TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-A survey of the healthcare plans offered by 300 local governments in Florida last year has found wide variations in premium levels, benefits and choice of providers. The survey, conducted by the Florida Healthcare Purchasing Alliance, is intended to help local governments share information in order to help them reduce their healthcare costs, said Douglas Charity, an economist with the alliance. For example, monthly premiums for individual coverage ranged from $83 to $429, the survey said. Premium rates were higher for PPOs ($193 a month average) than indemnity plans ($184 a month) and HMOs ($155 a month), the survey said. Mr. Charity said one local government, the Collier County School Board, used the alliance's information last year to help negotiate a contract that will save $1.1 million over the next three years. Besides providing survey information on healthcare plans, the alliance helps local governments develop requests for proposals, analyzes claims data and prepares various reports for state government. The alliance, which is a private, not-for-profit organization, was created by the state Legislature in 1991. Its annual budget is $500,000 and it is expected to become a self-sufficient organization by 1995.
CHARLOTTE, N.C.-Presbyterian Hospital has signed letters of intent to acquire two local pediatric practices to add to its growing physician-hospital organization, Presbyterian Healthcare Associates Corp. The hospital's acquisition of the first practice, the five-member Eastover Pediatrics group, is scheduled to be completed early this month. The purchase of the second, the five-member Matthews Children's Clinic, is expected to become final in June. Under the arrangements, the 590-bed hospital would acquire the assets of each practice, and the physicians would become employees of the PHO. The acquisition prices weren't disclosed. The addition of the 10 pediatricians will increase the PHO's physician roster to about 60.
COLUMBIA, S.C.-Delays in discharging patients may be costing South
Carolina hospitals and residents $28 million, according to a report from the South Carolina Hospital Association. Many of the patients spending unnecessary time in hospital beds are mentally ill or elderly and have nowhere else to go, the SCHA report said. The study cited three main reasons for the delays: lack of other choices for people with special needs, such as patients dependent on ventilators; a shortage of specialized care for patients with specific problems, such as mental illness, who could be treated in community settings; and poor coordination in the healthcare delivery system, such as in treatment of HIV patients whose needs could be met in more cost-effective ways.-Associated Press