Hospital seeks to improve health plan communications | SierraSun.com
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Hospital seeks to improve health plan communications

JOHN A. BAYLESS

Tahoe Forest Hospital District directors decided in their Tuesday meeting that more and better communication with district residents about community health planning would be an important focus for the district in months to come.

“The hospital is committing to more comprehensive and more detailed communication of the health plan options available to the community,” Director Rob Eskridge said.

He said because the mass of information about health care plans and providers is so confusing, it is imperative the district develop better communication.

“We have to work more closely with the broker community to get information to brokers and employees, and develop a central point of information for the community,” he said.

Eskridge heads the hospital district Ad Hoc Communications Committee, and proposed a series of steps for the district to pursue in community health planning, including the following:

Proceed with documentation of the principles, goals and policies for community health planning.

Provide information to public concerning insurance plans available, with names of brokers to contact for plan design, pricing and application information. Also give information on provider networks which are available locally, with best information available on which providers can be accessed by each plan.

In cooperation with local brokers, analyze and understand perceived deficiencies in local health plans, their networks and plan benefits for each segment, as input to setting community health planning priorities.

Distribute information to local brokers, employees and interested service area residents.

Continue to collect information on demographics, needs and benefits coverage for each community segment.

Finalize guidelines and specific mechanisms for inbound and outbound communication regarding community health planning.

Utilize these communication guidelines and mechanisms as part of the board meetings and meetings held by the hospital joint ventures and Limited Liability Company if the hospital forms one.

The process would include posting joint venture meeting agendas along with Tahoe Forest Hospital District board agendas.

The policy committee will review existing policy guidelines regarding the authority given to the hospital administrator to act on the board’s behalf, and recommend “standing orders” or powers which the board reserves to itself.

Limited Liability Company

The district also approved the hospital’s participation in a Limited Liability Company (LLC) with other members of the joint venture, including Barton Memorial Hospital and the Tahoe Independent Physician’s Association to form an in-house insurance plan through Tahoe Health Systems.

The LLC is a relatively new form of business entity in California, which is in general, organized like a partnership but has the limited liability of a corporation.

In a partnership, such as the existing joint venture, each of the partners is fully liable for the transgressions of the others.

The hospital itself cannot own stock in an insurance company such as Key Health – an essential part of the Tahoe Health Systems insurance plan – but can own stock in it through a third company, such as the joint venture board or an LLC.

“With the LLC we can stop liability at the LLC, rather than having it bleed through to other entities,” hospital counsel

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