Alex Tolbert

Recent Posts

Three health care tools that will save you money

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Jul 16, 2018 @ 09:07

How to use price-shopping tools 

Have you ever tried to price-shop for your health care? While consumers are usually familiar with doing so when it comes to buying most goods and services, health care has been different.

Typically, it has been really hard, if not impossible, to get an accurate sense of what health care visits and services will cost you ahead of time. 

Health care pricing has traditionally been very opaque, but as deductibles keep rising, consumers are paying for more and more of their own care. As a result, consumers are increasingly trying to find cost and quality information before they schedule a surgery or pick up a prescription.

Fortunately, new tools are available to make this process easier. While shopping for health care still isn’t as simple as running a quick search on Amazon, there are some websites and apps that can give you a general sense of what you might expect to pay. Let’s review three popular health care price-shopping tools — Healthcare Bluebook, MDSave and GoodRx.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, surprise medical bills

Five questions to ask before having a medical procedure

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Jul 02, 2018 @ 09:07

How to make more informed medical decisions

When planning a medical procedure, making a well-informed decision is really important. While this is not always possible during an emergency medical scenario, having as much information as possible for elective procedures can help you get the best care, as well as avoid surprise bills or inflated charges.

You may not be able to get an accurate estimate of how much a procedure will cost ahead of time, but there are several questions you can ask to minimize your exposure to financial risk.

Here are five questions to ask before having a medical procedure.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, surprise medical bills

Online onboarding: What HR should look for

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 @ 06:06

How HR can improve the onboarding experience and improve retention

This column was originally published in HR Technologist.

A new study released by software company Digitate found that employees who had a negative onboarding experience were twice as likely to look for new opportunities in the near future. With the hiring market in the hands of applicants, many organizations are focusing on making improvements to their recruitment and retention strategies. 

One way to improve the new hire experience and retention is to use an online onboarding system, which reduces the administrative burden of bringing on a new employee.

But how should HR leaders think about comparing the different onboarding solutions? Here are some of the things you should look for when evaluating a system.

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Tags: BerniePortal, broker, onboarding

Two reasons why TriStar Health is investing big in orthopedics

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Jun 20, 2018 @ 10:06

Hospital competition and an aging population

Earlier this month, local hospital network TriStar Health announced a big expansion plan for its midtown campus, TriStar Centennial.

Included in the project is a $123.7 million plan to add four floors and a joint replacement center to the HCA Healthcare-owned hospital, expected to open early next year.

In announcing the project, TriStar representatives said the investments will allow the hospital network to meet the needs of the growing communities its hospitals serve.

Here are two other reasons the hospital network may be investing in orthopedics specifically, and hospital projects in general.

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Tags: healthcare, tristar, The Tennessean, healthcare costs

Why a higher uninsured rate means more expensive premiums

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Jun 06, 2018 @ 09:06

Premiums likely to rise in 2019

A new study by the Commonwealth Fund reports that the uninsured rate has been rising since 2016, and about 4 million more Americans are uninsured today than two years ago. 

One consequence of fewer insured Americans is that premiums will likely rise for the consumers who do continue to buy health insurance, beginning as early as next year.

We don’t know yet how much prices will increase, but we will have more information about this soon. Insurers have to decide this summer if they intend to sell individual coverage in 2019 and file with the state for any rate increases.

But before that happens, let’s understand why more Americans are going without insurance, and how that leads to more expensive coverage for consumers who do purchase health plans.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs

Three healthcare costs your retirement plan should address

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, May 21, 2018 @ 07:05

Plan ahead for healthcare costs in retirement

Planning for retirement? Don’t forget health care. According to Fidelity Benefits Consulting, a 65-year-old couple retiring in the last year will spend $275,000 on health care, not including long-term care expenses.

This can be a real surprise for some consumers. There is a misconception that once a consumer reaches Medicare eligibility, there are no more out-of-pocket health care costs, but that is not the case.

Medicare does not cover everything, so planning ahead for health care expenses is a crucial part of a comprehensive retirement strategy. Here are three health care costs that can affect retirees.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs

Healthcare tech: Why Nashville will beat Silicon Valley

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Fri, May 11, 2018 @ 06:05

The Silicon Valley model doesn't work in healthcare

Silicon Valley tech companies like Apple, Google and Uber are known for using technology in new ways to solve old problems, and sometimes, radically changing consumer behavior in the process. 

These three companies are reportedly pursuing health care investments, which could mean health care is the next industry to be disrupted by technology. 

Of course, these companies aren’t the first to tackle health care. Health care start-ups have been launched across the country, including in Nashville.

In fact, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Nashville’s business development nonprofit, launched a start-up accelerator focused on health care in 2016. Thirteen local companies were initially tapped to participate in Project Healthcare in 2017, launching solutions for everything from prescription drug abuse to health care staffing.

The advantage Nashville’s start-up community has over Silicon Valley is its depth of health care experience. Nearly 400 healthcare companies have operations in Nashville, contributing an economic benefit of $38.8 billion to the local economy, and more than $84 billion in revenues globally.

Nashville’s health care expertise gives Music City entrepreneurs a big competitive edge against comparable start-ups in Silicon Valley.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, healthcare costs

Network dispute leads to $14 million in balance bills

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Apr 25, 2018 @ 10:04

Patients could see balance bills soon

Are you covered under BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Network S? You may not have known that prior to this year, BlueCross had an agreement with HCA TriStar hospitals to provide emergency care at in-network rates, even though HCA TriStar hospitals are not a part of Network S. 

That agreement ended as of January, and the result is a $14 million headache that may soon affect patients’ pocketbooks. HCA has announced it will soon begin balance billing BlueCross members for out-of-network care received at TriStar facilities. 

What does all this mean?

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Tags: healthcare, aca, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, amazon, apple

Tech companies tackling healthcare

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 09:04

Is tech disruption coming?

Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google have revolutionized our lives. Many of us hail rides on our smartphones, run our homes with virtual assistants, and can have almost any item we need delivered directly to us.

But there’s one corner of the American economy that has, so far, held tech disruption at bay—healthcare.  Perhaps more than any other industry, healthcare has resisted the trends that have radically changed the ways we shop, bank, travel and more.

We still use paper forms at the doctor’s office, you still have to call to make appointments, competition has dwindled, and prices have skyrocketed. Sounds like an industry ready for disruption, right?

The above companies seem to think so. So far this year, several big tech companies have announced plans to tackle healthcare. While no single company could solve all of the healthcare industry’s issues, the companies are proposing solutions to different pieces of the puzzle.

Here are plans from Amazon, Apple, Uber, Lyft and Google to bring healthcare into the 21st century.

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Tags: healthcare, aca, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, amazon, apple

Health insurance market may soon split according to healthy, sick

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Apr 02, 2018 @ 07:04

Individual mandate changes to affect individual market


For most consumers, 2019 feels pretty far away. But in the insurance world, it’s practically right around the corner. In just a few short months, carriers will have to decide if they intend to sell individual insurance next year.

These decisions will be influenced by recent proposals by President Trump’s administration that would allow carriers to offer plans that don’t meet current Affordable Care Act standards. This could result in more coverage options outside of the ACA, but it could also lead to fewer options and premium increases for ACA plans.

In other words, these health policy changes could create two separate insurance markets, one for healthy consumers, and one for sicker consumers.

To see how this could happen, let’s look into the health care crystal ball and see how these health care policy changes might play out in Tennessee and elsewhere.

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Tags: healthcare, aca, rising healthcare costs, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, pricing

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