KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Some Heart Care Costs Stay Outside Insurance Coverage, Lowe’s Does National Comparison Shopping For Employees’ Heart Surgery

MarketWatch reports that though many tout prevention in relation to heart disease, "chances are your insurance won't cover a trip to a dietician, a gym membership or other services that could help you reduce your risk factors."

"Although most insurers cover coronary bypass surgery, angioplasty and stent placement, many don't pay for nutrition, fitness and stress-management counseling that could help patients avoid or delay such drastic measures in the first place, and time-pressed doctors tend to be perfunctory about such subjects." In the meantime, impaired heart function means people with heart disease must pay a lot out of their pockets over the course of the rest of their lives. "The best way to forestall a drastic change to one's lifestyle and keep costs down is downright cheap by comparison. … Healthy eating habits, modest exercise, weight control and stopping or ideally never starting smoking can prevent you from ever developing heart disease, or even if you are diagnosed, dramatically reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke" (Martin, 2/17).

In the meantime, hardware store chain Lowe's has decided to shop nationally for "the best deal in heart surgery for its employees and it landed at the Cleveland Clinic," The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. "The nation's second-largest home improvement retailer reached a three-year agreement with the Clinic. The deal was praised widely as a groundbreaking business effort to purchase health care based on documented quality and value. The move could spur others to shop far and wide for medical treatment. … Lowe's is offering employees incentives in the form of reduced out-of-pocket costs to come to the Clinic for heart procedures." About 100,000 employees in the U.S. are eligible for the program. They expect about 125 - who must be approved in advance - to take advantage of the program (Spector, 2/17). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.