Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for the 'Health Insurance' Category

Should patients pay high-cost sharing for treatments for the Hepatitis C Virus?

Treatments for the hepatitis C virus (HCV) are expensive.  At one point they cost over $80,000 per year, although costs have decreased since then.  To prevent moral hazard, should insurance companies rely on cost sharing to decrease utilization?  An article by Lakdawalla, Linthicum, and Vanderpuye-Orgle (2016) argues that they shouldn’t. Cost sharing appears even less efficient when […]

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The problem with step therapy

Step therapy is good in theory, but often not in practice.  In step therapy, patients are required to try one drug first–typically a low cost and/or high-value treatment–before moving on to more expensive alternatives.  In theory, this is a great idea.  The first drug patients should try should be the highest value one. In practice, however, […]

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Will payers pay for new healthcare technologies

Wearables, digital medicine and ‘beyond-the-pill’ are the latest healthcare craze.  New technologies–particular those combined with patients mobile phones–offer the promise of improving patient health.  One question is will insurance companies, the government and other payers actually reimburse for these technologies.  According to a recent FiercePharma article, the answer is yes…if there is evidence. Payers say they’re willing […]

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The End of the Obamacare Exchanges

Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt things so.  In an interview with Vox he states: The natural business model of a private commercial insurer is to price on health status and have the flexibility to raise prices year after year. What we’ve tried to do, instead, is do community rating [where insurers can’t price on how sick […]

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Physician Access in California Obamacare Plans

Health plans in the health insurance marketplaces have been competing to keep prices low, while still offering all the services mandated under the Affordable Care Act. One way to do this is to restrict provider networks to lower cost providers.   For patients, restricting provider networks may be a good deal if (i) the quality of […]

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ICER and drug prices

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Research aims to measure the value of drugs and aims to reduce the price of treatments that they deem to be low-value.  Is this simply an academic exercises, or are payers paying attention?  An article in CNBC sheds some light on the topic: Asked about that analysis, Miller said: “We […]

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Does comparison shopping work in health care?

According to a recent study in JAMA, the answer may be no.  High-deductible health plans aim to not only reduce the use of unnecessary services, but to make consumers more price sensitive and search for high quality, low priced care.  The latter goal, however, depends crucially on whether patients have access to information on accurate […]

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Is balance billing a good thing?

Are health care prices set on an open market? Almost certainly not. In many cases, physician fees are set by insurers. Currently, for instance, Medicare sets fees for physicians administratively. At Medicare’s inception, however, Medicare did allow physicians to charge whatever fees they wanted; Medicare would pay a base rate and patients would be responsible […]

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Is Obamacare working?

The answer is yes and no. According to a study Holahan, Karpman, and Zuckerman (2016), the health insurance exchange plans are good at insuring individuals against financial losses, but not everyone is happy with the care they are receiving. Low- and moderate-income adults with Marketplace coverage are no more likely to report problems paying medical […]

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VBID in practice

In a typical insurance plan, patients have a fixed copayment, insurance and deductible regardless of whether the treatment they receive is considered high or low value.  However, an alternative insurance structure–known as value-based insurance design (VBID)–uses a different approach.  Under VBID, patient cost sharing is higher for low-value treatments and lower or eliminated for high-value […]

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