25% of US healthcare spending is waste, study finds

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/25-of-us-healthcare-spending-is-waste-study-finds.html?oly_enc_id=2893H2397267F7G

Image result for Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Publishes Humana Study on Health Care Spending

 

About 25 percent of U.S. healthcare spending can be classified as waste, according to a new study published in JAMA Oct. 7. 

For the study, researchers from Humana and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine analyzed 54 peer-reviewed studies, government reports and other medical literature to estimate the levels of waste in the U.S. healthcare system.

Researchers divided waste into six previously developed categories including: failure of care delivery; failure of care coordination; overtreatment or low-value care; pricing failure; fraud and waste; and administrative complexity. 

Administrative complexity accounted for the most waste with $265.6 billion annually, followed by pricing failure or inefficiencies, which accounted for up to $240.6 billion in waste per year.

Approximately $300 billion in waste accrued from failure of care delivery, failure of care coordination and overtreatment. The study estimated that about half of this waste could be avoided.

Overall, the researchers found that the cost of waste in the U.S. healthcare system ranges from $760 billion to $935 billion annually.

Of the $760 billion to $935 billion of waste, researchers estimated that using interventions found to reduce waste could cut between $191 billion and $282.1 billion in healthcare spending.

Access the full report here

 

 

 

Top 5 Differences Between NFPs and For-Profit Hospitals

https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/finance/top-5-differences-between-nfps-and-profit-hospitals

Image result for Non-Profit and For-Profit Hospitals

Although nonprofit and for-profit hospitals are fundamentally similar, there are significant cultural and operational differences, such as strategic approaches to scale and operational discipline.

All hospitals serve patients, employ physicians and nurses, and operate in tightly regulated frameworks for clinical services. For-profit hospitals add a unique element to the mix: generating return for investors.

This additional ingredient gives the organizational culture at for-profits a subtly but significantly different flavor than the atmosphere at their nonprofit counterparts, says Yvette Doran, chief operating officer at Saint Thomas Medical Partners in Nashville, TN.

“When I think of the differences, culture is at the top of my list. The culture at for-profits is business-driven. The culture at nonprofits is service-driven,” she says.

Doran says the differences between for-profits and nonprofits reflect cultural nuances rather than cultural divides. “Good hospitals need both. Without the business aspects on one hand, and the service aspects on the other, you can’t function well.”

There are five primary differences between for-profit and nonprofit hospitals.

1. Tax Status

The most obvious difference between nonprofit and for-profit hospitals is tax status, and it has a major impact financially on hospitals and the communities they serve.

Hospital payment of local and state taxes is a significant benefit for municipal and state governments, says Gary D. Willis, CPA, a former for-profit health system CFO who currently serves as CFO at Amedisys Inc., a home health, hospice, and personal care company in Baton Rouge, LA. The taxes that for-profit hospitals pay support “local schools, development of roads, recruitment of business and industry, and other needed services,” he says.

The financial burden of paying taxes influences corporate culture—emphasizing cost consciousness and operational discipline, says Andrew Slusser, senior vice president at Brentwood, TN-based RCCH Healthcare Partners.

“For-profit hospitals generally have to be more cost-efficient because of the financial hurdles they have to clear: sales taxes, property taxes, all the taxes nonprofits don’t have to worry about,” he says.

“One of the initiatives we’ve had success with—in both new and existing hospitals—is to conduct an Operations Assessment Team survey. It’s in essence a deep dive into all operational costs to see where efficiencies may have been missed before. We often discover we’re able to eliminate duplicative costs, stop doing work that’s no longer adding value, or in some cases actually do more with less,” Slusser says.

2. Operational Discipline

With positive financial performance among the primary goals of shareholders and the top executive leadership, operational discipline is one of the distinguishing characteristics of for-profit hospitals, says Neville Zar, senior vice president of revenue operations at Boston-based Steward Health Care System, a for-profit that includes 3,500 physicians and 18 hospital campuses in four states.

At Steward, we believe we’ve done a good job establishing operational discipline. It means accountability. It means predictability. It means responsibility. It’s like hygiene. You wake up, brush your teeth, and this is part of what you do every day.”

A revenue-cycle dashboard report is circulated at Steward every Monday morning at 7 a.m., including point-of-service cash collections, patient coverage eligibility for government programs such as Medicaid, and productivity metrics, he says. “There’s predictability with that.”

A high level of accountability fuels operational discipline at Steward and other for-profits, Zar says.

There is no ignoring the financial numbers at Steward, which installed wide-screen TVs in most business offices four years ago to post financial performance information in real-time. “There are updates every 15 minutes. You can’t hide in your cube,” he says. “There was a 15% to 20% improvement in efficiency after those TVs went up.”

3. Financial Pressure

Accountability for financial performance flows from the top of for-profit health systems and hospitals, says Dick Escue, senior vice president and chief information officer at the Hawaii Medical Service Association in Honolulu.

Escue worked for many years at a rehabilitation services organization that for-profit Kindred Healthcare of Louisville, Kentucky, acquired in 2011. “We were a publicly traded company. At a high level, quarterly, our CEO and CFO were going to New York to report to analysts. You never want to go there and disappoint. … You’re not going to keep your job as the CEO or CFO of a publicly traded company if you produce results that disappoint.”

Finance team members at for-profits must be willing to push themselves to meet performance goals, Zar says.

“Steward is a very driven organization. It’s not 9-to-5 hours. Everybody in healthcare works hard, but we work really hard. We’re driven by each quarter, by each month. People will work the weekend at the end of the month or the end of the quarter to put in the extra hours to make sure we meet our targets. There’s a lot of focus on the financial results, from the senior executives to the worker bees. We’re not ashamed of it.”

“Cash blitzes” are one method Steward’s revenue cycle team uses to boost revenue when financial performance slips, he says. Based on information gathered during team meetings at the hospital level, the revenue cycle staff focuses a cash blitz on efforts that have a high likelihood of generating cash collections, including tackling high-balance accounts and addressing payment delays linked to claims processing such as clinical documentation queries from payers.

For-profit hospitals routinely utilize monetary incentives in the compensation packages of the C-Suite leadership, says Brian B. Sanderson, managing principal of healthcare services at Oak Brook, IL–based Crowe Horwath LLP.

“The compensation structures in the for-profits tend to be much more incentive-based than compensation at not-for-profits,” he says. “Senior executive compensation is tied to similar elements as found in other for-profit environments, including stock price and margin on operations.”

In contrast to offering generous incentives that reward robust financial performance, for-profits do not hesitate to cut costs in lean times, Escue says.

“The rigor around spending, whether it’s capital spending, operating spending, or payroll, is more intense at for-profits. The things that got cut when I worked in the back office of a for-profit were overhead. There was constant pressure to reduce overhead,” he says. “Contractors and consultants are let go, at least temporarily. Hiring is frozen, with budgeted openings going unfilled. Any other budgeted, but not committed, spending is frozen.”

4. Scale

The for-profit hospital sector is highly concentrated.

There are 4,862 community hospitals in the country, according to the American Hospital Association. Nongovernmental not-for-profit hospitals account for the largest number of facilities at 2,845. There are 1,034 for-profit hospitals, and 983 state and local government hospitals.

In 2016, the country’s for-profit hospital trade association, the Washington, DC–based Federation of American Hospitals, represented a dozen health systems that owned about 635 hospitals. Four of the FAH health systems accounted for about 520 hospitals: Franklin, TN-based Community Hospital Systems (CHS); Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America; Brentwood, TN–based LifePoint Health; and Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corporation.

Scale generates several operational benefits at for-profit hospitals.

“Scale is critically important,” says Julie Soekoro, CFO at Grandview Medical Center, a CHS-owned, 372-bed hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. “What we benefit from at Grandview is access to resources and expertise. I really don’t use consultants at Grandview because we have corporate expertise for challenges like ICD-10 coding. That is a tremendous benefit.”

Grandview also benefits from the best practices that have been shared and standardized across the 146 CHS hospitals. “Best practices can have a direct impact on value,” Soekoro says. “The infrastructure is there. For-profits are well-positioned for the consolidated healthcare market of the future… You can add a lot of individual hospitals without having to add expertise at the corporate office.”

The High Reliability and Safety program at CHS is an example of how standardizing best practices across the health system’s hospitals has generated significant performance gains, she says.

“A few years ago, CHS embarked on a journey to institute a culture of high reliability at the hospitals. The hospitals and affiliated organizations have worked to establish safety as a ‘core value.’ At Grandview, we have hard-wired a number of initiatives, including daily safety huddles and multiple evidence-based, best-practice error prevention methods.”

Scale also plays a crucial role in one of the most significant advantages of for-profit hospitals relative to their nonprofit counterparts: access to capital.

Ready access to capital gives for-profits the ability to move faster than their nonprofit counterparts, Sanderson says. “They’re finding that their access to capital is a linchpin for them. … When a for-profit has better access to capital, it can make decisions rapidly and make investments rapidly. Many not-for-profits don’t have that luxury.”

5. Competitive Edge

There are valuable lessons for nonprofits to draw from the for-profit business model as the healthcare industry shifts from volume to value.

When healthcare providers negotiate managed care contracts, for-profits have a bargaining advantage over nonprofits, Doran says. “In managed care contracts, for profits look for leverage and nonprofits look for partnership opportunities. The appetite for aggressive negotiations is much more palatable among for-profits.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health care is getting more and more expensive, and low-wage workers are bearing more of the cost

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/9/30/20891305/health-care-employer-sponsored-premiums-cost-voxcare

Is the rapidly rising cost of employer-sponsored health insurance sustainable?

Half of all Americans get their health insurance through work. Trouble is, doing so is becoming less and less affordable — especially for already low-wage workers.

In 2019, the Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey — an annual account of roughly 2,000 small and large businesses’ employer-sponsored insurance — found the average annual premium to cover a family through work was a whopping $20,576, and $7,188 for an individual. Employers cover most of that, but families still contributed an average of $6,015 in premiums, and single Americans covered about $1,242 of the annual cost.

The kicker? Over the past 10 years, the cost of the portion of employer-sponsored health insurance premiums that falls on American families has increased by 71 percent. Overall, premiums have gone up 54 percent since 2009. That’s faster than the rate of inflation and faster than the average wage growth.

Nearly half of all Americans get their health insurance through work, a system that covers roughly 153 million people. And for lower-wage workers it’s a system that is increasingly unaffordable.

Workers at companies with a significant number of low-wage employees (which the Kaiser Family survey quantifies as a company in which at least 35 percent of employees are making an annual salary of $25,000 or less) have lower premiums than those who work at companies with fewer low-wage workers, probably because their plans cover less. But at the same time, workers at firms with a significant number of low-wage employees are faced with high-deductible plans, and also pay a larger share of the premium cost than workers at companies with fewer lower-wage employees.

According to the survey, workers at lower-wage companies pay an average of $7,000 a year family plan — $1,000 more than employees at companies with higher salaried workers.

“When workers making $25,000 a year have to shell out $7,000 a year just for their share of family premiums,” Drew Altman, the president of Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a statement, that’s where cost becomes prohibitive. Such employees are putting almost 30 percent of their salaries toward premiums.

The takeaway is clear. Health care is getting more and more expensive, and families and employers are having to bear more of the cost, which research has shown not only has an effect on how much workers are actually getting paid, but how many workers are hired.

As Sarah Kliff reported for Vox, there are a lot of studies spanning decades that show how a rapid rise in health insurance premiums has unfavorable outcomes for workers. This is in large part because employers think of compensation in totality; they lump together an employee’s salary, as well as their benefits as one total cost. So if covering a worker’s health insurance gets more and more expensive, employers see less room to give the worker a raise.

For example, a 2006 study from Katherine Baicker and Amitabh Chandra, both with the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that an overall 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums reduced wages by 2.3 percent and actually reduced the probability of becoming employed by 1.2 percent.

Results such as these, and the high premiums low-wage workers must pay, led the Kaiser survey’s authors to explicitly question the tenability of employer-sponsored insurance: “the national debate about expanding Medicare or creating public program options provides an opportunity to step back and evaluate how well employer­-based coverage is doing in achieving national goals relating to costs and affordability,” the report reads.

The United States is unique in its reliance on employers to provide health insurance. And, as Democratic candidates for president continue to go in circles debating health care, employer-sponsored insurance is often the biggest sticking point.

Several candidates, like Sen. Bernie Sanders, who popularized a plan for Medicare-for-all, a single government-run program, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who supports Sanders’s plan, have called for getting rid of the employer-based system, and private insurance, all together.

But their critics always bring up the same talking point: that the people who like their health insurance plans through work, should be able to keep it. The Kaiser survey raises questions as to how affordable those plans really are, and, as Democrats debate ideas like Medicare-for-all, how sustainable the current trajectory is.

 

 

 

Time To Talk About Healthcare Total Cost Of Ownership

https://www.forbes.com/sites/eriksherman/2019/09/29/time-to-healthcare-total-cost-ownership/#31eefe931a43

On the Money Insurance Enrollment Finding Help

The debate over healthcare and how it should proceed has apparently come down to either keeping what we’ve got, going back to what we had, or Medicare for All. At least, that’s how things are being framed for a coming presidential election. At stake is the cost and delivery of 17.9% of the country’s entire gross domestic product—$3.5 trillion in 2017 and heading north from there.

There have been previous attempts, of course, to change healthcare, whether the addition of Medicare and Medicaid under Lyndon Johnson, Bill and Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful attempt to reshape the healthcare system, the addition of prescription drug coverage to Medicare signed by George W. Bush, or the Affordable Care Act under Barack Obama.

As a country, we periodically seek a better approach to healthcare—this way, that way, but not straying far from where we were. Understandable, to a (small, these days) degree. There is no guarantee that a quick change won’t cause more problems than it solves. Some people like their coverage, it’s true. But a great many do not.

Importantly, the day is coming (if it’s not right here) that most people can’t afford reasonable care. Average annual premiums for employer-sponsored healthcare for a family have reached $20,576, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Of that, $6,015 are paid by the employee and $14,561 by the employer.

The problem of cost is immense, especially when overall healthcare in the U.S. ranks as mediocre at best (which doesn’t mean good care isn’t available, but more likely is an indication of how relatively few people obtain it).

But many who have a vested interest in the system as it exists, whether for political or financial gain, loudly exclaim that any sort of solution that involves government as an insurer—like Medicare, which many participants prize given much lower rates than typical market-based programs—becomes untenable. “Can you afford how much taxes will go up?” they say.

Some voices have pushed back and we need more, because the question is a loaded one. Government-sponsored insurance would reduce the need for and expense of private insurance.

At issue is an analytic approach often used in business: the total cost of ownership. When taking up a new technology or operational strategy, a smart company analyzes the full costs. Not just the obvious price tag, but all that accompanying costs. It’s the corporate equivalent of an informed car buyer, who, beyond sticker price, is interested in the likely costs of fuel and maintenance, how well the vehicle maintains price in the used or trade-in markets, reliability, and other factors that represent accompanying expenses.

Taxes under a Medicare for All approach would go up. But, at the same time, commercial premiums come down (even if, as with Medicare, many people buy supplemental insurance to expand coverage). There may lower out-of-pocket costs, as is true in many countries with some sort of national coverage.

There is also an argument for resulting higher worker pay. Companies no longer be paying that $14,561 could shift that savings, or at least some, into additional wages or salary. Not increasing pay would effectively be a tax cut, as benefits are part of compensation.

The thought behind healthcare reform like Medicare for All is that it should be possible for the U.S. to do better. To gain improved coverage across the board at lower per-capita prices, as the rest of the developed world has managed to do for decades. People with better care can live better lives, which—and I take this as an article of faith—eventually comes back to communities and the country.

Consideration of changes requires a full understanding of the costs and financial gains throughout the system. Taxes go up, premiums go down, maybe pay increases (should increase), and a sudden illness doesn’t cause automatic financial stress for an individual or a family. Whenever someone makes sweeping claims like “taxes will go up” without context, others should step up and note that it’s like complaining about investing in mass transit without acknowledging that using an automobile to make the same commute will be much more expensive and that one may mean you don’t need the other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hospitals of All Sizes Experience Profitability Declines in August

https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/finance/hospitals-all-sizes-experience-profitability-declines-august?spMailingID=16366319&spUserID=MTg2ODM1MDE3NTU1S0&spJobID=1740190718&spReportId=MTc0MDE5MDcxOAS2

Both expense and volume performance were mixed for the month, according to Kaufman Hall.

For only the second time this year, hospitals of all sizes experienced monthly profitability declines, primarily due to “softening volumes,” according to a Kaufman Hall report released Tuesday.

In the month of August, both overall hospital operating EBITDA margins and operating margins fell by 9.4% and 11.4% year-over-year, respectively.

Kaufman Hall compared the August stagnation to the challenges hospitals faced in June, specifically referencing the ineffective approaches to adjust expenses when patient volumes sputter.

Delving into geographic differences, Midwest hospitals continue to show more resiliency than other areas, according to the report.

Hospitals in the northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions witnessed the largest declines in August, a 15.8% year-over-year drop in operating EBITDA margin, while the Great Plains posted profitability of 16.7% above budget.

Despite a relatively promising year thus far where hospitals rebounded from market volatility in 2018, provider organizations hit the financial skids in August due to inconsistent volume metrics.

Most volume metrics took a hit, with discharges, adjusted discharges, emergency department visits, and operating room minutes falling by more than 1.2% each.

Meanwhile, adjusted patient days and average length of stay increased by more than 1.6% as well.

Additionally, expense metrics were mixed for most hospitals, as total expenses per adjusted discharge rose 4% year-over-year, while labor expenses for the same metric increased 2.4%.

Purchased service expenses per adjusted discharge rose 6.1% while non-labor expenses and supply expenses for the same metric rose more than 3.5%.

On the non-operating side, the U.S. labor market continued its strong performance in the face of global headwinds and fears about a potential recession in the coming months.

Kaufman Hall described August as “weak month” for investment assets, noting that investment portfolio returns for hospitals declined 0.46%, the first monthly decline since May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lowering Out-of-Pocket Health Costs Isn’t Easy. States Have Tried

https://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/gov-trump-prescription-drug-prices-states-canada-import.html?utm_term=Lowering%20Out-of-Pocket%20Health%20Costs%20Isn%27t%20Easy.%20States%20Have%20Tried.&utm_campaign=Lowering%20Out-of-Pocket%20Health%20Costs%20Isn%27t%20Easy.%20States%20Have%20Tried.%20Now%20Congress%20Is%20Giving%20It%20a%20Shot.&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy shows a chart during a congressional hearing.

Congress has promised to tackle high consumer health-care costs this year. It’s one of the few issues where lawmakers on both sides of the aisle find common ground.

The Lower Health Care Costs Act, introduced in June, is an almost 200-page piece of legislation that seeks to prevent surprise medical bills, lower prescription drug prices and force hospitals to be more transparent about what they bill insurance companies.

But there are already signs of potential failure.

Despite early momentum, Congressional leaders postponed a vote on the measure until after August recess. The pharmaceutical industry as well as hospital and provider groups have started to lobby against the legislation, meeting with President Trump in July to make their case.

Although the Affordable Care Act led to more people having health insurance, many Americans still struggle with out-of-pocket costs, especially ones they weren’t expecting. Meanwhile, health care is taking up an ever-growing size of state budgets. Governors and lawmakers try to tackle this issue almost every legislative session, but few have succeeded in a meaningful way.

“It’s usually a third of state budgets. States have every reason to try and control health-care costs. And yet, everybody struggles to,” says Josh Shaferstein, vice dean of Johns Hopkins University’s Office of Public Health Practice and Training, and a former health secretary for the state of Maryland.

Battling the Health-Care Industry

The first and usually biggest hurdle is private interest groups who see reforms as a threat to their livelihood.

“There are a lot of stakeholders that have vested interest and lobbyists on the ground that will fight tooth and nail, whether it’s doctors and nurses groups or insurance companies. They are perhaps moreso willing to fight at the state level,” says Sabrina Corlette, research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.

She points to a bill introduced in Colorado this year that would have capped payments to hospitals in order to lower premiums. After pushback from hospital groups, lawmakers amended the legislation — which was signed into law — so that hospitals will be paid the same but will have to pay back a portion of their revenue to help lower premiums. 

In Washington state, which passed a first-in-the-nation “public option” bill this year, lawmakers rewrote the original legislation after doctor and hospital groups fought a provision that would have set the same cap on provider payments as Medicare. The final legislation reflected a compromise for insurers to pay providers 160 percent of Medicare rates.

At least eight other states discussed or introduced public option bills this year, but they failed to gain traction.

In Delaware — a state that ranks third in health-care spending but 31st in health outcomes — Gov. Jay Carney signed an executive order in November that outlines eight goals the state will work toward to curb the growth in health spending. But Kara Odom Walker, the state’s health secretary, concedes that they weren’t able to convince stakeholders to enact new penalties or regulations.

“Being a small state makes it a lot harder to do things that might be unpopular. Any conversation that includes words like ‘penalty’ or ‘payment cap’ is like a bomb going off,” she says.

The health-care industry is one of the biggest in the country. That gives it a lot of leverage.

“The health systems are often the largest employers in town. The governor says they want to slow health-care spending growth, and the hospital group will say, ‘that means losing jobs,’” says Robert Mechanic, executive director of the Health Industry Forum.

But as Congress tries to lower out-of-pocket costs, they have an asset that states don’t: better data. Corlette says states often lack impartial numbers on potential policies, hurting their ability to assess and defend legislation.

“It’s very hard for your average state legislator to pierce the veil,” Corlette says. “There’s an imbalance of info for legislators to really tackle the problem. They don’t have a Congressional Budget Office.”

One Person’s Savings Are Another’s Costs

Many compare efforts to control health-care costs to a game of whack-a-mole. A state might successfully regulate spending in one area only to see costs skyrocket in another.

“You might be able to cut rates in Medicaid, but then rates will pop up in private insurance. The standard toolkit for states is fraught with political danger,” says Shaferstein.

“Health care is so complex, and there are so many different players. It’s really hard to get your arm around the whole bundle,” says Mechanic.

For instance, Medicare lowered the limit for how long older patients can stay in hospitals. But there’s some evidence that the Medicare savings became extra costs for nursing homes because hospitals started providing fewer services for elderly patients altogether.

State Legislation

When it comes to controlling drug prices, states haven’t made much progress. They have made more headway regulating surprise medical bills.

Half the states have passed surprise billing laws. Only nine of them, though, included “comprehensive protections” that apply to all insurance plans, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

While states have struggled to actually lower drug prices, like Congress plans to do, they have passed laws to make them more transparent and to clamp down on pharmacy benefit managers — middlemen who negotiate drug benefits for plans.

Five states have enacted laws that require drug companies to notify them if they will significantly raise the price of a drug, and at least a dozen have restricted the power that a pharmacy benefit manager can have, like requiring them to register with the state.

Solutions That Have Worked

There are some success stories and lessons learned that Congress could use to lower health-care spending in general.

“States should be thinking of more global solutions because you kind of have to go big. Oftentimes people are looking to save $1 to $2 million a year, but that’s not going to make much of a difference,” says Shafterstein.

Only a couple of states have “gone big” in this sense.

Massachusetts passed what became the framework for the federal Affordable Care Act in 2006, known as “RomneyCare,” which requires residents to have health insurance. Health-care spending has since slowed in recent years. Mechanic credits that to the law’s requirements for private health entities to publicly justify price hikes and high spending.

In Maryland, it has taken decades to get health-care spending under control. The state has had an all-payer system for hospitals since the 1970s, meaning they get a fixed sum every month rather than bill insurers for every claim. While that system — which is only used by one other state, Vermont — curbed hospital spending per patient, hospital spending overall grew at a slightly higher rate than the national average.

So in 2014, Maryland forced hospitals to limit their spending to 0.5 percent less than the national growth rate. It has largely been deemed a success, with a report commissioned by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finding that “Maryland hospitals were able to operate within their global budgets without adverse effects on their financial status.”

On a less global scale, states have been able to drive down premiums by implementing reinsurance programs, meaning the government pays for the most expensive patients, taking that bill off insurance companies’ plate.

But reinsurance is like slapping a band-aid on a much larger wound.

“Recent state efforts on reinsurance have worked, but they aren’t really getting at the overall cost of coverage,” says Kevin Lucia, research professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.