The average increase in the cost of employers' medical plans is expected to dip to 13% this year from 13.5% last year, according to a survey of 30 leading health insurers and HMOs by Sedgwick Noble Lowndes. The Memphis, Tenn.-based consulting firm said the increase for PPOs fell to 10% from 10.8%. For PPOs with a gatekeeper, increases fell to 8% from 8.5%. But staff-model HMO costs to employers are expected to increase 3% to 5%, depending on regional and local market conditions. The trend for independent practice association HMOs will vary from a decline of 4.9% to an increase of 7%. The firm warned that although the general rate of increase in health plan costs has dropped for the third straight year, health cost increases are still four times the general rate of inflation, and insurers expect utilization rates to rise.
Dallas-Fort Worth Medical Center is putting itself up for sale and has retained New York-based Cain Bros. to assess offers for the private not-for-profit hospital. The hospital isn't part of a system, although it's managed by Quorum Health Group of Brentwood, Tenn. "They've been very supportive of this process," said Bob Ficken, the hospital's chief financial officer, of Quorum's reaction to the hospital's possible sale. Located in Grand Prairie, a Dallas suburb, the 162-bed hospital is among the few in the area that haven't joined a system. The facility has $28 million in debt. Ficken said requests for proposals have been sent to 18 healthcare systems.
Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., Nashville, Tenn., announced three management appointments. John Kausch was named president of the north Florida division, Jay Jarrell was named president of the southwest Florida division, and Art Doloresco was named president of the Kentucky division. Kausch had been president and chief executive officer of Columbia West Florida Regional Medical Center, Pensacola, for 10 years. Jarrell formerly was vice president of finance for Columbia's Florida group. Doloresco had been vice president of operations for Champion Healthcare Corp., an investor-owned chain based in Houston.
McManis Associates, a management consulting firm owned by Deerfield, Ill.-based MMI Cos., has acquired Arnwine Associates, a Dallas-based healthcare consulting firm. MMI declined to reveal the purchase price. The acquisition was effective June 1. Arnwine joined McManis in the newly formed MMI Strategic Management Consulting Group. Don Arnwine will retain his position as president of Arnwine Associates and has been named a director of McManis Associates and a managing director of SMCG. Arnwine was chief executive officer at University of Colorado Hospitals and Charleston (W.Va.) Area Medical Center and served as president, CEO and chairman of Voluntary Hospitals of America, now known as VHA. He formed Arnwine Associates in 1989.
Thomas Beckett, 60, president and chief executive officer of 227-bed Columbia La Grange (Ill.) Memorial Hospital, will retire this summer. Beckett has been the suburban Chicago hospital's top executive since 1989. Formerly La Grange Memorial Hospital, the facility was acquired last year by investor-owned Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., Nashville, Tenn. Terms of the purchase weren't disclosed.
In a move demonstrating employers' belief that consumers must be more involved in medical decisions, the Pacific Business Group on Health, a San Francisco-based purchasing coalition, is donating $22,000 worth of decisionmaking videotapes to California libraries. Along with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, the effort seeks to help patients make informed treatment decisions. Results at health plans that use the videos, developed by the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision-Making, show that patients select more conservative treatment options and are more satisfied with their choices, the PBGH said. For example, the rate of prostate surgery dropped in the first year of a pilot program at Kaiser Permanente in Denver.