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‘Never Events’ Survey Finds Employers Say No Way That They Should Pay

Ninety-five percent of employers say hospitals should waive all costs associated with so-called “never events,” or serious and largely preventable illnesses or injuries that occur at a hospital, a survey by the Midwest Business Group on Health has found.


While employers say never-event charges should be waived, only 68 percent of a group of health care industry stakeholders—including hospitals, public health officials, and health plan and medical providers—agree with that position, according to the survey.


Moreover, nearly all employers responding to the survey said hospitals should refrain from trying to collect payment from patients for treatment of a never event. Just 70 percent of health care industry stakeholders agreed.


Despite the stance, few, if any, employers are enforcing a never-event policy, said Larry Boress, president and CEO of the Chicago-based health care coalition. The primary reason is a concern that their employees might be billed for the balance of the charges, he said.


Other survey findings include:


• Sixty-two percent of employers said they or their health plans should reimburse hospitals for treatment of conditions that the patient contracted after hospital admission if the hospital is not at fault, compared with 52 percent of health care industry stakeholders.


• Thirty-six percent of employers said they or their health plans should pay for never events, compared with 35 percent of health care industry stakeholders.


• Seventy-seven percent of employers said their health plans should adopt a nonpayment policy for hospital-acquired conditions similar to that used by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, compared with 59 percent of health care industry stakeholders.


• Ninety-one percent of employers said hospitals should apologize to the patient in the event of a serious medical error or hospital-acquired condition, compared with 83 percent of health care stakeholders.


The survey was conducted as part of the Midwest Business Group on Health’s hospital performance and public reporting efforts. The survey that was conducted this month included responses from 50 employer members of the coalition and 110 health care industry stakeholders.


Filed by Joanne Wojcik of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.


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