January 2005

PET, CT, MRI — these and other imaging technologies are valuable but costly. Aetna, Cigna, and a few other plans lead in clamping down on unnecessary use.
Maureen Glabman
Some of the nation's best health plans are coming up with creative ways to encourage women to get mammograms.
Sharon Baker
The private sector drags its feet over Ambulatory Payment Classifications. Here are some suggestions to move acceptance along.
Renee Leary, MPH
Dean Farley, PhD
The health plan was listing badly when Charles Baker boarded it in 2000. Since then, the ship has been righted and the way is clear.
Ed Silverman
Pay-for-performance (P4P) programs promise a fair shake for provider and plan, but a former chairman of the NCQA sees many design flaws to overcome.
Alice G. Gosfield, JD
The physician-author of “Overdosed America” says that health plans have a logical role in actively assessing the medical literature.
A federal agency fashioned to oversee drug research might inhibit the creation of new medications. The quest for profit in itself may generate benefit.
Martin Sipkoff



Departments
Legislation & Regulation
The $50 million needed for regional collaborations was not part of the federal government's budget. Not the end of the world, but not good either.
John Carroll
Tomorrow's Medicine
Natalizumab has received FDA approval. But as with all approved treatments, questions remain about efficacy and clinical importance compared to existing therapies.
Thomas Morrow, MD

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.