News and Commentary

Headlines on Deadline May 2007

AARP will expand its relationship with UnitedHealth Group and create a new relationship with Aetna to provide health insurance plans designed to meet the needs of its 38 million members and others who are over age 50. The new program is called AARP Health Aid. The agreement with UnitedHealth Group will include Medicare supplemental insurance, Medicare Part D plans, indemnity insurance products, and Medicare Advantage offerings. The Aetna agreement will include a PPO and a high-deductible insurance policy that could be used with a health savings account. When the products become available next year, AARP will be the largest provider of private insurance to Medicare recipients.... Savings from using the mail order option offered by PBMs help the member, but results in minimal cost reductions for the insurer, according to a recent study in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy. Researchers at the University of Texas–Austin reviewed claim records from two state-funded health plans. "The savings associated with mail order don't necessarily filter down to the sponsor. In this instance, the member realizes all the savings," says Michael Johnsrud, PhD, RPh, an associate director of the Center for Pharmacoeconomic Studies, University of Texas–Austin.... Nearly two thirds (63 percent) of 450 major employers in the United States that cover more than 8 million employees plan to make aggressive multiyear steps to help employees improve their health by increasing education efforts, implementing condition management programs, and using data analysis and other cutting-edge programs to improve health and productivity while holding participants accountable for their behaviors, according to a recent Hewitt Associates study. Less than 40 percent plan to maintain their current focus on health care benefits — primarily concentrating on annual cost mitigation.


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