stage theoretical sample: I) cases, II) providers and III) informants: insured and uninsured users (35), health professionals (51), administrative personnel (20), and providers' (18) and insurers' (10) managers. Narrative content analysis was conducted; segmented by cases, informant's groups and themes.
Results
Access, particularly to secondary care, is perceived as complex due to four groups of obstacles with synergetic effects: segmented insurance design with insufficient services covered; insurers' managed care and purchasing mechanisms; providers' networks structural and organizational limitations; and, poor living conditions. Insurers' and providers' values based on economic profit permeate all factors. Variations became apparent between the two geographical areas and insurance schemes. In the urban areas barriers related to market functioning predominate, whereas in the rural areas structural deficiencies in health services are linked to insufficient public funding. While financial obstacles are dominant in the subsidized regime, in the contributory scheme supply shortage prevails, related to insufficient private investment.
Conclusions
The results show how in the Colombian healthcare system structural and organizational barriers to care access, that are common in developing countries, are widened by both the insurers' use of mechanisms that limit the utilization and the public healthcare providers' change of behavior in a competition environment. They provide evidence to question the promotion of the managed competition model in low and middle-income countries.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-297
PMCID: PMC2984497  PMID: 21034481
21.  Redistributional consequences of community rating. 
Health Services Research  1997;32(1):71-86.
OBJECTIVE: To predict the geographical effects of community rating of health insurance premiums on the amount individuals pay for insurance. DATA SOURCES: We estimate premiums and health expenditures for a 5 percent sample of Californians from the 1990 U.S. Census (the Public Use Microdata Sample) and use data from Blue Cross of California to adjust for regional price differences in services. STUDY DESIGN: We use an episodic health simulation model to estimate health expenditures for 975,074 Californians. Because the simulations do not reflect expenditure differences due to price variation in cost of services, we adjust these data for relative price differences by county. This leaves us with a sample of Californians for whom we have estimated health expenditures. We then compute average expenditures within areas of different sizes (all California, two regions, within counties) to estimate community-rated premiums. We then compare these premiums with actual expenditures on a county-by-county basis. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: With a single California-wide premium, rural residents pay premiums that exceed their use of care, while urban residents pay premiums that are less than their use of care. These transfers are substantial. Dividing California into regional risk pools at the county level still results in poorer communities providing substantial subsidies to their more wealthy counterparts. CONCLUSIONS: Mandated community rating of premiums in a heterogeneous state such as California results in large unintended transfers of wealth from poorer, rural communities to urban, wealthier communities. Allowing premiums to vary with the regional cost of medical care would eliminate some of the transfers without sacrificing the benefits of community rating. Subsidies to low-income families could also effectively mitigate this redistribution. UTILITY: This article points out some potentially regressive consequences of geographic community rating and suggests ways to mitigate them.
Images
PMCID: PMC1070170  PMID: 9108805
22.  Health services research in workers' compensation medical care: policy issues and research opportunities. 
Health Services Research  1999;34(1 Pt 2):427-437.
OBJECTIVE: To describe some of the unique aspects of medical care offered under workers' compensation insurance systems and discuss the major policy considerations relevant to health services researchers undertaking investigations in this area. BACKGROUND AND FINDINGS: State-based workers' compensation (WC) insurance systems requiring employers to pay for medical care and wage replacement for workplace injuries and illnesses were first developed between 1910 and 1920 in the United States. Employers are generally required to purchase state-regulated workers' compensation insurance that includes first-dollar payment for all medical and rehabilitative services and payment of lost wages to workers with work-related illness or injury. Injured workers have variable but usually limited latitude in choosing their health care provider. Employers and workers' compensation insurers have incentives for controlling both the cost of medical care and lost wages. CONCLUSION: The major policy issues in WC medical care--the effect of patient choice of provider and delivery system structure, the ensuring of high-quality care, the effect of integrating benefits, and investigation of the interrelationships between work, health, and productivity--can be informed by current studies in health services research and by targeted future studies of workers' compensation populations. These studies must consider the extent of patient choice of physician, the regulatory environment, the unique role of the workplace as a risk and modifying factor, and the complex interaction between health and disability insurance benefits.
PMCID: PMC1089012  PMID: 10199686
23.  Insurance Exchange Marketplace: Implications for Emergency Medicine Practice 
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires states to establish healthcare insurance exchanges by 2014 to facilitate the purchase of qualified health plans. States are required to establish exchanges for small businesses and individuals. A federally operated exchange will be established, and states failing to participate in any other exchanges will be mandated to join the federal exchange. Policymakers and health economists believe that exchanges will improve healthcare at lower cost by promoting competition among insurers and by reducing burdensome transaction costs. Consumers will no longer be isolated from monthly insurance premium costs. Exchanges will increase the number of patients insured with more cost-conscious managed care and high-deductible plans. These insurance plan models have historically undervalued emergency medical services, while also underinsuring patients and limiting their healthcare system access to the emergency department. This paradoxically increases demand for emergency services while decreasing supply. The continual devaluation of emergency medical services by insurance payers will result in inadequate distribution of resources to emergency care, resulting in further emergency department closures, increases in emergency department crowding, and the demise of acute care services provided to families and communities.
doi:10.5811/westjem.2011.8.6662
PMCID: PMC3415805  PMID: 22900107
24.  Health insurance system and payments provided to patients for the management of severe acute pancreatitis in Japan 
The health insurance system in Japan is based upon the Universal Medical Care Insurance System, which gives all citizens the right to join an insurance scheme of their own choice, as guaranteed by the provisions of Article 25 of the Constitution of Japan, which states: “All people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.” The health care system in Japan includes national medical insurance, nursing care for the elderly, and government payments for the treatment of intractable diseases. Medical insurance provisions are handled by Employee’s Health Insurance (Social Insurance), which mainly covers employees of private companies and their families, and by National Health Insurance, which provides for the needs of self-employed people. Both schemes have their own medical care service programs for retired persons and their families. The health care system for the elderly covers people 75 years of age and over and bedridden people 65 years of age and over. There is also a system under which the government pays all or part of medical expenses, and/or pays medical expenses not covered by insurance. This is referred to collectively as the “medical expenses payment system” and includes the provision of medical assistance for specified intractable diseases. Because severe acute pancreatitis has a high mortality rate, it is specified as an intractable disease. In order to lower the mortality rate of various diseases, including severe acute pancreatitis, the specification system has been adopted by the government. The cost of treatment for severe acute pancreatitis is paid in full by the government from the date the application is made for a certificate verifying that the patient has an intractable disease.
doi:10.1007/s00534-005-1046-4
PMCID: PMC2779366  PMID: 16463206
Medical care system; Acute pancreatitis; Japan’s health insurance system; Government payment system
25.  The impact of medical insurance policies on the hospitalization services utilization of people with schizophrenia: A case study in Changsha, China 
Objective: To evaluate the impact of two medical insurers’ policies on the hospitalization of people with schizophrenia and the economic burden they faced during a period of rapid health services reform in China.
Methodology: A comparative analysis was made of Urban Employee-Basic Medical Insurance (UE-BMI) and Urban Residents-Basic Medical Insurance (UR-BMI) policies on the medical management of schizophrenics, and was compared with hospitalization expenses, insurer reimbursement data and other information collected from the HMO (health maintenance organization) and social insurance agencies on the care of people with schizophrenia in Changsha in 2010. In-depth interviews were also conducted with relevant managers.
Results: Compared with inpatients covered by UR-BMI, the inpatients of UE-BMI were admitted to higher level medical institutions and were prescribed expensive second generation antipsychotics (SGA) medicines. Nevertheless, the hospitalization service utilization and cost of inpatients’ hospitalization under UE-BMI were far less than that of inpatients under UR-BMI.
Conclusions: The insurance level difference between two medical insurance schemes influences the treatment regimens and benefits received by patients. Furthermore, the integration of schizophrenia management into the outpatient services pooling fund for special diseases(OS-PFSD) can appropriately reduce hospitalization utilization, which, together with the payment way reform and the prescription of reasonable medications, can significantly reduce the overall hospitalization cost for patients.
PMCID: PMC3809281  PMID: 24353630
Medical insurance policy; Schizophrenia; Hospitalization service utilization; Impact

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