A report issued by the Kaiser Family Foundation evaluates the level of insurance protection that consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs) provide women for maternity care. The study provides an estimate of maternity costs under three different clinical scenarios — an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, an uncomplicated Cesarean delivery, and a pregnancy with considerable complications — and compares the level of coverage offered by one traditional insurer and 12 CDHPs in the group and individual markets.

"Childbirth is the most common reason for hospitalization in the United States," says Alina Salganicoff, PhD, vice president and director of Women's Health Policy at Kaiser Family Foundation. "You could have a healthy, young woman who has a very complicated and costly childbirth experience. The cost, in this example, would be difficult to predict."

According to the report, members could be left with thousands of dollars of expenses from maternity care even with an uncomplicated birth, resulting from the high deductibles and cost-sharing requirements of these CDHPs. This can be attributed to the variation in the deductibles, cost sharing requirements, and out-of-pocket maximums among CDHPs.

And while CDHPs often exempt preventive services from the deductible or copayments, all 12 of the CDHPs reviewed did not consider prenatal care a preventive service. "Many of the plans say that they exclude preventive care from the deductible, but prenatal care was not considered a preventive service, which was a surprising finding to us," says Salganicoff.

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.