Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us

Journalist Steven Brill spent seven months analyzing hundreds of bills from hospitals, doctors, and drug companies and medical equipment manufacturers to find out who is setting such high prices and pocketing the biggest profits. What he discovered, outlined in detail in the cover story of the new issue of TIME, will radically change the way you think about our medical institutions.

 

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GOVERNOR RE-APPOINTS ROBYN JACOBSON TO HEALTH INSTITUTE

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Texas Governor Rick Perry has re-appointed Robyn Jacobson, COO of Entrust, Inc., for a 4-year term to the Board of Directors of the Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency.

The Institute has the charge to study and issue recommendations in three broad areas: improving the quality and efficiency of health care delivery; improving the reporting, organization, and transparency of health care information; and supporting the implementation of innovative health care collaborative payment delivery systems.

“I am honored to be re-appointed by the Governor to the Board. With the healthcare expenditure in Texas reaching unprecedented levels, the implicit task in front of the Institute to find ways to reduce healthcare cost trends is more important than ever,” said Mrs. Jacobson.

In November 2012, the Institute issued a 210-page report introducing a wide range of opportunities to help Texas improve its health care delivery system.

One of six board members to provide additional comments in the report, Mrs. Jacobson wrote: “The public wants, and deserves, to know everything about their health care – the quality, outcomes and price. As a by-product of the high cost of health services and its resulting impact on health plans in both the private and public sectors, there is a greater percentage of uninsured, under-insured or those in high deductible health care plans.

“It will take a tenacious Institute Board to research and deliberate the issues so our state leadership can bring about this necessary change and empower Texas citizens in the management of their health. Other states have either introduced legislation to create a free market in healthcare or are contemplating doing so in the next year. The issues may be complex but the evidence is clear. Our state leaders can play an important role to promote a free market in healthcare and ensure the future sustainability of healthcare in Texas by supporting transparency.”

Mrs. Jacobson has a reputation for remaining at the forefront of her ever-changing industry. Her third party administrator and employee health care benefit consulting firm, Entrust Inc., and is highly regarded for its innovative and cost-effective solutions for employers. In addition to being the Chief Operating Officer of the Entrust, Inc., Mrs. Jacobson is also the CEO of a claim adjudication software company, EnCore System Professionals, Inc., Immediate Past Board Chairman of the National Society of Professional Benefit Administrators (SPBA), Immediate Past President and active board member of the Texas Association of Benefit Administrators (TABA), and a member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Houston West Chamber of Commerce. In January 2013, she was appointed to the board of directors of the Texas Association of Business.

ENTRUST BREAKS GROUND ON NEW HEADQUARTERS

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Pictured from left to right: Dixie Gunning, CFO at Entrust; Randy Wilhelm, President of NAI Houston; Jack McCullough, Senior Vice-President of Allegiance Bank Texas; John Moody, President of Parkside Capital; Dennis Nelson, CEO of Mission Companies; Robyn Jacobson, COO of Entrust; Ed Jacobson, CEO of Entrust; Andy Meyers, Commissioner at Fort Bend County; David Jacobson, Vice-President of Marketing at Entrust.

Entrust, Inc. has officially broken ground on its new corporate headquarters in Houston’s rapidly-developing Fort Bend County.

The high-spirited ceremony was held on Thursday, January 24, at the intersection of Westpark Tollway and Grand Parkway 99 where representatives from Entrust and their development partner, The Mission Companies, were welcomed by members of the Fort Bend and Katy Area Economic Development Council.

Projected to be complete in August 2013, the two-story building will house 32,542 square feet of office space in the fastest-growing major business hub in the Texas Gulf Coast Region.  The six-million-dollar investment is expected to bring 120 employees to Fort Bend County. 

Financing for the project comes both from the principals of Entrust, Inc., Robyn and Ed Jacobson, and from the Mission Companies, who have been involved in the management and/or leasing of over five million square feet of commercial space in the State of Texas.

“When I think about it, we’ve always been breaking new ground,” said Entrust Founder and CEO Ed Jacobson.  Over the last 38 years we’ve stayed at the forefront of our industry, bobbing and weaving for our clients, and our business has continued to grow.  Over the next few weeks, I look forward to seeing it grow two stories tall.”

“Far from a final resting place, we are very pleased to be building a final home for our growing group of companies,” quipped Entrust’s Robyn Jacobson before thanking attendees.  Mrs Jacobson was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency by Governor Rick Perry.

Entrust, which also has a full service office in Corpus Christi, will act as the development’s anchor tenant, occupying 22,500 square feet of the new building.  Remaining ground floor office space will be available for lease to other Katy-based businesses.

Pitting Employees Against Each Other … for Health

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“In the effort to make workers healthier, employers and insurers have dangled carrots. They’ve threatened with sticks. Now, they are trying games.”  Read more…

California Legislation Would Restrict the Ability of Smaller Employers to Self-Insure

A bill was amended this week in the California State Legislature in a way that would effectively take away the ability of smaller employers in that state to operate self-insurde group health plans by restricting access to stop-loss insurance.  Read more…

‎’A’ is for ‘Ambulatory Surgical Center’

 

This is a licensed facility that is used mainly for performing outpatient surgery, has a staff of Physicians, has continuous Physician and nursing care by registered nurses (R.N.s) and does not provide for overnight stays.

From the ENTRUST HEALTHCARE GLOSSARY

7 Things Employers Don’t Know About Healthcare Benefits

“During the bad economy, employees were focused primarily on salary. Now… they are taking a look at their entire compensation package and benefits are coming into sharper view.”  Read more here.

Governor appoints Robyn Jacobson, COO of Entrust, to new Health Institute

HOUSTON, TEXAS (April 4, 2012) – Texas Governor Rick Perry has appointed Robyn Jacobson, COO of Entrust, Inc., to the Board of Directors of the newly-formed Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency.

“I am honored to be appointed by the Governor to the Board, and hope that the goals of creating a viable free market of healthcare services can be realized for the people of Texas,” said Mrs. Jacobson.

During the last legislative session, Mrs. Jacobson worked with Representative Lois Kolkhorst on HB 2430, a bill that would have created a fair playing field for all consumers by requiring providers to establish one price for their services, regardless of who the payer is, and disclose that price in advance of services rendered. While the bill did not pass during last session, the transparency aspect of the bill was added to article 3 of SB 7 during a special session, which established the new Institute.

The Institute has the charge of improving health care quality, accountability, education, and cost containment in Texas by encouraging health care provider collaboration, effective health care delivery models and coordination of health care services. Due to report its recommendations by January 1, 2013, the Institute is also tasked with examining the inconsistency of health care providers’ charges and exploring potential ways to improve consumers’ access to pricing information.

One of just two businesspeople appointed to the medically-trained 13-person board, Mrs. Jacobson has a reputation for remaining at the forefront of her ever-changing industry. Her premier employee benefits third party administrator, Entrust Inc., is highly regarded for its innovative and cost-effective solutions for employers.

In addition to being the Chief Operating Officer of the Entrust, Inc., Mrs. Jacobson is also the CEO of a claim adjudication software company, EnCore System Professionals, Inc., Board Chairman of the National Society of Professional Benefit Administrators (SPBA), immediate Past President and a board member of the Texas Association of Benefit Administrators (TABA), and a member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), Houston West Chamber of Commerce, and Texas Association of Business.

SPBA in talks with HHS on Hospital Transparency

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CHEVY CHASE, MARYLAND (March 5, 2012) – Staff at the Society of Professional Benefit Administrators (SPBA) – including Chairman Robyn Jacobson – recently joined Actuary Hobson Carroll, FSA MAAA, in meeting with high-level U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) policymakers to discuss the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) hospital transparency provision.

In October 2011, SPBA submitted Policy Brief Comments on Section 2718(e) of Title XXVII Public Health Service Act which deals with Standard Hospital Charges.  The subsection is loaded with words that have escaped common acceptance of their definitions and can change depending upon the stakeholders’ interpretation.

“The inherent struggle to reach a consensus of opinion on the what and how of expressing hospital charges to the public is a debate that could take decades more to resolve if we do not have legislation and regulations to facilitate this practice.  Talking with HHS on February 14, we elaborated on why the approach put forward in our Policy Brief Comments is vital,” said Mrs. Robyn Jacobson, SPBA Chairman.

Taking SPBA’s proposals on hospital transparency into serious consideration, high-ranking representatives from various government agencies participated in asking probing questions.

“Think of the empowerment to be gained by exposing the range of actual payments hospitals are willing to receive from different payers for more or less the same service, and the resulting innovation and creativity generated in benefit plan and provider reimbursement structure design, and the competition that will, using this first step, inexorably result in the market place,” enthused Mr. Hobson Carroll.

Even though the law exists as part of the Affordable Care Act, the regulatory process will take time to complete.  Functioning as a principal knowledge resource for regulators, SPBA is well-positioned to continue its dialog on the topic of hospital transparency until a workable and enforceable rule is implemented.

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