Update

May 18, 2007

Professional and financial news you can use

TECHNOLOGY

E-prescribing: Not out of the woods yet

Women: Losers in high-deductible plans

Women between the ages of 18 and 64 spend an annual median of $1,844 per capita on healthcare, nearly $1,000 more than men do, says a study by Harvard Medical School researchers. That means that high-deductible health insurance plans, which generally hold individual patients responsible for at least $1,100 in medical bills before coverage kicks in, will be a bigger financial burden for women. Families must meet a $2,200 deductible, though if adequately funded a health savings account linked to the high-deductible insurance plan can cover part of the deductible. The same holds true for individuals.

The gender difference is even more striking among younger adults, ages 18 through 44. Median expenses for women are $1,266, nearly three times higher than for men, at $463. The reason is simple, say researchers: Women bear children and need Pap tests, breast exams, and prenatal care.

HEALTHCARE FACILITIES

Hospitals say doctors are less profitable

The average physician generated nearly $1.5 million in net revenue a year for affiliated hospitals, down from more than $1.8 million three years ago, says Merritt, Hawkins and Associates. At least part of the decline could be attributed to freestanding surgery centers and other facilities that compete with hospitals for elective and other procedures, says the physician search firm, which last conducted the survey in 2004. The survey didn't ask respondents why the revenue figures went down.

In terms of primary care's share of the revenue pie, internists generated slightly under $2 million a year, down from $2.1 million in 2004 (a 4.8 percent drop); FPs slipped to $1.6 million from $2 million (–20 percent); and pediatricians went from $860,600 to roughly $700,000 (–18.6 percent).

RETIREMENT

How are your savings going?

Only a quarter of baby boomers say they've reached their retirement savings goals, or are on track to do so, says MetLife's annual survey of employee benefits. Nearly 30 percent of those ages 41 to 60 say they're "somewhat" behind in reaching their savings goals, while 27 percent report being "significantly" behind. The results are better for pre-retirees ages 61 or older: Almost four in 10 say they're on track to putting away enough for retirement, if not already there.

CREDIT CARDS

Don't get soaked when charging overseas

That fabulous Paris original could end up costing you an extra 3 percent if you don't pull out the right card at the cash register. International transaction fees charged by the major credit card issuers range from 0 to 3 percent-on top of the standard 1 percent fee charged by Visa and MasterCard, says a survey conducted by IndexCreditCards.com, an online source for credit card information.