Archive for December, 2004

Speaking of health care costs…

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

The cost of healthcare is on the minds of many today, as the U.S. government begins encouraging employers (and sole entrepreneurs) to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) as a means to cutting costs. The plans offer a tax-free savings account in which you deposit up to the amount of the deductible in your high-deductible health plan and can use it to pay your health bills (incurred under your high-deductible health plan).

Read more here about the newest twist that Medical Mutual is pushing–HSA-Plus plans that let you lower your premiums by upping your deductible–to as high as $5000.

“Given the amazing discoveries that science is making every day that lead to longer lives that need more medicines, more treatments, etc., what possible way is there for the cost of health care to go down?” I posed that question to the head of Cleveland’s University Hospital systems during a recent panel discussion on that topic. His answer: The cost of healthcare will go down when people have to start paying for it themselves.

Good point. And that’s exactly where the HSA concept is taking us in the U.S. In countries that have nationalized medicine, people don’t pay–but they run into the kind of freaky situation in this BBC NEWS report. A woman who suddently starts having epileptic seizures–a certain sign that you should get medical help immediately–calls for an appointment and is told she faces 56-week wait

The fact is, it looks like people are going to be paying for their own healthcare more and more, no matter what system is in effect. Sometimes they’ll pay with money and sometimes with their health–or their lives.

This is how it used to be, folks. But now that we have all these miraculous cures, maybe there’ll be nobody who’ll take us up on ‘em. Or maybe…we’ll just have to start taking alternative medicine a lot more seriously.

SMB owners–review your healthcare options

Tuesday, December 7th, 2004

Yes, indeed, I have the paperwork right here. That’s what I responded to a query today from a colleague who inquired about the local Chamber of Commerce’s (the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s COSE) plans to implement an advanced version of the Health Savings Account (HSA).

“Let’s see…, ” an employee writes.

“I have a choice now of upping my monthly payment by $50 (because of a pre-existing condition it’s already at an amazing high of $750 a month–that’s for a single person, not a family) and having my deductible go up by ONLY $500 (already at $2000). Okay, that’s $800 a month and $2500 deductible every year.

“I’m laughing because I was at the doctor today for something and the assistant said to me, ‘I’m jealous of your good coverage.’ I coughed a little and said, ‘You are?’ But then I told her what I was paying, and she almost fainted… Needless to say, she wasn’t jealous anymore.

“After that it looks more interesting. Your premiums can go down. Here’s the ratio:

“Current monthly $750, deductible $2000. Options now are:
Monthly up $50, deductible up $500… (Sounds crazy, eh?) OR
Monthly down by about $25, deductible up by $1000… or
Monthly down by about $140, deductible up by $2000… or
Monthly down by about $250, deductible up by $3000…

I actually like this idea for this reason. Once you reach you deductible under these high-deductible plans, you tend to want to fit in every medical visit or test or whatever you can think before the next year begins so that it’s all paid for. This is a STUPID way to do things because it encourages people to do things thet might not even need. It’s a natural human phenomenon to want to get every penny you can out of somebody who’s been taking your money all year.

SO, if we raise the deductible but lower the premiums, we encourage people to be more prudent about what tests, etc. they ask for (even if it’s only to wait until next year to get it done–which is okay if it’s not critical stuff).

Would most people choose to lower their monthly premiums by almost $300 and have a higher deductible. I think so.”

Given the alternatives, it seems smart for them to have come up with this. Never mind the outrageous numbers (which, by the way, grow decidedly worse as you age), at least people will have insurance. Please feel free to respond if you see downsides other than the outrageous cost.

P.S. Of course, we’re talking here about the real world–not the world we live in currently in the U.S. where the medical community has to keep adding more expensive tests to diagnostic and treatment regimens because they’re so afraid of being sued.

Cleveland entrepreneurs take to the airwaves

Monday, December 6th, 2004

Tune your radio to WERE 1300 AM on this Tuesday, December 7th from 8-9 AM. e-Ventus Corporation’s Managing Partner, Joseph LaMantia will join Don Larson & Jeff Chaney on the hot new show “Capitalist Cleveland.”

Mr. LaMantia is the latest in a series of guests lined up for this new entrepreneurial adventure to pepper Cleveland airwaves with pithy pointers sure to pique your interest in at least 3 things:

1. How might you use the services of the guest speaker’s company?
2. Who’s that fiery Larson interviewer guy, and where can you meet him?
2. What the heck is Northcoast Entrepreneurs and who thought up the name Gorilla Group?

e-Ventus makes a couple of different products–the website is full of information. “Mx SC” is a portal that lets suppliers see critical demand, inventory and performance information that helps them do their jobs better. The site describes it as a “B2B lean supply solution that energizes the supply chain through web technology. MxSC has been fully integrated with the Glovia® system.”

Check out e-Ventus, and for heaven’s sake, turn your radio on tomorrow morning. These guys are bursting with entrepreneurial passion.