One big story health care journalists can pursue this year is whether federal and state regulators will approve the three pending health insurance company mergers. If they approve the proposals by Anthem to acquire Cigna, Aetna to buy Humana and Centene to purchase Health Net, we’ll cover what concessions regulators will require and how the mergers will affect health insurance markets. Continue reading
Health insurers are trying a wide variety of methods to link drug costs to the value medications deliver to patients. Value-based payment strategies bear watching for two reasons. First, they are aimed at controlling the high costs of prescription medications, and, second, they could usher in new ways of pricing all medications.
The idea that insurers should link a drug’s value to price is not new, but it is gaining traction, at least among private health plans. One proposal calls for paying for drugs based on the quality-adjusted life year, or QALY, a measure used to quantify the value of treatment. Continue reading
America spends a lot of money on dental care – roughly $111 billion a year – according to a new study by the California Health Care Foundation.
Yet that figure was just a tiny slice of the nation’s enormous health care pie, which cost $2.9 trillion in 2013 (the most recent year available) according to foundation’s report, Health Care Costs 101: Reaching a Spending Plateau? Continue reading
A recent post by Bruce Japsen at Forbes makes a quick supplement to a post we did recently highlighting how hospitals are faring in Medicaid expansion states vs. nonexpansion states.
Japsen knows a lot about the business side of the hospital industry and has written about the ACA’s impact on hospital finance. Recently he’s been paying attention to second-quarter earnings reports of publicly traded hospital companies. (As he notes, it’s the sixth quarter since ACA coverage expansion began.) Continue reading
Anyone examining health insurance competition should look closely at a new report from the Commonwealth Fund, which indicates competition among Medicare Advantage (MA) plans is so rare that only one county studied is considered to not have a highly concentrated MA market.
After reviewing enrollment data in all U.S. counties with at least 10 residents enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, the report, “Competition Among Medicare’s Private Health Plans: Does It Really Exist?,” said that in the 100 counties with the most MA members, market power is concentrated among three big insurers in almost two-thirds of those counties. Continue reading