Category: Payers

Recon takes an analytical look behind select developments in healthcare

Context is King – When to use an Agile corporate strategy?

“Agile corporate strategy” (as defined in a previous post) is already the established the weapon of choice for small, early-stage innovators trying to re-invent their marketplace, where the product is the company and uncertainty is the hallmark new emerging markets.  Startups like agile strategies – often referred to a “Lean Startup” – because they effectively counter the scale advantage of incumbent competitors without requiring massive initial investment.  But contrary to the conventional wisdom that firms must abandon agility as they get larger and more complex, in the right market context

Read More

Mercy Health exits the insurance business and curtails ambitions for its state-wide provider alliance

Earlier this month, Mercy Health announced deals to dismantle HealthSpan (the former Kaiser business in northeast Ohio acquired in 2013), selling the insurance arm to local powerhouse Med Mutual, dissolving the medical group, and transitioning physicians to various northeast Ohio providers. 2015 was supposed to be a growth year for the business, but membership declined across lines of business, PMPM costs ballooned and Exchange risk adjustment obligations wreaked havoc with the bottom line ( HealthSpan is said to cover 160K lives total, of which half are risk with the legacy

Read More

Centene bringing a new managed care strategy to The Big House?

Correctional health and correctional pharmacy 2.2M people are incarcerated in local jails and state and federal prisons at any one time in the U.S. for whose healthcare various government agencies are responsible. This aggregate number hides some important segment differentiation (see table). Local jails are housing a little over 700K on any average day but typically for a short period of time (on average a month or less), implying over 11M people flowing through the jail system in any one year (boldly assuming few repeated tours). Less than a month

Read More

Ohio’s Mercy-Summa alliance grows contracting teeth

Mercy Health – the largest system in Ohio – has recently formed a Clinically Integrated Network (CIN) with Summa Health called Advanced Health Select. CINs allow separately owned provider systems to jointly contract with payers on a risk basis as well as invest in clinical systems to support consistent practice and joint accountability. The model offers some key advantages of affiliation (joint economics and investment) without the regulatory hurdles, governance challenges and business risks change of control usually entails. Mercy and Summa had two prior business relationships: First, Mercy holds

Read More

Working paper: the coming age of algorithmic medicine

Summary In this working paper, we develop the following thesis. In the not so distant future (a decade or two), medicine will be largely governed by algorithms — highly deterministic clinical pathways characterized by a high level of reproducibility of care — that will be developed and improved by providers. These algorithms will include individual patient preference branch-points but not individual provider preference.  As a result, payers and providers will agree on coverage on the basis of a set of algorithms and a process of how they should evolve; providers

Read More

Can convenience care be a platform for an insurance product?

Summary A Portland-based urgent care operator is launching a health plan from scratch The strategy targets the busy and healthy with the convenience of a retail network providing “store brand care”; a simple, consumer oriented service model at low cost. Carving out this segment can plausibly allow for sustained advantage in admin, medical cost and revenue management. The plan has hit a speed bump with regulators on pricing, so evidence of this model’s market appeal will come slowly. Convenience care has historically played nice with the ecosystem, but Oscar’s explosive

Read More

A sizeable step forward but miles still to go: CMS’ Next Generation ACO model

CMS has issued a “Request for Applications” describing its Next Generation (NG) ACO. The model makes progress on three issues that have generated plenty of analytical handwringing from MedPAC and the broader ACO community. It also signals a strategy to set ACOs up to compete more directly with Medicare Advantage (MA). (1) Enhancing predictability The Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and Pioneer ACO models had different approaches to solving the same business parameters. With NG, CMS has generally picked the ones which enhance simplicity and predictability (see table). For example,

Read More

Shifting lines in the mobile health competitive battlefield: Aetna makes a strategic retreat while United digs in?

The battle to own healthcare’s consumer relationship is being nowhere fought more intensely than in the mobile arena. Tea leaves suggest that Aetna has pulled back from trying to own this relationship in favor of a more collaborative “ecosystem” strategy, but United appears determined to lead. The thinking is speculative but I let me point out the emerging evidence and offer some guesses on what will come next. Strategy environment for consumer mobile health At the risk of oversimplification, let me offer six hypotheses regarding the strategic context for consumer

Read More

The “weaponization” of ACO narrow networks: Strategic destabilizers which compel their own replication?

In theory, narrow networks built around a single provider or a network of aligned providers (“provider-orchestrated narrow networks” or “ACO networks”) can pose a much higher stakes threat to non-participating providers than ones assembled solely by payers (i.e., where the payer picks who is in based on cost and rates): They are more likely to achieve broad utilization reduction because participating providers can align on principles, build shared capabilities and coordinate management of specific patients consistently. As a result, discounts can play a smaller role in creating a compelling value

Read More

Can drug companies make drugs, AND money?

In this morning’s New York Times (June 3,2014), Andrew Ross Sorkin asks,“DO drug companies make drugs, OR money”? That’s a fair question in the context of what I’ll call a “fee-for-product” reimbursement regime. Another way to look at this question is, “CAN drug companies make drugs, AND money”? Value has not been an easy sell As the U.S. healthcare services system moves from fee-for-service to a value-based system, the biotech and pharmaceutical (biopharma) industry should have an opportunity to capture more of the value it creates. But with drug costs only ~10%

Read More

Aetna not conceding the private exchange space to the benefits consultants

Summary Aetna is stitching its inventory of ACO deals into a national ACO network and will offer them on its proprietary private exchange (PHIX) Linking ACOs and PHIXs is smart because PHIX’s defined contribution feature creates a strong consumer reward for picking a tighter network product Promising a national network of ACOs is bold: ACO deals depend on willing providers and opportunity in local care patterns; in many geographies, the delivery system isn’t ready or interested. If Aetna can create a national network, it should be attractive to major employers

Read More

MA hospital relative prices by payer

Here’s a quick look at relative prices in MA using CHIA data for you to play with. What you could do for instance is select Commercial and Medicare on the left (use CTRL key for multiple selection) and then on the right, check off say only BCBS. That wold show you the difference between TMEs for Medicare and Commercial just for BCBS. Can also filter by hospital system (on the right). Have fun. P.S. You may need to scroll to the right or re-size on your browser (CTRL -) to

Read More

Cigna and Samsung: assembling a “global account”-based business model for mobile

Samsung and Cigna have agreed to a multi-year development alliance for health applications for the Samsung smartphone. The partners will initially focus on content (access to the health-related tips and articles Cigna already offers its customer base). Ultimately, the partnership will “connect individuals with caregivers, doctors and hospitals to improve health and wellness globally.” So far, the announcements have been silent on any exclusivity. In our view, the content deal is a sideshow: health and wellness tips are highly commoditized and an insurer an undifferentiated supplier for this content. I

Read More

Marrying into the right family: the bets underlying United’s revenue cycle management joint venture with Dignity Health

Market for outsourced revenue cycle management could be big The revenue cycle management (RCM) vendor industry is about $2.0B for hospitals and $11 billion for physicians today. The market is constrained because most providers do their own RCM. Vendors only have a ~10% penetration among hospitals and a 25% penetration among physicians (implying that the potential combined hospital and physician market is $60-70B). However, RCM as a function is getting more complex and outsourcing could quickly start looking more attractive: Value-based contracting models raising the stakes in documentation, reporting, benchmarking,

Read More

Strategic “crowd-out” via narrow networks: an emerging case study in Wisconsin

Last week, I argued that, if payers want to secure competitive advantage from improved provider care, they would need tighter, more exclusive alignments with these providers to “crowd out” the free riders (the “free riders” in this case are the other payers who have members being treated by the same providers and who can therefore share in any improvements). Two deals last week suggest a case study of the concept may be developing in southeastern Wisconsin: On September 9, Anthem announced that it will be teaming up with highly ranked

Read More

ACO proliferation and provider “all-payer” care models inexorably lead to tighter network strategies

A new study in JAMA (by McWilliams et al.) looks at the Medicare expenditures of patients seeing providers enrolled in the BCBS of Massachusetts version of the ACO (Alternative Quality Contract or “AQC”). The AQC model covers only commercial lives and all of the relevant providers had FFS reimbursement from Medicare during the time of the study (several later became ACO Pioneers). The study tests whether providers rewarded to be more efficient for one pool of patients (BCBCMA commercial HMO lives) will take the same approach to care with other

Read More

Making flanks something for the enemy to worry about: the Cleveland Clinic-Promedica deal and the emerging battle for northern Ohio

Summary Earlier this year, Catholic Health Partners, the largest provider in Ohio, signed two deals which put it on a competitive collision course with Cleveland Clinic Cleveland Clinic has few options to further solidify its already strong position inside Cleveland, so it had to look elsewhere for a competitive response  With a clinical affiliation with Promedica, Cleveland Clinic can competitively threaten Catholic Health Partners in Toledo / northwest Ohio If Cleveland Clinic’s relationship with Promedica matures into a full affiliation, they could acquire Promedica’s Ohio insurance license, opening a whole

Read More

Could the Employer Mandate lead to reduced coverage?

When it comes to employee benefits, employers need to be generous either to attract and retain talent or because it is “the right thing to do”. The recession and jobless recovery has unquestionably reduced the first imperative and it appears now that the employer mandate penalty may perversely be gutting the second. Why? A classic paper in the Journal of Legal Studies (Gneezy, Rustichini 2005) looked at the impact of introducing fines for parents who were late to pick up their kids at daycare centers. Lateness INCREASED. Subsequently when the

Read More

Ambidextrous strategy: PART 2 – Scenario Implications

In our last post we introduced two potential scenarios. “Provider bastions” in which buyers of health care services select upfront the network that they will trust to deliver their care in a coordinated manner.  “Value-based deconstruction” in which buyers of healthcare choose the site-of-service for every interaction with the delivery system based on incentives built on micro level information about value – outcomes and cost.  Obviously there are factors unique to firms that will have a tremendous impact on optimal strategic choices for them. All we do here is raise

Read More

Ambidextrous strategy: PART 1 – Payer and provider strategy for two very different worlds

It seems like every day there’s some news outlining strategic actions that various players are taking or other developments with respect to health reform. Here’s a sample of recent news: Employer adopts a tightly limited provider network  Customers sign on to private exchange Hospital chain grows through acquisition Insurers boycott state exchange Health systems drop out of ACOs Payer collaborates with provider systems to target Medicaid population All of these represent choices or “bets” that firms are making based on a view of a healthcare world facing clear trends. More

Read More