Preparing for a statewide shift into managed care, Straub Clinic and Hospital in Honolulu wants to launch its own health maintenance organization to compete with its business partner, Hawaii Medical Service Association, and rival Kaiser Permanente.
Blake E. Waterhouse, M.D., Straub's president and chief executive officer, said in a recent interview with MOD-ERN HEALTHCARE that his 143-bed hospital wants to market its HMO product directly to healthcare payers and retain the premium dollars it usually shares with insurance providers.
Dr. Waterhouse indicated that executives of Straub, which has a 160-multispecialty physician group practice, believe it can offer "the same kind of quality care (it provides) for simply a different financing mechanism."
Dr. Waterhouse predicted the Hawaiian healthcare market, which requires employers to provide health insurance coverage for their workers because of a state mandate, will probably evolve into a capitated delivery system within the next five years.
Straub now provides other HMO-type offerings through various joint ventures with HMSA, the state's largest private health insurer. Straub wants to begin marketing the HMO early this year, pending state regulatory approval.
Dr. Waterhouse estimated that from 15% to 20% of the clinic's patients now are enrolled in its existing managed-care plans. He said the others largely are patients who receive medical care through fee-for-service arrangements.
Richard Meiers, president of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, a trade organization representing the state's private hospitals and nursing homes, said a new HMO offering in the Aloha State would be beneficial to patients and employers, who pay for the health coverage of their workers.
Mr. Meiers said Straub's entry into the Hawaii managed-care market would help boost competition among providers and eventually lower healthcare costs, while giving healthcare purchasers more choices.-Della de Lafuente