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Fixin' Healthcare

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Interesting Doings

Couple of interesting reports in the Wall Street Journal today.

An editorial presented how some states are introducing changes in Medicaid. Florida proposes reform with consumer choice and competition. To compensate for the sick and disabled there is risk-adjusted premiums. An innovative aspect of the program is financial incentive to follow their doctor's medical plan that will include lifestyle changes and preventive health care.

Medicaid might be the best vehicle for testing plans to reform the delivery of health care. Florida will implement the changes next summer in two counties covering 200,000 medicaid recipients. Other states, including South Carolina, indicate they will experiment with changes. Everything doesn't have to be bet on one roll of the dice and the different approaches expands the opportunity to learn something useful.

Another article reports how Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. is using the carrot and the stick to address unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking. Assistance is offered to stop smoking and bonuses are given for not smoking. There is a $20 monthly surcharge on health benefits for smokers and the company is firing smokers. This sounds like a program that will benefit Scotts but may not do much to impact the overall rate of smoking. But it deserves study because there is not enough known about how incentives and penalties work to change health behavior.

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