“April 14, 2003 Intelligence:  Late Breaking Lab News”

Lab executives and pathologists concerned about closed panel HMOs should closely study a recent Supreme Court decision. On April 2, the court issued a ruling that supports a state’s right to enact “any willing provider” laws. Kentucky had passed two laws requiring health plans to accept all out-of-network physicians, hospitals, laboratories, and other healthcare providers, so long as they agree to abide by the plan’s contract terms. The case was titled “Kentucky Association of Health Plans v. Miller.”

On March 31, IMPATH, Inc. announced that its quarterly financial report would be delayed. IMPATH has decided to report revenue from non-contracted payers net of an estimated allowance. This is how most labs report revenue from contracted payers and Medicare. The accounting change will affect IMPATH’s net revenue and bad debt and comes in response to criticisms about the company’s accounting and billing practices.

CONSUMER-DRIVEN HEALTH PLANS ARE GROWING IN NUMBER

To control double-digit increases in healthcare costs, employers are turning to consumer-driven health plans. Deloitte & Touche released a survey of 287 companies earlier this month. By a significant percentage, respondents expect to make consumer-driven health plans, where employees take greater responsibility for their health care, part of their benefit packages. Currently 11% of the surveyed companies offer consumer-directed options. An additional 8% expect to offer such plans within two years while another 35% of the companies are reviewing these types of plans.

ADD TO: Consumer-Driven Health Plans

Results of Deloitte & Touche’s survey support v THE DARK REPORT’S long-standing prediction that consumers will assume a greater role in their healthcare in coming years. That means clinical laboratories and pathology group practices should actively develop business strategies designed to meet the changing expectations of their patients. The Deloitte & Touche survey indicates that employers are heading in the same direction as their workers—benefit options that provide more healthcare choices. This supports the growing numbers of workers who, on their own, want broader access to physicians, hospitals, and health providers of their choosing.

ANOTHER ISO LAB

Beaumont Reference Laboratories (BRL) is the first clinical laboratory in Michigan to become certified as ISO-9001:2000 compliant. The audit took place in December 2002. As a result of the ISO certification effort, BRL has reassessed operational practices in all areas of its organization. Moreover, BRL expects its ISO certification to be a marketing plus for its laboratory outreach program. That’s because Michigan employers, particularly the auto manufacturers and their vendors, consider ISO-9000 to be a respected hallmark for a company’s quality.

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