Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for the 'Managed Care' Category

The problem with managed care is…

Managed care, as the names suggests, aims to manage health care.  The goal is to identify high quality, low cost treatments in order to insure that patients get the best care while keeping premiums low.  While good in theory, managed care critics often contend that some of the stricter managed care policies reduce patient access […]

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Do narrow networks reduce cost?

Many health plans in the Obamacare health insurance exchanges aim to keep premiums down by limiting patients to a select group of providers (e.g., hospitals, physicians). The thought is, by limiting patients to a “narrow network” of providers, patients are in essence restricted to see the most efficient providers.  Some may claim that “efficient” means high quality […]

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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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Is reducing disparity enough?

A recent paper in by Martin et al. (2015) finds that Medicaid Managed Care programs in Kentucky reduced monthly professional visits. Further, the decrease in the number of professional visits was larger for whites than for non-whites. The authors conclude: We find evidence that MMC [Medicaid Managed Care] has the possibility to reduce racial/ethnic disparities […]

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ACA and narrow networks

One way for insurers to reduce health care costs is to restrict patient access to only lower cost providers.  This phenomenon is known as narrow networks.  On the one hand, narrow networks can promote efficiency by driving down provider price and directing patients to the highest value physicians.  Alternatively, if insurers use narrow networks to direct patients […]

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The Next Generation ACO

Medicare currently has two Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)–the more popular Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and the Pioneer ACO program. However, these ACOs have generated only limited cost savings. Only 11 of 23 Pioneer ACOs and 58 of 220 MSSP participants generated cost savings. To address some provider concerns and due to the limited cost […]

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A Medicaid ACO?

Medicare’s Shared Savings Program (MSSP) contracts with accountable care organizations (ACOs) to provide care for Medicare beneficiaries.  Reimbursement levels for these ACOs depends on quality and their ability to generate cost savings relative to the non-ACO national trend.  The goal is to align provider and payer incentives in improving quality and reducing cost. Would such a […]

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Who uses out-of-network providers?

According to a recent paper by Kyanko, Curry and Busch (2003), 8 percent of insured individuals used an out-of-network physician. Why are people using out-of-network services? The authors give the following breakdown. Approximately 40 percent of individuals using out-of-network physicians experienced involuntary out-of-network care. Whereas fifteen percent of outpatient out-of-network contacts were involuntary, almost 60 […]

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California: Mandatory Enrollment of Seniors and the Disabled into Managed Care

In 2010, CMS approved California’s “Bridge to Reform” waiver request that authorized the state to expand its mandatory managed care to seniors and people with disabilities covered by Medi-Cal.  Authorized under a Section 1115 waiver, the policy affected nearly 400,000 Medi-Cal enrollees, including 240,000 who were moved from fee-for-service into managed care between June 2011 […]

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Medicare Advantage Plan’s Response to Risk Adjustment

Medicare beneficiaries have the option to enroll in private plans to have them operate their benefits rather than use the tradiational Medicare Fee-for-services (FFS) program.  Medicare pays these private plans, known as Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, premiums based on the health status of their enrollees.   Medicare uses a risk score to measure beneficiary health status. […]

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