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AOA NOW: February 10, 2017
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Feb. 10, 2017


U.S. Judge Blocks Anthem-Cigna Health Insurance Merger

Source: ABC News

A federal judge on Wednesday rejected Anthem Inc.'s bid to buy rival health insurer Cigna Corp., saying the merger would likely lead to higher costs, less competition and diminished innovation. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the merger would significantly reduce competition in the already concentrated insurance market, particularly for large national employers. Cigna and Anthem are two of just four insurers selling to companies with 5,000 employees spread across multiple states, and they compete aggressively for business, the judge wrote. Read the full story on ABC News' website.


A Look Forward to Healthcare in 2017: Top Five Trends

Source: Health Affairs Blog

The new year is already underway and we expect both a new Republican-dominated Congress and President Donald Trump to bring ambitious policy changes to health care. With significant pent up energy among the Republicans and a limited 18-month window for legislation, lawmakers will be in an immediate all-out policy-making mode. This is particularly true for health care, which many in Congress consider a top issue on the docket. With an eagerness for change, health care is in flux, and difficult decisions will need to be made that will directly affect Americans both socially and economically. In this world, many are left wondering what to expect in 2017. Here are the top five health care trends to watch in the New Year. Read the full blog entry on Heath Affairs' website.



Need Another Creative Way to Boost Physician and Staff Morale?
There are endless ways to boost morale! Most physician practices recognize a day during the calendar year as their “anniversary” date, or “founder’s day”. Consider designating this day/date as an annual Employee Appreciation Day, and/or designate the week leading up to, or surrounding, this day as Employee Appreciation Week. As part of the day’s/week’s activities, consider inexpensive appreciation gifts branded with the practice logo or gift cards. Gifts can be in the form of restaurant gift cards, gas cards, tote bags, cooler bags, director’s chairs, Tervis Tumblers, etc. Culminate the day’s/week’s activities by closing early, or extending the lunch period, to allow for a hotdog/hamburger cookout or catered luncheon and outdoor activities. Activities could include a cake walk, outdoor games, tailgate party, etc. If you fundraise for a charitable organization throughout the year, consider a “Pie in the Eye” or “Dunking Booth” fundraiser where employees pay for the opportunity to throw a pie in the face of, or dunk, their favorite (or not so favorite) doctor, manager or supervisor. Whatever you do, make it both fun and memorable. It fosters camaraderie amongst your physicians and staff, and - most of all - encourages laughter and good times.


Self Pay/Cash Pay
Do you allow patients to opt out of insurance and pay cash for services? With deductibles on the rise, many patients are preferring to pay out-of-pocket for services instead of going through insurance claims. Learn what practices are doing in these situations. Contribute your thoughts, and check out more great topics - or add your own! - on the AOA Discussion Forums.

Q: We are now starting to experience some of the patients with high deductible policies, and we have had a handful of patients who want to be a cash pay instead of going through their insurance. Do you let your patients pick and choose what charges they can do cash pay and what ones they want to send through to their insurance? We recently had one that paid the cash pay price but then later came back saying they wanted us to file it to their insurance. If they do this do we bill them for whatever insurance didn't pay? It seems like they are wanting the reduced price but the full amount to go to their deductible. Anyone else running into this and, if so, how are you handling it?

A: We do not allow patients to pick and choose insurance or cash. If they have insurance, we bill their insurance, and if they do not, we offer a discounted self-pay rate. We do offer a financing plan - Wells Fargo Health Advantage - that helps with the large out-of-pocket expenses. If you file with insurance, you should follow the insurance policy and bill the patient for his copay, coinsurance and deductible. The cash payment they made would be applied to that claim.

A: Legally, they can pay cash if they wish to not file with their insurance, and if so, we have them sign the appropriate forms. But it is all or nothing - if they opt out of having us file their insurance, they cannot pick and choose.


Are You Reading FAST Practice?
Did you know that your AOA membership comes with a complimentary subscription to the FAST Practice newsletter? Created by Greenbranch Publishing, this monthly newsletter is built on the journal club concept, and expert editors select and summarize 16 of the most valuable practice management articles from current literature. This is a $219 a year value! Check your inbox around the 15th of each month for the latest edition and access instructions.


Educate yourself and your office with AOA webinars. Learn about several upcoming titles below. Visit the AOA Webinars page to register. Secure your education for 2017 with the 2017 AOA webinar subscription for the low member rate of just $349.

Feb. 15 @ 1 p.m. Eastern | "
Audiology Pricing Strategies" presented by Kim Cavitt, AuD
Feb. 22 @ 1 p.m. Eastern | "
Understanding Your QRUR Report" presented by Virginia Brooks, MHA, CPHQ
March 1 @ 1 p.m. Eastern | "
Lumps and Bumps - Common Coding Errors" presented by Jacqueline Thelian, CPC, CPC-I, CHCA
March 8 @ 1 p.m. Eastern | "
Best Practices in Physician Administration" presented by Owen Dahl, MBA, FACHE, LSSMBB

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