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"Novel...Health Plans Gain Traction"

Today's Wall Street Journal spotlights what I call hospital-sponsored "health insurance lite;"
"The programs typically involve collaboration between business owners, nonprofit groups and local hospitals, which offer enrollees a range of medical services at a reduced rate. The plans keep costs down partly by bypassing the extra costs that come with traditional insurance. That can be a big help for small-business employees who can't afford traditional insurance. But for patients with costly chronic diseases or catastrophic illnesses, the coverage would likely be inadequate.

In Galveston, Texas, the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital recently began providing coverage to more than 430 employees of small businesses at a cost to individuals of $60 a month, plus copayments -- far less than many traditional insurance plans. Nonprofit groups, including ones in Duluth, Minn., and Pueblo, Colo., have started similar programs. In Muskegon, Mich., one such program called Access Health currently covers about 1,100 small-business employees."
I've built (and, regrettably, disassembled) several of these plans over my career, living each time to fight another day and with a deeper understanding of what is meant by "Perfection is the enemy of the good" (a quote variously attributed to Voltaire, Flaubert and Joseph Addison, whoever HE is...)

True, the plans don't cover everything or address health care's every systemic flaw, but they're a start and it's heartening to see providers taking the lead. An idea that doesn't solve ALL problems may still be worthwhile if it solves a few.

The hardest part is convincing reticent providers that these plans don't really expose them to additional risk beyond what they'd have anyway, with uninsured, acutely-ill patients landing in their ER. Better (and far cheaper) to intervene early and sensibly.


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