MANAGED CARE July 2006. ©MediMedia USA
Initial bids are in and it appears that premium growth will be slowing even more in 2007, according to a report by Hewitt Associates. On average, HMOs are proposing to raise premiums 11.7 percent next year. The companies last year initially asked for 12.4 percent increases. Some experts think that the rate increases might wind up in the 7 percent to 8 percent range, which will make 2007 the fourth consecutive year premiums rose more slowly than the year before.... Certification guidelines for health care information technology are in the works. The guidelines are expected to be developed by a coalition of companies called the Continua Health Alliance, which includes IBM, Cisco Systems, Kaiser Permanente, and Phillips Electronics. Two goals will be that the technology meet interoperability standards and that it become easier for consumers to get reimbursed by insurers for using monitoring technology in the home, according to the Wall Street Journal.... New technology doesn't come cheap. Spending on specialty drugs rose 17.5 percent last year, according to a study by Express Scripts. The PBM says that spending on specialty drugs will reach $90 billion by 2009.... Some interesting legislation is under consideration that would increase the ability of health insurers to obtain a share of money awarded to employees in personal injury lawsuits. Under the plan, insurers would be awarded a portion of settlement to recover money lost in providing medical care. Currently, state and federal law limit insurers' ability to do so. Patient advocates worry that there won't be much of the settlement left for the consumer after an insurer gets what it considers its share. The proposal is in a House-Senate conference committee.