Why isn’t anyone talking about health insurance costs?

A couple years ago, we heard endless stories about how “Obamacare” premiums were shooting up, individual health insurance was unaffordable, and families were going bare because the morons that came up with the ACA screwed it up.

Now, with average premiums up 30 percent, we hear…crickets.

The reason premiums have gone up by about a third is simple; President Trump stopped the payments that subsidized low-income folks and insurers are scared he’ll stop enforcing the individual mandate. Unsurprisingly, many people dropped coverage, and insurers had to raise premiums because their risk pools worsened.  

Chart credit Charles Gaba, ACASignups.net

If CSR payments were still in place, and insurers assured the mandate would be enforced, premium increases would be less than half they are today.

What’s scary about this is how easily the media’s focus is influenced by outside efforts. Instead of informing us of this very real, and very important issue, the media is all wrapped up in arming teachers, death penalties for drug dealers, and Stormy Daniels.

What does this mean for you?

A reminder that all of us have to stay focused on the important stuff, not the shiny objects.



The post Why isn’t anyone talking about health insurance costs? appeared first on Managed Care Matters.

Article source:Managed Care Matters


Advocates raise alarm over language, omissions in new Title X funding announcement

About two weeks ago, federal health officials released a new funding announcement for the nation’s Title X family planning program, which serves millions of women each year. In the entire 60-page document, you won’t find the words “contraception” or “contraceptive” mentioned even once.

Article source:Science Blogs

Stuff that affects work comp

Here are a few of the events/transactions/deals that may affect the workers’ comp industry, along with my take on that impact.

First – Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs

Leaving aside the fact that China – Trump’s primary target – supplies just one-twentieth of all foreign imported metals, there are way more American jobs in other industries  that would be lost if the European Union and/or other trading partners impose retaliatory tariffs.  

Agriculture, autos, bourbon, bluejeans, and bikes are on the list of possible targets. Total exports amount to $1.4 trillion

Our cultural exports – fashion, film, music, sports – may fall out of favor as Asians and Europeans angered with Trump stop buying American.

My take – the Trump Tariff is going to cost jobs, unless it is quickly hollowed out by exemptions.

(an excellent discussion is here)

The Trump tax plan

First, if wages and hiring increase, as promised by the President, premiums will rise.

So far, that isn’t happening. The vast majority of the windfall is being spent on stock buybacks.  While this is inflating stock prices it isn’t going to have any material effect on the

With the added focus on deporting undocumented workers, industries that demand low-skilled workers for high-stress jobs such as meatpacking are often struggling to find enough workers. Jobs are usually filled with first-generation immigrants – as those jobs always have been.

Third, Employment changes.

The automation of both low-skilled and white-collar jobs is accelerating…over time many low-skill jobs are going to disappear – including burger-flipping, while white collar work including healthcare administrative jobs is being automated as well.

credit Daily Mail

The unemployment rate has improved  from 4.7% to 4.1% over the last year, while labor-force participation has remained flat (working-age people who’ve not looked for work).

Wages are up about 2.5% over the last 15 months, slightly more than inflation.

My take – hiring is strong, and wage growth may accelerate somewhat. This would generate more premium dollars over the near term. As Flippy and it’s relatives take over from Mary and Mike, we may well see average wages increase as there are fewer low-paid jobs available.

Enjoy the weekend.

The post Stuff that affects work comp appeared first on Managed Care Matters.

Article source:Managed Care Matters

Your baby isn’t that pretty. Really.

OK, got my cranky pants on today, so here goes.  I get about a dozen press releases a day, most of which breathlessly tell me about something I NEED to know about – like right now!

This is your baby in a PR release.

And of course, I NEED to tell you, dear reader, all about the new product/executive hire/office location/logo/study that is so damn important it makes North Korea’s nuclear threat totally inconsequential.

Like these…

  • Formaspace just unveiled a new virtual furniture designing tool that is going to shake up the world of office furniture procurement
  • I’m writing to suggest a story idea for Managed Care Matters on the top three “fake it till you make it” hacks for entrepreneurial millennials.

  • Below is VisualVault’s latest press release sharing the exciting news of their new Director of Healthcare Solutions, Kathy Biggers.

And those are just from today. Many are so far out of my (and probably your) area of interest it’s hard to imagine how they found MCM. I wish I knew, then perhaps I could hide from them.

I get it – the executive at company X thinks their news is really, really important. Ground-breaking. Game-changing. A Black Swan, Unicorn, or some other super-cool mythical beast. What they don’t get is the more they send, the less anyone pays attention.

A few suggestions…

  • Press releases should be about important stuff. Think of it this way; if you got your announcement from some random organization, would you care? Really?
  • STOP with the hyperbole and adjectives. The more hysterical you are, the less anyone cares.
  • Target your stuff precisely. DO YOU CARE ABOUT OFFICE FURNITURE?
  • Be brief, to the point, use short sentences and bullet points.
  • Personalize the release – use the addressee’s name and tell her/him why s/he should care.





Article source:Managed Care Matters

Big changes in work comp pharmacy spend

Sometimes data is so compelling you have to get it out there immediately.

CompPharma’s annual survey of prescription drug management is underway; here are quick takes from the first ten surveys.

  • 2017 drug spend dropped 13.4 percent from 2016 – the biggest decrease in the 15 years we’ve been doing the survey
  • Opioid spend decreased twice as much – over 26 percent.

Note that the huge drop in opioid spend occurred BEFORE adoption of formularies and other controls in big states like Pennsylvania, New York and California.

Note also that this is the sixth drop in drug spend since 2010.

Graph from last year’s Survey, Public version available for download here.

There are a few other newsworthy findings;

  • compound spend is down dramatically in most areas – but has spiked in a couple of states.
  • the decrease in spend is attributed primarily to lower opioid utilization
  • despite the big drops in spend, respondents (typically the executive at a work comp payer with overall responsibility for medical management) see pharmacy as MORE important than other medical service types…because pharmacy drives disability and return to work

This is very preliminary; we expect another 15 or so respondents and I’d expect things to change with more data. (if you want to participate and receive a detailed copy of the 2018 Survey Report, email Helen Patterson at HKnightATcomppharmaDOTcom)

What does this mean for you?

The work comp industry’s decade-long focus on pharmacy is delivering far better care and lower costs.

Article source:Managed Care Matters

What you don’t know WILL hurt you

Insular, self-absorbed, and unaware are three traits far too common in the workers’ comp world.credit Rational Faiths

When combined with lousy marketing and poor brand identity, the outcome is akin to life in the Dark Ages – nasty, brutish, and short.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned after decades in the healthcare and workers’ comp worlds.

  • Brand Is Everything.
  • Few executives in the work comp world understand this, some healthcare people do.
  • Marketing is NOT proposal writing, powerpoint production, or event planning…yet most “marketing departments” spend most of their time and too-small budgets doing just that.
  • There’s waaaaay too much “presenting” in sales – and waaaaay too little listening.
  • No one cares about your company, your products, your results, your story. Until they believe you understand their problem and have a potential solution.
  • There are several companies that charge high prices and deliver crappy results – yet they consistently win business because their brand images are strong.
  • Companies don’t buy anything. People do.  Just because your “solution” seems to meet a “business need” does NOT mean the person who has to say Yes will say yes.

So, a few suggestions.

  1. Figure out what your brand is.
  2. Invest in it.
  3. Do marketing – real marketing.
  4. Be brutally objective. Don’t blow smoke up your boss’s shirt – or your’s.

You’re going to have a spend a lot more dollars on marketing than you ever have, get your “marketing” people involved much earlier in strategic, product development, and sales, listen to what they say and likely change a lot of what you do.

This is going to make a lot of people really uncomfortable – and that’s good. Business people who are comfortable get complacent, and complacent people lose.

What does this mean for you?

It’s really hard, and most won’t be willing or able to do this.

But the ones that do will win.

Article source:Managed Care Matters