CHARLESTON, W.Va.-The state's largest hospital is requiring employees who smoke to pay 10% more for their health insurance than non-smokers. Charleston Area Medical Center workers also will face higher premiums if they don't wear safety belts or motorcycle helmets. The changes are part of an effort to emphasize wellness and prevention of illness and injury, said Les Melton, the hospital's vice president of human resources.
"People who act on those (unhealthy) behaviors need to understand there's a price to pay, whether it's a physical price*.*.*.*or an economic price," Mr. Melton said. Most CAMC employees are insured through the hospital, which has its own indemnity insurance plan and intends to launch an HMO employees may join. Having smokers pay a 10% surcharge on premiums makes more sense than having non-smokers pay medical bills for smokers who become ill, Mr. Melton said. He estimated that 20% of the hospital's 4,300 employees use some kind of tobacco. CAMC will determine which employees smoke simply by asking them, he said. There will be no testing for tobacco use, he said. Employees who file claims for car and motorcycle accidents will see their premiums temporarily increase if they weren't wearing a safety belt or helmet as required by law.-Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C.-Presbyterian Hospital has acquired two more physician practices, bringing the total to six group practices acquired by the hospital this year. The hospital is engaged in a three-way practice acquisition war in Mecklenburg County, N.C. (May 30, p. 30). Its most recent acquisitions are the Rankin Women's Center, a seven-physician obstetrics and gynecology practice, and Charlotte Internal Medicine Associates, a four-physician internal medicine group. Presbyterian acquired the assets of the practices for undisclosed amounts. The physicians will become employees of Presbyterian Healthcare Associates Corp., the hospital's physician-hospital organization. The PHO now has 90 primary-care physicians.
WASHINGTON-George Washington University Hospital will build a 100,000-square-foot outpatient facility, double the size of its emergency room and reduce its inpatient capacity from more than 400 beds to 250, the hospital has announced. The $90 million project is expected to take up to four years. It replaces a major expansion plan the hospital had put on hold while it haggled with Congress for funds. Hospital officials said they will continue to seek funds from Congress but have also planned a capital campaign to pay for the construction.