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Entries in Finance (18)

Friday
Sep202019

Health Plan Medical Ratio and Administrative Expense Snapshots

by Clive Riddle, September 20, 2019

Two reports on health plan performance were released this week:  Mark Farrah Associates issued an analysis brief providing insights into mid-year profitability for commercial and government lines of health insurance business entitled: Health Insurance Segment Mid-Year 2019 Profitability; and Sherlock Company's September 2019 Plan Management Navigator summarized cost trends among Medicare-focused plans.

Key findings from the Mark Farrah report on health plan profitability include:

  • At the end of second quarter 2019, the average medical expense ratio for the Individual segment was 73.9%, as compared to 69.0% the previous year.
  • Growth in medical expenses pushed the average medical expense ratio for the Employer-Group segment up to 81.4% for 2Q19 from 80.5% in 2Q18.
  • For Medicare Advantage, premium growth outpaced increases in medical expenses pushing the medical expense ratio down to 84.7% from 85.5% in 2Q18.
  • An increase of 9.7% in medical expenses per member per month pushed the medical expense ratio for Managed Medicaid up to 92.0% from 88.8% in 2Q18.

Their report concludes “at mid-year 2019, all four health care segments are signifying reduced levels of profitability for health insurers over 2018.  Due to the minimum MLR constraints placed upon the individual segment, the stagnation of premium growth along with the rise in the mid-year med expense rations is not surprising, especially after the underwriting gains reaped in 2018.”

While Mark Farah Associates focused on profitability driven by medical expenses, Sherlock Company reported on administrative expenses and found that “for 2018, Medicare-focused plans experienced administrative cost growth, excluding Miscellaneous Business Taxes, of 6.4%. Account and Membership Administration [expenses were] also trending higher in 2018 at 7.0%, up from last year’s increase of 3.7%.

For Medicare-focused plans, they found “High cost Medicare Advantage grew at a median rate of 4.1%, Medicare SNP grew at a median rate of 5.7%, while low cost Medicaid increased at a median rate of 1.1%. The Commercial Insured product membership fell by a median rate of 2.1%, while Commercial ASO grew at a median rate of 3.5%. Overall, commercial membership decreased by 1.9%. Comprehensive membership in continuous plans fell by a median rate of 1.5%.

Friday
Sep202019

Health Plan Medicare Ratio and Administrative Expense Snapshots

by Clive Riddle, September 20, 2019

Two reports on health plan performance were released this week:  Mark Farrah Associates issued an analysis brief providing insights into mid-year profitability for commercial and government lines of health insurance business entitled: Health Insurance Segment Mid-Year 2019 Profitability; and Sherlock Company's September 2019 Plan Management Navigator summarized cost trends among Medicare-focused plans.

Key findings from the Mark Farrah report on health plan profitability include:

  • At the end of second quarter 2019, the average medical expense ratio for the Individual segment was 73.9%, as compared to 69.0% the previous year.
  • Growth in medical expenses pushed the average medical expense ratio for the Employer-Group segment up to 81.4% for 2Q19 from 80.5% in 2Q18.
  • For Medicare Advantage, premium growth outpaced increases in medical expenses pushing the medical expense ratio down to 84.7% from 85.5% in 2Q18.
  • An increase of 9.7% in medical expenses per member per month pushed the medical expense ratio for Managed Medicaid up to 92.0% from 88.8% in 2Q18.

Their report concludes “at mid-year 2019, all four health care segments are signifying reduced levels of profitability for health insurers over 2018.  Due to the minimum MLR constraints placed upon the individual segment, the stagnation of premium growth along with the rise in the mid-year med expense rations is not surprising, especially after the underwriting gains reaped in 2018.”

While Mark Farah Associates focused on profitability driven by medical expenses, Sherlock Company reported on administrative expenses and found that “for 2018, Medicare-focused plans experienced administrative cost growth, excluding Miscellaneous Business Taxes, of 6.4%. Account and Membership Administration [expenses were] also trending higher in 2018 at 7.0%, up from last year’s increase of 3.7%.

For Medicare-focused plans, they found “High cost Medicare Advantage grew at a median rate of 4.1%, Medicare SNP grew at a median rate of 5.7%, while low cost Medicaid increased at a median rate of 1.1%. The Commercial Insured product membership fell by a median rate of 2.1%, while Commercial ASO grew at a median rate of 3.5%. Overall, commercial membership decreased by 1.9%. Comprehensive membership in continuous plans fell by a median rate of 1.5%.

Friday
Sep062019

New Changes in Health Care Executive Pay

The Spring 2019 issue of Warren Salary Surveys is published and there are some interesting findings highlighted here.

 

Warren is the oldest and largest survey of its kind reporting 600 positions in the health care industry. Large and small health plans, health systems and ACOs are reporting their data every 6 months and the data includes salary, bonus by region and by size and type of plan.

 

This week saw a report of a large health system in the southwest began to move bonus payments in line with patient engagement. By using HCAPS score improvement as well as patient complaint resolution and satisfaction scoring to create a base formula for bonus pay, the health system is moving towards a more patient centric incentive system.

 

Signaling further changes in the health care compensation programs offered by Accountable Care Organizations and Health Maintenance Organizations, Warren is observing an increase in compensation for positions such as financial analysts representing a 3.32% increase over 2018 to $68,859 and Underwriters moving to $66,749 as an average reported nationally by over 160 plans over the past year (Collected in spring 2019).

 

VP of Planning and Development saw a large jump of 5% to $243,181.00 over last year, perhaps revealing more focus on new markets and new products. In the medical management departments, there was an increase in pharmacy service coordinator to $52,457, underscoring for many health plans the need to better manage pharmacy costs especially for Medicare Advantage patients.

 

The biggest gain was in the position of Clinical Informaticist: a 13% gain to a salary averaging $105,778. These people are very hard to find and several organizations have started to create an internal training program to move some of their health information specialists into affiliated support roles to learn the clinical informatics discipline and support the lead informatics person.

 

Finally, the newer lead executive positions in Accountable Care Organizations CEO show an average salary of $269,575 with a range of $211,911 in the mountain states to $356,888 in the northeast. The majority of the ACOs reporting were not-for-profit with an average of $280,953 salary. At this point few bonuses have been calculated for the ACO chief executive, but Warren sees the above formula of measuring patient engagement improvements to be a very new but a meaningful way for ACO Boards of Directors and managers to consider these types of incentives to attract and retain talented ACO executives who continue to be elusive in the marketplace.

 

Further information can be obtained at: www.warrensurveys.com

Friday
Mar302018

Wal-Mart and Humana: How Healthcare on Wall Street Imitates Hollywood

Wal-Mart and Humana: How Healthcare on Wall Street Imitates Hollywood
 

 

By Clive Riddle, March 30, 2018

Hollywood notoriously chases a hot movie trend with much more of the same – imitation being the most sincere form of flattery.  Wall Street when it comes to healthcare continues to flatter Hollywood by imitating this strategy as best they can.

 

In the 1980s, public hospital companies rushed to acquire health plans. They subsequently rushed to spin-off or otherwise unload them. That’s how Humana become just a health plan company. In the 1990’s, the PPM industry was born as integrated delivery systems where split up, giving birth to PhyCor an others who subsequently flamed out.

 

More recently, on the heels of ACA implementation, the mantra was to increase clout to succeed in the Marketplaces and expanding Medicaid and Medicare Advantage programs. Aetna announced the Humana acquisition and Centene announced the HealthNet acquisition within a day of each other in early July 2015. Three weeks later Anthem announced the Cigna acquisition.

 

Then in February 2017, Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna separately announced on the same day the death of their proposed mergers, thanks to DOJ opposition, and in Anthem-Cigna’s case, merger indigestion. Additionally, the new Trump administration and Republication Congress’ zeal for Repeal made the merger’s marketplace strategy seem moot.

 

But a year later a new blockbuster movie formula has developed. There is Amazon style retail market disruption looming over the pharmacy sector in particular but the rest of healthcare as well, and the specter of the mysterious Amazon-BershireHathaway-JPMorgan healthcare venture. There is the outcry over pharmaceutical costs, and the questioning of the PBM sector’s role.  From this backdrop the CVS-Aetna merger emerges in early December.  Then early this month Cigna announces their Express Scripts acquisition.

 

And now the Wall Street Journal and many others report Walmart is in early stage acquisition talks with Humana. WSJ notes the annual revenue of WalMart is $500 billion and Humana’s is $54B, compared to $185B fir CVS, $61B for Aetna, $42B for Cigna and $100B for Express Scripts.

 

Will the Walmart-Human movie deal get inked? Will any of these new projects make it through production and get released? And what sequels and similar projects are under development?

 
Friday
Oct272017

CVS, Aetna, Retail Integrated Delivery Systems and the Strange World of Frenemies

by Clive Riddle, October 27, 2017

As widely reported, including in the Wall Street Journal, CVS is making a very serious bid to acquire Aetna for more than $200 a share, equating to $66 billion. The most often cited drivers behind this deal include:

  • CVS’s strategic response to Amazon’s potential entry into the pharmacy business
  • CVS strategic response seeking growth outside core business, after antitrust regulators rejected Walgreens/Rite Aid merger
  • Aetna strategic response seeking growth outside core business after antitrust regulators rejected Aetna/Human and Anthem/Cigna mergers
  • Aetna would serve as significant source of members for CVS PBM division, customers for CVS pharmacies and patients for Minute Clinics
  • CVS and Aetna’s strategic response to competitors aligning health plans and PBMs such as UnitedHealth acquisition of Catamaran

Much attention has been given to initiatives for integrated delivery systems between hospitals and medical groups that take on purchaser functions. Does this signal a different focus – on retail integrated instead of clinically integrated systems - bringing together pharmacies, retail clinics, health care coverage, wellness services, patient engagement and care coordination?

But Wall Street experts remind us that doesn’t mean this deal is a sure thing.  Things could fall apart simply due to details in the financial terms, or because of new changes in direction by competitors or in the overall market. The Street quotes Jeremy Bryan, a portfolio manager at Gradient Investments, a minor CVS shareholder: "There's just no case study for this. There could be regulatory hurdles. But we have cautious optimism." The Wall Street Journal states “The deal almost surely would attract close scrutiny from U.S. antitrust enforcers who have expressed concern about health-care consolidation.”

Assuming however there is a clear path forward for CVS and Aetna, the question remains for them what lies in wait for them down the road? A few potential concerns include:

  • Would the deal jeopardize the recently announced Anthem/CVS relationship whereby CVS will service Anthem’s new PBM?
  • Would the deal drive other competing health plans away from the CVS PBM and pharmacies?
  • What if CVS is counting on Aetna becoming a more significant force in Medicare Advantage to drive CVS PDP business, and Aetna fails to deliver?
  • What if the Trump Administration and Republican Congress succeed in further scaling back Medicaid, causing Aetna’s significant investment in Medicaid business to erode and become a drag on CVS overall performance?
  • What if Aetna focuses its pharmacy and retail clinic network offerings on CVS locations, and loses market share to competitor plans with broader offerings?

On the other hand, maybe the deal wouldn’t cause competitors to blow up relationships with CVS or Aetna. The Washington Post quotes Adam Fein, president of Pembroke Consulting: “This is part of the strange world of the health insurance and PBM industry. Many companies are frenemies.”