If Monty Hall was offering to make you a deal on health care, your best option might be to avoid the door marked “hospital.”
Two new studies show how patients, employers and the federal government can save big bucks on health costs if people choose to get surgeries and other medical treatment at independent outpatient locations, as opposed to hospitals or hospital-operated centers.
DANBURY — Physicians with Brewster, N.Y.-based Northeast Radiology are hoping to provide some of the latest equipment to their clients through a merger with Housatonic Valley Radiological Associates.
Executives with the practices, which both have Danbury locations, said changes in the health care system and a shared culture of patient care prompted the merger. As part of the effort, the organization will be investing millions of dollars in new equipment for their facilities both here and in New Milford.
“We will be making major investments to upgrade MRI, CT scan, 3D mammography, and ultrasound in the imaging centers,” Dr. Howard Lee, the president of Northeast Radiology, said in a recent statement. “We also will be upgrading the IT infrastructure and facilities to improve the patient experience and to enhance ease of access and service for our patients and referring physicians.”
‘Multi-million dollar investment’ planned for both locations
BY MICHAEL C. JULIANO REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Northeast Radiology, a Brewster, N.Y.-based provider of medical imaging, has acquired the Danbury and New Milford offices of Housatonic Valley Radiological Associates, or HVRA, which operates a third imaging centers in Southbury.
Northeast Radiology said today in a news release that the merger became effective today, and that both companies will now operate under the Northeast Radiology name.
Northeast Radiology and Housatonic Valley Radiological Associates (HVRA) are proud to announce that they will be merging operations effective August 3, 2015. The companies will continue operating under the Northeast Radiology name.
The integration of the practices will take advantage of the strengths of both organizations and will significantly improve access to high quality, affordable imaging services for patients in the greater Danbury and New Milford communities. “As part of our commitment to our patients, referring physicians, and the community, we will be making a multi-million dollar investment in our Danbury and New Milford imaging centers” said Dr. Howard Lee, MD, President of Northeast Radiology. He continued: “We will be making major investments to upgrade MRI, CT scan, 3D mammography, and ultrasound in the imaging centers. We also will be upgrading the IT infrastructure and facilities to improve the patient experience and to enhance ease of access and service for our patients and referring physicians.”
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality for both men and women in the US. Lung cancers are typically found at advanced stages, when treatment options are limited and as a result, mortality rates are high. Early detection is key with lung cancer, and recent studies have found a significant survival benefit to patients who have low dose CT scans to identify lung cancer at its earliest stages.
New Medicare guidelines will provide coverage to high-risk seniors for low dose CT screening studies, beginning in 2015. Many private insurers will also be covering the screening test for individuals who are at high-risk.
Lohud - The Journal News
Over the past year, community hospitals in the Lower Hudson Valley have been courted by large, out-of-town health care networks, with many marching down the aisle to cast their future with giant health systems.
But these mergers may not lead to relationships that satisfy everyone.
Hospitals tout the benefits of joining bigger health systems as better coordinated health care and efficiencies of scale resulting in lower costs.
They can bring new services to an area – even areas like Westchester and Rockland already served by plenty of well-equipped and well-staffed medical centers. The consolidations also put hospital systems in a better position to qualify for a chunk of the $8 billion in Medicaid redesign money the state is doling out.
The Wall Street Journal
Should consumers shop for the best deals–or any deals–when it comes to their health care? Don’t miss this interactive video JournalCast, moderated The Wall Street Journal’s health columnist Melinda Beck and featuring a panel of health-care experts from across the country.
Video Panelists Include:
- Ardis Dee Hoven: President, American Medical Association
- Jeffrey Rice: President and CEO, Healthcare Bluebook
- Suzanne Delbanco: Executive Director, Catalyst for Payment Reform
The Wall Street Journal
It’s a simple idea, but a radical one. Let people know in advance how much health care will cost them—and whether they can find a better deal somewhere else.
With outrage growing over incomprehensible medical bills and patients facing a higher share of the costs, momentum is building for efforts to do just that. Price transparency, as it is known, is common in most industries but rare in health care, where “charges,” “prices,” “rates” and “payments” all have different meanings and bear little relation to actual costs. Read more >>
Save big at independent facilities. Different facilities charge vastly different prices for x-rays and tests. For example, the average in-network cost of an MRI at a hospital is $1,145, but the average in-network cost at an independent radiology facility is just $560, says Kang. “The radiologist is the same. The only difference is where the procedure is done,” he says.
If you haven’t met your policy’s annual deductible, you could save $585 by going with the lower-cost facility. But even if you have met your deductible and you’re on the hook only for a 20% coinsurance payment, choosing the independent radiology facility could still save you $117 in out-of-pocket costs.
“When doctors order a lab test or an x-ray, they write a requisition form,” says Kang. “But as with a prescription, you’re free to fill it at any facility. People don’t understand that.”
Diagnostic radiology procedures have become a major target of Medicare reimbursement cuts. The impression is that these expensive tests are a chief contributor to the rising cost of healthcare. However, imaging costs vary according to where they are performed.
To understand where the imaging costs were the highest and how best to improve cost savings without limiting access to tests, researchers undertook an evaluation of Medicare Part B data to assess which tests were being performed, by whom, and in what settings.