Health insurance in developing countries: lessons from experience. (1/255)

Many developing countries are currently considering the possibility of introducing compulsory health insurance schemes. One reason is to attract more resources to the health sector. If those who, together with their employers, can pay for their health services and are made to do so by insurance, the limited tax funds can be concentrated on providing services for fewer people and thus improve coverage and raise standards. A second reason is dissatisfaction with existing services in which staff motivation is poor, resources are not used to best advantage and patients are not treated with sufficient courtesy and respect. This article describes the historical experience of the developed countries in introducing and steadily expanding the coverage of health insurance, sets out the consensus which has developed about health insurance (at least in Western European countries) and describes the different forms which health insurance can take. The aim is to bring out the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches from this experience, to set out the options for developing countries and to give warnings about the dangers of some approaches.  (+info)

Managing the health care market in developing countries: prospects and problems. (2/255)

There is increasing interest in the prospects for managed market reforms in developing countries, stimulated by current reforms and policy debates in developed countries, and by perceptions of widespread public sector inefficiency in many countries. This review examines the prospects for such reforms in a developing country context, primarily by drawing on the arguments and evidence emerging from developed countries, with a specific focus on the provision of hospital services. The paper begins with a discussion of the current policy context of these reforms, and their main features. It argues that while current and proposed reforms vary in detail, most have in common the introduction of competition in the provision of health care, with the retention of a public monopoly of financing, and that this structure emerges from the dual goals of addressing current public sector inefficiencies while retaining the known equity and efficiency advantages of public health systems. The paper then explores the theoretical arguments and empirical evidence for and against these reforms, and examines their relevance for developing countries. Managed markets are argued to enhance both efficiency and equity. These arguments are analysed in terms of three distinct claims made by their proponents: that managed markets will promote increased provider competition, and hence, provider efficiency; that contractual relationships are more efficient than direct management; and that the benefits of managed markets will outweigh their costs. The analysis suggests that on all three issues, the theoretical arguments and empirical evidence remain ambiguous, and that this ambiguity is attributable in part to poor understanding of the behaviour of health sector agents within the market, and to the limited experience with these reforms. In the context of developing countries, the paper argues that most of the conditions required for successful implementation of these reforms are absent in all but a few, richer developing countries, and that the costs of these reforms, particularly in equity terms, are likely to pose substantial problems. Extensive managed market reforms are therefore unlikely to succeed, although limited introduction of particular elements of these reforms may be more successful. Developed country experience is useful in defining the conditions under which such limited reforms may succeed. There is an urgent need to evaluate the existing experience of different forms of contracting in developing countries, as well as to interpret emerging evidence from developed country reforms in the light of conditions in developing countries.  (+info)

How many beds should a hospital department serve? (3/255)

Departmental cost functions are constructed for selected hospital departments, using total number of beds in the hospital served as a proxy output measure. Calculation of maxima or minima for the resulting cost functions reveals that, on average, different departments have extremes in their cost functions of different levels of output. A relative cost index is constructed, using parameters of the departmental cost functions, and departmental costs are compared across regions. The significance of departmental differences in optimum output is discussed with regard to sharing of services and modified system design.  (+info)

A conflict of strategies: Medicaid managed care and Medicaid maximization. (4/255)

OBJECTIVE: To examine the influence of state strategies aimed at increasing federal Medicaid matching dollars on the design of states' Medicaid managed care programs. STUDY DESIGN: Data obtained from the 1996-1997 case studies of 13 states to examine how states have adapted the design of their Medicaid managed care programs in part because of maximization strategies, to accommodate the many roles and responsibilities that Medicaid has assumed over the years. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Our study showed that as states made the shift to managed care, some found that the responsibilities undertaken in part through maximization strategies proved to be in conflict with their Medicaid managed care initiatives. Among other things, the study revealed that most states included provisions that preserved the health care safety net, such as adapting the managed care benefit package and promoting the participation of safety net providers in managed care programs. In addition, most of the study states continued to pay special subsidies to safety net providers, including hospitals and clinics. CONCLUSIONS: States have made real progress in moving a large number of Medicaid beneficiaries into managed care. At the same time, many states have specially crafted their managed care programs to accommodate safety net providers and existing funding mechanisms. By making these adaptations states, in the long run, may compromise the central goals of managed care: controlling costs and improving Medicaid beneficiaries' access to and quality of care.  (+info)

Effect of physician specialty on outcomes in diabetic ketoacidosis. (5/255)

OBJECTIVE: More than 100,000 people are hospitalized annually in the U.S. with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Outcome differences have not been examined for these patients based on whether their primary care provider is a generalist or a diabetes specialist. The objective of this study was to investigate hospital charges and hospital length of stay (LOS) for patients with DKA according to the specialty of their primary care provider. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We investigated all patients with a primary diagnosis of DKA during a 3.5-year period (n = 260) in a large urban teaching hospital. Hospital charges and LOS were studied regarding the specialty of the primary care provider. Demographic factors, severity of illness, laboratory data, and readmission rates were compared. RESULTS: Patients cared for by generalists and endocrinologists had a similar case mix and severity of DKA. The age-adjusted mean LOS for patients of generalists was 4.9 days (95% CI 4.5-5.4), and the mean LOS for patients of endocrinologists was 3.3 days (2.6-4.2) (P < 0.0043). Mean hospital charges differed (P < 0.0001) with an age- and sex-adjusted mean for patients of endocrinologists of $5,463 ($4,179-7,141) and a mean for patients of generalists of $10,109 ($9,151-11,166). The additional charges incurred by generalists were due in part to patients undergoing more procedures. No differences in diabetes-related complications occurred during admission, but the endocrinologist-treated group had a lower readmission rate for DKA during the study period than the generalist-treated group (2 vs. 6%, respectively) (P = 0.03). CONCLUSIONS: Endocrinologists provide more cost-effective care than generalists do when serving as primary care providers for patients hospitalized with DKA.  (+info)

Adoption of alternative financing strategies to increase the diffusion of picture archiving and communication systems into the radiology marketplace. (6/255)

The objective of the study was to evaluate current marketplace conditions and strategies employed by major picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) vendors in the creation of alternative financing strategies, to enhance the diffusion of filmless imaging. Data were collected from the major PACS vendors in the forms of survey questionnaires and review of existing leases. Topics evaluated in the survey included current financing options available, foreseeable changes in PACS financing, role of third-party financiers, and creation of risk-sharing arrangements. Generic leases were also reviewed evaluating the presence or absence of several key variables including technology obsolescence protection, hardware/software upgrades, end-of-term options, determination of fair market value, functionality/acceptance testing, uptime guarantees, and workflow management consulting. Eight of the 10 PACS vendors surveyed participated in the data collection. The vast majority of current PACS implementations (60% to 90%) occur through direct purchase, with conventional leasing (operating or capital) accounting for only 5% to 30% of PACS installations. The majority of respondents view fee-for-lease arrangements and other forms of risk sharing as increasing importance for future PACS financing. The specific targets for such risk-sharing arrangements consist of small hospital and privately owned imaging centers. Leases currently offered range in duration from 3 to 5 years and frequently offer technology obsolescence protection with upgrades, multiple end-of-term options, and some form of acceptance testing. A number of important variables frequently omitted from leases include uptime guarantees, flexibility in changing financing or vendors, and incorporation of expected productivity/operational efficiency gains. As vendors strive to increase the penetration of PACS into the radiology marketplace, there will be a shift from conventional financing (loan or purchase) to leasing. Fee-for-use leasing and other forms of risk sharing have the greatest potential in smaller hospitals, which do not have the financial resources to pursue conventional financing options. Potential PACS customers must be cautious when entering into these alternative financing strategies, to ensure that appropriate safeguards are incorporated, in order to minimize downside risk.  (+info)

An assessment of the comparative advantages of paediatric activities using routine hospital records. (7/255)

Comparison is made of the advantages, in terms of benefit to patients and salary costs, of employing a consultant paediatrician and non-specialist physicians in clinical work, management activities, research, and education. Comparisons are based on data derived by a simple method from inpatient records of 10 125 children aged 0-5 years admitted over a 23-month period to Mbale Hospital, Uganda. Benefits to inpatients were assessed from the quarterly death and failure rates and the proportion of failures occurring within 24 h of admission to hospital. The relative costs of the various items of medical work were based on the salary costs that they incurred. The advantages of one activity compared with another are demonstrated, and the results clearly indicate that greater benefit at lower cost was obtained by the use of physicians in management and supervisory work than by employing them in the routine care of inpatients.  (+info)

Medicare program; changes to the hospital inpatient prospective payment systems and fiscal year 2001 rates. Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), HHS. Final rule. (8/255)

We are revising the Medicare hospital inpatient prospective payment system for operating costs to: implement applicable statutory requirements, including a number of provisions of the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children's Health Insurance Program Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999 (Pub. L. 106-113); and implement changes arising from our continuing experience with the system. In addition, in the Addendum to this final rule, we describe changes to the amounts and factors used to determine the rates for Medicare hospital inpatient services for operating costs and capital-related costs. These changes apply to discharges occurring on or after October 1, 2000. We also set forth rate-of-increase limits and make changes to our policy for hospitals and hospital units excluded from the prospective payment systems. We are making changes to the policies governing payments to hospitals for the direct costs of graduate medical education, sole community hospitals and critical access hospitals. We are adding a new condition of participation on organ, tissue, and eye procurement for critical access hospitals that parallels the condition of participation that we previously published for all other Medicare-participating hospitals. Lastly, we are finalizing a January 20, 2000 interim final rule with comment period (65 FR 3136) that sets forth the criteria to be used in calculating the Medicare disproportionate share adjustment in reference to Medicaid expansion waiver patient days under section 1115 of the Social Security Act.  (+info)