October 2003

Insurers have not focused much on chronic pain. They should. It presents a humanitarian and business opportunity.
Martin Sipkoff
This may be one way to regain profitability, though getting permission from government regulators may take some doing.
MargaretAnn Cross
Physicians' well known reluctance to invest in office computer hardware and software is costing health plans money. How to get the docs' attention?
John L. Phelan, PhD
Maine's health care reformers are on course to deliver a controversial universal care plan. But is the coast clear?
John Carroll
Fallout from the Medicare outlier-payment scandal is likely to force hospitals to try to replace that revenue. Health plans, prepare to negotiate!
Ed Silverman



Departments
Editor's Memo
John A. Marcille
Legislation & Regulation
The outgoing mayor of Springfield, Mass., is taking on the FDA over his plan to buy medications at a discount from Canada.
John Carroll
Tomorrow's Medicine
Treating severe vesicoureteral reflux involved complicated, expensive surgery. Now an injectable agent that forms a valve can lead to normal urination.
Thomas Morrow, MD
Employer Update
Cooperation between three health plans has fostered better employer appreciation of early detection and intervention in kidney disease.
MargaretAnn Cross

Managed Care’s Top Ten Articles of 2016

There’s a lot more going on in health care than mergers (Aetna-Humana, Anthem-Cigna) creating huge players. Hundreds of insurers operate in 50 different states. Self-insured employers, ACA public exchanges, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid managed care plans crowd an increasingly complex market.

Major health care players are determined to make health information exchanges (HIEs) work. The push toward value-based payment alone almost guarantees that HIEs will be tweaked, poked, prodded, and overhauled until they deliver on their promise. The goal: straight talk from and among tech systems.

They bring a different mindset. They’re willing to work in teams and focus on the sort of evidence-based medicine that can guide health care’s transformation into a system based on value. One question: How well will this new generation of data-driven MDs deal with patients?

The surge of new MS treatments have been for the relapsing-remitting form of the disease. There’s hope for sufferers of a different form of MS. By homing in on CD20-positive B cells, ocrelizumab is able to knock them out and other aberrant B cells circulating in the bloodstream.

A flood of tests have insurers ramping up prior authorization and utilization review. Information overload is a problem. As doctors struggle to keep up, health plans need to get ahead of the development of the technology in order to successfully manage genetic testing appropriately.

Having the data is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. Applying its computational power to the data, a company called RowdMap puts providers into high-, medium-, and low-value buckets compared with peers in their markets, using specific benchmarks to show why outliers differ from the norm.
Competition among manufacturers, industry consolidation, and capitalization on me-too drugs are cranking up generic and branded drug prices. This increase has compelled PBMs, health plan sponsors, and retail pharmacies to find novel ways to turn a profit, often at the expense of the consumer.
The development of recombinant DNA and other technologies has added a new dimension to care. These medications have revolutionized the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and many of the other 80 or so autoimmune diseases. But they can be budget busters and have a tricky side effect profile.

Shelley Slade
Vogel, Slade & Goldstein

Hub programs have emerged as a profitable new line of business in the sales and distribution side of the pharmaceutical industry that has got more than its fair share of wheeling and dealing. But they spell trouble if they spark collusion, threaten patients, or waste federal dollars.

More companies are self-insuring—and it’s not just large employers that are striking out on their own. The percentage of employers who fully self-insure increased by 44% in 1999 to 63% in 2015. Self-insurance may give employers more control over benefit packages, and stop-loss protects them against uncapped liability.