Friday
Jul282017

Health Care's Kodak Moment

by Kim Bellard, July 26, 2017

For those of us of a certain age, a "Kodak moment" connotes a special event that should be captured by a photo.  For younger generations, the term probably doesn't mean anything, because they don't know what Kodak is.  That's why, for some, "Kodak moment" has come to suggest a turning point when big companies and even entire industries can become obsolete. 

Health care could soon be at such a point.

Anthony Jenkins, a former CEO of Barclay's, recently warned that banks could face a Kodak moment soon.  He said they're already seeing a "Uber-moment," where smartphones and contractless cards are transforming the industry.  "The Kodak moment is completely different," Mr. Jenkins explained.  "That’s where customers realize there’s a totally better and different way of doing what they want to do, and the incumbent becomes obsolete."

In a separate speech, Mr. Jenkins elaborated that, due to new technologies, "we can imagine total transformation of the banking system."  He predicted banks have 5 to 15 years to face these challenges, or become irrelevant to their customers.

The "good" news, he added, is that: "Banks can avoid that, but they have to act now, and what they really need to do is think about innovation, but also transformation, doing something radically different."

For "bank" or "banking system" feel free to substitute "doctor/hospital" or "health care system"

Incumbents all-too-often grow protective and/or fail to take advantage of new opportunities.  The irony of disruption, Mr. Jenkins noted, is that it is "actually a great growth opportunity," and that "incumbents are best positioned to seize disruptive opportunities."  

Health care has a number of legacy problems that make it ripe for disruption.  Innovators look at these problems and see opportunities.

The opportunities -- or, threats, depending on one's point-of-view -- on health care's horizon are numerous.  They include:

  • Digital health makes real-time information and communication feasible, such as with wearables and telehealth.
  • Big Data will help us finally understand what is happening with patients and predict with better accuracy how we can manage our health.
  • Robots will take over health care tasks/jobs that humans either don't want to do or lack the required precision to do.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) will be able to make sense of all that Big Data and all the various research studies, and can serve to either augment or, at least in some cases, replace physicians.
  • 3D printing will allow us to replace an ever-increasing number of body parts, even systems, and do so with unprecedented speed and affordable cost.
  • Nanotechnology will allow us to monitor and maintain us down to a cellular level.

Meanwhile, traditional health care companies -- from providers to middlemen to manufacturers to insurers -- are waiting with some trepidation to see what 21st century behemoths like Amazon or Apple are going to do in their space.  

Disruption might come from innovators within the health care industry, but it might also come from unexpected sources -- and in unexpected ways.  Kodak didn't take digital photography seriously enough, and it certainly wasn't expecting smartphones as the new camera.  

Health should have a number of the old-fashioned Kodak moments -- the birth of a child, a miraculous recovery, achievement of a health goal, and so on.  Whether health care organizations or even the entire health care system suffer the other kind of Kodak moment depends on how (and when) they respond to the disruptive opportunities now available to them.  

Friday
Jul212017

State Employee Benefit Plans Provide Insight Into Overall Group Benefit Trends

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By Clive Riddle, July 20, 2017

 

The Summer 2017 edition of Data, Segal Consulting’s publication providing research findings on public sector employee benefits, presents findings from their 2017 State Employee Health Benefits Study. As states are one of the largest employers, and their benefit decision making is directly impacted by policy makers, monitoring the pulse of state employee benefit plans provides insight into benefit trends for group coverage as a whole.

 

Andrew Sherman, Segal’s National Director of Public Sector Consulting, tells us “health benefits have become more important to state leaders as the cost of coverage outpaces overall inflation, placing budget pressure on health plan funding and underscoring the need for ongoing cost-management efforts. Examining what other states offer can be helpful for these leaders when they make difficult decisions about potential changes in coverage.”

 

The 23-page issue exclusively presents their study which involved a review of the websites for all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the fourth quarter of 2016, capturing medical, prescription drug, vision and dental plan information, as well as wellness and tobacco-cessation programs, including 105 PPOs/POS plans, 83 HDHPs/CDHPs, 149 HMOs/EPOs and five indemnity plans.

 

One insight from the study was “there are stark geographic discrepancies to where it is offered. According to the study, 13 Southern States offer HDHP/CDHPs, compared to just two in the Northeast. They are offered in eight states in the Midwest and seven in the West.” This equates to 22% of the states in the Northeast, 76% in the South, 67% in the Midwest and 54% in the West offering consumer driven plans.

 

Single premium increases averaged 8% for HMO/EPO plans, 10% for PPO/POS plans and 14% for HDHP/CDHP plans. The average single monthly premium was $780 for HMO/EPO plans, $713 for PPO/POS plans and $563 for HDHP/CDHP plans. Single deductibles averaged $194 for HMO/EPO plans, $483 for PPO/POS plans and $1,997 for HDHP/CDHP plans.

 

For the prescription benefit, single copayments averaged $9 for generic, $29 for brand formulary, $53 for brand non-formulary, and $101 for specialty drugs.

 
Friday
Jul142017

Friday Five: Top 5 healthcare business news items from the MCOL Weekend edition

Friday Five: Top 5 healthcare business news items from the MCOL Weekend edition
 

Friday Five: Top 5 healthcare business news items from the MCOL Weekend edition

 

Every business day, MCOL posts feature stories making news on the business of health care. Here are five we think are particularly important for this week:

 

Millions More Uninsured Could Impact Health Of Those With Insurance, Too

Much has been written lately about how individuals’ health could suffer if they lose insurance under the health proposals circulating in the U.S. House and Senate. But there is another consequence: creating millions more people without insurance could also adversely affect the health of people who remain insured. Kaiser Health News. Friday, July 14, 2017

 

Senate Republicans Unveil New Health Bill, but Divisions Remain

Senate Republican leaders on Thursday unveiled a fresh proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, revising their bill to help hold down insurance costs for consumers while allowing insurers to sell new low-cost, stripped down policies. The New York Times

Friday, July 14, 2017

U.S. Charges 412, Including Doctors, in $1.3 Billion Health Fraud

Hundreds of people nationwide, including dozens of doctors, have been charged in health care fraud prosecutions, accused of collectively defrauding the government of $1.3 billion, the Justice Department said on Thursday. The New York Times Thursday, July 13, 2017

 

Nursing Homes Move Into The Insurance Business

Around the country, a handful of nursing home companies have begun selling their own private Medicare insurance policies, pledging close coordination and promising to give clinicians more authority to decide what treatments they will cover for each patient.

Kaiser Health News. Thursday, July 13, 2017

 

Fewer exchange plans available in 2018, CMS says

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released what it calls further proof the Affordable Care Act is failing in data showing a 38 percent decrease in the number of health plans available in the individual market for the upcoming open enrollment period compared to this year. Healthcare Finance News. Monday, July 10, 2017

 

These and more weekly news items on the business of healthcare are featured in the MCOL Weekend edition, along with the MCOL Tidbits, and more, for MCOL Premium level members.

 
Thursday
Jul132017

Medicaid Patient Satisfaction: High Despite Naysayers and Longer Wait Times

Medicaid Patient Satisfaction: High Despite Naysayers and Longer Wait Times
 

By Clive Riddle, July 13, 2017

 

The July 10 , 2017 Research Letter published in JAMA, A National Survey of Medicaid Beneficiaries’ Expenses and Satisfaction With Health Care, and authored by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health frames the issue like this”: “some policymakers have argued that Medicaid is a broken program that provides enrollees with inadequate access to physicians. While numerous studies demonstrate that Medicaid increases access to care, the literature has less frequently focused on patient satisfaction among Medicaid enrollees themselves. We analyzed a newly released government survey examining Medicaid beneficiaries’ experiences in the program.”

Co-author Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management at Harvard Chan School, tells us “the debate on the future of Medicaid has largely marginalized a crucial voice: the perspective of enrollees. Our findings confirm that Medicaid programs are fulfilling their mission to provide access to necessary medical care.”

The authors used the Medicaid Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and System (CAHPS) survey administered by CMS. Here’s their summary of results: “Medicaid enrollees gave their overall health care an average rating of 7.9 on a 0 to 10 scale. Forty-six percent gave their Medicaid coverage a score of 9 or 10, while only 7.6% gave scores under 5. Ratings were similar in Medicaid expansion and nonexpansion states (7.8 vs 7.9; P = .54). Ratings were slightly higher for older adults and dual-eligible beneficiaries, but similar in the fee-for-service and managed-care groups. Overall, ratings ranged from 7.6 to 8.3 across all demographic groups.”

Access was also addressed:  physician access, 84% of enrollees reported that they had been able to get all the care that they or their physician believed was necessary in the past 6 months, and 83% reported having a usual source of care. The mean percentage of beneficiaries able to get all needed care was significantly higher in Medicaid expansion states than in nonexpansion states (85.2% vs 81.5%; P < .001). Overall, only 3% of enrollees reported not being able to get care because of waiting times or physicians not accepting their insurance. Two percent reported lacking a usual source of care because 'no doctors take my insurance.'

This level of patient satisfaction comes despite a study published in the May 2017 Health Affairs: Outpatient Office Wait Times And Quality Of Care For Medicaid Patients which found Medicaid patients were 20 percent more likely than others to wait 20 minutes or longer, with the median Medicaid wait time for Medicaid patients 4.6 minutes past their scheduled appointment time, compared to 4,1 minutes for the privately insured. 18 percent of visits for Medicaid patients has a wait time of more than 20 minutes, compared to 16.3 percent for privately insured patients.

The concern stated with the study is the wait time would impact the Medicaid satisfaction rates measured in the CMS Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and System (CAHPS). Yet the new survey findings would indicate otherwise.

Medicaid satisfaction rates were also measured last summer, under a survey commissioned by AHIP, which found:

·         87 percent were satisfied with their Medicaid coverage and benefits

·         Medicaid managed care plan member had higher satisfaction with their benefits (85 percent) in comparison to those enrolled in traditional Medicaid fee-for-service programs (81 percent);

·         9 percent) said they are dissatisfied with their coverage; and

·         83 percent were highly satisfied with their level of access to doctors when needed.

 
Friday
Jul072017

Friday Five: Top 5 healthcare business news items from the MCOL Weekend edition

by Claire Thayer, July 7, 2017

Every business day, MCOL posts feature stories making news on the business of health care. Here are five we think are particularly important for this week:

GOP leader says he'll rework health bill, but offers Plan B

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he plans to produce a fresh bill in about a week scuttling and replacing much of President Barack Obama's health care law. But he's also acknowledging a Plan B if that effort continues to flounder.

AP News

Friday, July 7, 2017

States Move To Tighten Medicaid Enrollment, Even Without A New Health Law

No corner of the health care system would be harder hit than Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor, if Republican leaders in Congress round up the votes to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act.

NPR News

Thursday, July 6, 2017

CMS won't delay controversial managed care requirements

The CMS is moving forward with controversial provisions from the mega managed-care rule that expands federal oversight over Medicaid programs after refusing several states' requests to delay implementation.

Modern Healthcare

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Should GOP Health Bill Prevail, Say Bye-Bye To Insurance Rebates

If Senate GOP leaders have their way, the check may not be in the mail. Many consumers collected unexpected rebates after the Affordable Care Act became law, possibly with a note explaining why: Their insurer spent more of their revenue from premiums on administration and profits than the law allowed, so it was payback time.

Kaiser Health News

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

What Tax Breaks? Those Promised In GOP Plans Go Mostly To Top 1%

There’s much talk on Capitol Hill about the tax cuts included in the Republican health plans, but unless you are a frequent user of tanning beds or have personal wealth that puts you in the top 1 percent, you might not feel much effect from them.

Kaiser Health News

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

These and more weekly news items on the business of healthcare are featured in the MCOL Weekend edition, along with the MCOL Tidbits, and more, for MCOL Premium level members.