Looking Beyond Washington And Finding Much to Discuss

MANAGED CARE January 2010. ©MediMedia USA

John Marcille

The dominant health care news for months has been the reform legislation in Washington, and we cannot ignore it. But while we’ve done our share of reporting on this process, we know that there is plenty going on in the managed care industry itself that also deserves attention.

Take our cover story on cybervisits — consultations between physicians and patients over a secure Internet connection. There is growing interest in this, and for good reason. It is economical for plan and patient, allows physicians some flexibility in their work hours (and in some cases, extra income), and generally uses resources in a rational manner. We think cybervisits will catch on because there is little downside and many advantages.

Cost control is the theme of some other articles, too. One focuses on taming the incredible bills for neonatal intensive care (page 28); another discusses replacing the scattershot and overly costly service-by-service system with bundled payments — not a new concept, but one that is getting much more attention (page 42).

We also like the article (page 46) that lays out some of the disadvantages of the high-deductible plan design. We’ve heard a lot from the promoters of this design, and it does have its attractions, but we need to pay more attention to the perverse incentive that it puts on patients to avoid needed care.

Then, too, there’s our regular Plan Watch column. If you work at a health plan, as many of our readers do, you might want to read about how BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is helping a group of hospitals improve the capabilities the members of their boards of directors — a positive and productive effort.

And there are other great articles and columns that I don’t have room even to mention.

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