Average annual health benefits costs paid by U.S. employers rose 8% in 1993, to $3,781 from $3,502 in 1992 per employee, according to a yearly health benefits survey released last week by A. Foster Higgins & Co. The study of 2,395 employers nationwide found that traditional indemnity, or fee-for-service health plans, remained the most expensive health plan alternative in 1993, averaging $3,500 per worker. That compares with average healthcare costs of $3,276 per worker enrolled in health maintenance organizations and $3,317 per worker in preferred provider organizations. Survey respondents cited a continued movement into managed care from fee-for-service medicine and increased competition among managed-care plans as factors contributing to the modest 8% increase.
The top executive of the nation's largest hospital company indicated last week that its headquarters will stay in Louisville, Ky., which has been battling Nashville, Tenn., for that prize. "I believe that in the end that we will continue the headquarters in Louisville," said Richard Scott, president and chief executive officer of the newly merged Columbia-HCA Healthcare Corp. But Mr. Scott stressed that he wasn't going to make it official until Kentucky awards Columbia-HCA the contract to continue managing the University of Louisville Hospital.-Associated Press
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan has fired 21 managers who oversaw a department responsible for audits of Medicare hospital cost reports that is under investigation by the FBI. The Blues said the managers were fired for failing to ensure the company's ethical code of conduct was obeyed and for losing $15 million annually in government business, which has been transferred temporarily to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. No charges have been filed against the Blues. The FBI and company auditors separately are investigating whether the Blues exaggerated the accuracy and quality of the audits (Jan. 3, p. 18), which help HCFA determine whether to do business with the company or find a new contractor. About 100 employees remain in the department.
Dun & Bradstreet HealthCare Information, a division the Dun and Bradstreet Corp., has acquired Lexecon Health Service, a Chicago-based supplier of patient-outcome data. The agreement's terms weren't disclosed. Rumors of the deal had been circulating for weeks, but neither party would comment on them.
*Former Towers Financial Corp. Chairman Steven Hoffenberg was arrested last week by the U.S. attorney's office in New York on charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice. The Securities and
Exchange Commission said a c riminal complaint charged Mr. Hoffenberg with obstructing the SEC's investigation and prosecution of the agency's civil suit against him (Feb. 7, p. 6).
Voluntary Hospitals of America has awarded a three-year contract to KCI Therapeutic Services to supply specialty beds to alliance hospitals. The contract is valued at $120 million. KCI, a division of San Antonio, Texas-based Kinetic Concepts, makes beds that are used to prevent and treat pressure sores. Irving, Texas-based VHA represents 950 healthcare facilities.
*Journalist Randy Shilts, who chronicled the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in his best-selling book And The Band Played On, died last week at his San Francisco home of complications from the deadly disease he covered. Mr. Shilts was 42. Mr. Shilts, who worked as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, was the first reporter assigned to cover AIDS as a full-time beat. The book was made into a television movie, which also earned national awards. Mr. Shilts was diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, on the day he finished writing his book.
*John Ball, M.D., 49, executive vice president of the American College of Physicians since 1986, will resign effective June 30, the group announced. A spokeswoman for the 82,000-member ACP said Dr. Ball and the group's board of regents had "reached an understanding that organizations need change and this is a good time to change." Dr. Ball couldn't be reached for comment. No successor has been named to head the group, which represents internists.