Want medical care without quickly draining your fortune? Try Singapore or Hong Kong as your healthy havens.
A big shout out to Dr. Don MCanne for his Quote of the Day post Friday for today’s topic, and a belated shout out to him for his post last Tuesday about the gains from the ACA being reversed. See my post, ACA Gains Reversing.
This time, Don alerts us to the impact the new health economy disruptors will have and what it might mean for the push towards single payer health care.
Last month, the PwC Health Research Institute (HRI) released a report analyzing the new health economy landscape as more and more companies pursue acquisitions of companies in the insurance, pharmacy benefit management, health care services and retail spaces.
In the last six months, the report states, there has been an explosion of unusual deals between companies such as CVS Health buying Aetna, Cigna buying Express Scripts, UnitedHealth’s Optum buying DaVita Medical Group (Kidney disease and dialysis), Albertsons agreeing to merge with Rite Aid, as well as the much highly publicized partnership between Amazon, JP Morgan, and Berkshire Hathaway.
Naturally, these aren’t the only deals that have occurred. Last year, 67 deals occurred in the US health services market, including payers and providers, the report adds.
The value of these deals increased 146% over those in 2016. The US health care industry, the report states, is undergoing seismic changes generated by a collision of forces: the shift from volume to value, rising consumerism, and the decentralization of care.
The HRI identified four new archetypes of companies engaged in this new health care economy:
• Vertical integrators — CVS & Aetna, Optum & DaVita, Cigna & Express Scripts
• Employer activists — February 2016, 20 US companies form Health Transformation Alliance (HTA) and developed tools to help its members cut employee healthcare costs. In January, Amazon, JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway partnered to lower costs and improve employee satisfaction
• Technology invaders — Amazon selling over-the-counter medical products, offering discounted access to Prime service, Apple’s newest operating system allows users to access parts of their EHRs on their phones
• Health retailers — CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Albertsons and others using their network of store locations, consumer insights, national and global supply chains, and national (and sometimes global) branding to attract consumers looking for affordable, convenient care and goods
The HRI report recommends that all healthcare companies should make the following moves:
• Invest in customer experience
• Plan for a broader workforce
• Focus on price
This is how Don McCanne commented on this report. He wrote that Arnold Relman, like Dwight Eisenhower did about the military-industrial complex, warned us about the medical-industrial complex, but did not realize how intense the disruption would be in health care that the HRI report discusses.
According to Don, we are about to see a takeover by the disruptors who “have a leg up on many established health players in understanding consumers and tailoring experiences for them.”
The disruptors are “positioned to address price through greater scale, ownership of middlemen and a wider grip on the US health system value chain.”
If you don’t believe Don, then read what Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan said, “To attack these issues, we will be using top management, big data, virtual technology, better customer engagement and the improved creation of customer choice (high deductibles have barely worked). This effort is just beginning.”
This is exactly what the Waitzkin et al. book describes when explaining the methods used by the medical-industrial complex to control and direct the American health care system for power and profit of the members of the complex.
Dr. McCanne observes that it is almost as if the physicians, nurses and other health care professionals and the hospitals and clinics in which they provide their services have become a peripheral, albeit necessary, appendage to their wellness-industrial complex that is displacing our traditional health care delivery system and its more recent iteration of the medical-industrial complex.
In other words, the physicians and nurses and other professionals have become proletarianized, and the hospitals and clinics merely the places where the medical-industrial complex derives its power and profit from.
Dr. McCanne posits the following questions as to what the health care system would look like once the transformation is well along:
• Once the silos of the health care system are flattened, how will health care be financed?
• Will there still be networks?
• Cost sharing barriers such as high deductibles?
• Will it be possible to fund this expansive model of the wellness-industrial complex through anything remotely resembling an insurance product, especially when the insurers are being amalgamated into what was formerly the health care delivery system?
• And now that the plutocracy is in control, how could we ever remove the passive investors that extract humongous rents through the wellness-industrial complex?
• And what about the patients? Did we forget about them?
It is obvious from his comments that this new health economy is going to be more problematic for providing universal health care to all Americans and will only make things worse. His Rx is to begin now to move to a single payer, Medicare for All program, and not worry about what has passed.
Smart diagnosis and prescription.
It is amazing how experts in the field of health care are so wedded to ideas that are, with greater scrutiny, the real cause of the dysfunction and failures of providing health care to the citizens of a nation.
Such is the case with an article I found from the Commonwealth Fund, a well-respected organization in health care research, yet doubles down on the root causes of the crisis faced by the health care system in the US.
Late last month, Briggs, Alderwick, Shortell, and Fisher published the article entitled, “What Can the U.S. and England Learn from Each Other’s Health Care Reforms?”
The focus of the article was on the idea of Affordable Care Organizations (ACO’s), which in the US were established in 2010 under the ACA. According to the authors, both countries are currently working toward better integrating health services, improving population health, and managing health care costs. They also said that both countries are developing their own versions of ACO’s to achieve these aims.
However, the authors point out, by way of listing previous links to articles they wrote, that results so far have been mixed, patient experience (you mean like having a great time at Disney World, that sort of experience?) and some quality measures have improved.
Yet, financial savings, they report, have been modest and data on outcomes is limited.
On the other hand, across the pond, the English NHS recently created 44 Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) [Isn’t that what one puts in a motor car to make it run better?]
These STPs cover the entire country and are “place-based” partnerships of all NHS organizations and local government departments that purchase and provide health and long-term care services for a geographically defined population. They believe that organizations in STPs will work together to improve care and manage local budgets. Some payers are even considering American-style ACO contracting models.
Wait, if we are not having success with ACOs, what makes the Brits think they will do better? Interestingly enough, Himmelstein and Woolhandler, in “Health Care Under the Knife”, chapter 4, page 61, said the following when they were involved with drafting an new proposal for the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP):
“Recently, the emergence of huge integrated health systems incorporating multiple hospitals and thousands of physicians (so-called Accountable Care Organizations or ACOs), which dominate the care of entire regions, is causing us to again to talk about NHS models.”
So let me get this straight. We are not having much success with ACOs, yet, the Brits are moving in that direction. And the physician-led advocacy group in this country, the PNHP, that is pushing for single-payer, has been forced to consider models employed by the British NHS.
If that isn’t the definition of insanity, I don’t know what is.
Of course, the move towards ACOs in this country is due to the ACA and to the resurgence of 19th century economic liberalism, also known as neoliberalism, and its impact over the past thirty years on the American health care system. But in the UK, the move away from Labour Party socialism to the Conservative Party’s neoliberalism, is the reason why Britain is exploring the ACO model.
Maybe one day, both Anglo-oriented nations will wake up and stop believing in the fairy tale that the free market works for health care. It does for cars and other consumer goods, but health care is not a consumer good. It is a necessity of life.
Last week, I reported on an effort to create payer-provider partnerships, and said that it was another scheme to delay the inevitable move towards a Medicare for All, single-payer system.
Thanks again to Dr. Don McCanne for this week’s article from Modern Healthcare, on yet again another delaying tactic. This time it is from Congress, and while it purports to be “bipartisan”, it really isn’t, because they are very partisan in Congress today; partisan to the health care industry’s profit-making off of sick people.
Without further ado, here is the article in full:
IT IS HIGH TIME TO STOP WASTING TIME, WASTING ENERGY AND THE PATIENCE OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WITH “SOLUTIONS” THAT ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE, NOT BETTER. IT IS TIME TO EXPAND MEDICARE TO EVERYONE, WITH NO BUY-IN, AND BE DONE WITH IT.
After my last post on my personal health issue and the debate over the health care bills that now have been shelved, I thought I’d share with you the following article in its entirety that is just another scheme to delay the inevitable fact that we will need and have a single-payer, Medicare for All health care system.
The article came to me courtesy of Don McCanne, former President of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP).
Here is the article:
Healthcare DiveAugust 2, 2017Health reform driving payer-provider partnershipsBy Les MastersonPayers and providers have for decades stayed in their silos, leading to a more fractured and adversarial healthcare system. That relationship, however, is starting to soften for many in the industry. Payer-provider partnerships put the two groups on the same team in hopes of reducing costs and improving care and outcomes through sharing data and better communication.A major driver of these partnerships is the move away from fee-for-service payments and toward valued-based payments and population health management.The payer-provider partnerships popping up across healthcare vary in type, size, location and model. There are 50/50 joint ventures with co-branding, and less intensive partnerships like accountable care organizations (ACO), patient-centered medical homes (PCMH), pay for performance and bundled payments.The first step in these partnerships is building trust between payers and providers.Another key is communication. (Chuck Lehn, president of Banner Health Network) acknowledged that communicating across systems and platforms between two organizations and healthcare providers requires time, attention and resources.Caring for the whole patient works best when payers and providers share data, so there is improved care management, better interventions and better analytics around population health.The two sides can go much deeper into care for patients by going beyond claims. In partnerships, payers shouldn’t have to wait for claims to see how their members are doing and doctors shouldn’t have to hope that their patients tell them when they have received care elsewhere.In addition to regular back and forth, payers and providers need regular meetings, whether monthly or quarterly, that focus on strategic issues about the partnership, said (James Leatherwood, marketing communications manager at Availity).One barrier that still needs resolution in partnerships is moving providers away from phone communication.Leatherwood said a more efficient way is a queue system. In this system, a provider could check the status of all claims and get alerts when they need to provide more information. The system would allow providers to look in one queue, update the claims information and then move on with their day. Payers would have their own queue and would get alerts when providers have questions. This would reduce phone calls and create immediacy.Leatherwood said the healthcare system is stuck in a “chart chase” between providers and payers, and moving to an automated queue system would be a gamechanger.“I think in the near-term what we’re going to see is larger healthcare providers are going to be more strategic, working directly with payers. The health plans are going to be more interested not just in working with the staff level, but executive levels,” said Leatherwood.The third part of a successful partnership is aligning incentives that focus on keeping people healthy and creating a positive healthcare experience, said (Thomas Robinson, partner at Oliver Wyman).Partnerships must provide patients the right incentives, integration, investment, insight and innovation to work with the plan to deliver improvements across cost, quality, outcomes and experience, said Robinson.“The point of these partnerships is to create something new, rather than just building the same old offerings with a narrow network. Successful partnerships will take the opportunity to innovate around the product and experience now that the incentives, insight, investment and integration are all for it,” said Robinson.Aetna and Banner Health agreed on the partnership in October 2016 and have been laying out the groundwork before its launch this month in Maricopa and Pinal counties in Arizona. The two companies hope to expand the program statewide ultimately.To prepare for the partnership, Tom Grote, who became CEO of Banner/Aetna joint venture in May, told Healthcare Dive that Banner Health and Aetna have developed joint operating committees, including marketing/sales and population health, that include members from both organizations.The partnership looks to improve consumer experience by fully integrating providers, Aetna and administrative services, while eliminating redundancies in care and administrative problems. Aetna and Banner Health expect streamlining care and services will lead to savings for patients and employers.(Brigitte Nettesheim, president of transformative markets for Aetna) said the partnerships are about “each side playing to its strengths, aligning incentives and driving scale.”(Tom Leyden, director II of the Value Partnerships Program at BCBSM) said providers want to be active participants in system transformation.“This requires ongoing support from the payer and demonstrated evidence of practice transformation and clinic results from the provider community,” said Leyden. “Administration of these programs is an integral aspect of measuring performance.”Leyden said the payer strives to make the programs as manageable as possible because physicians need to perform many administrative tasks on an ongoing basis. BCBSM regularly solicits feedback from providers during quarterly meetings and phone calls, emails, webinars and in-person meetings on what’s working, what’s not and what needs to be changed.“If we keep the customer — the end user — in mind and build partnerships with that as our North Star, we believe we will have a more successful, efficient and collaborative health system,” said Grote.
Last week, some of my LinkedIn connections, as well as several other connections, learned of my recent hospitalization. The reason for this was not mentioned at the time, but I will tell you now.
Not having health insurance through an employer, and being denied renewal of a local county health care program, led to my going from Stage 4 to End Stage Kidney Disease.
The hospitalization last week was to place a catheter in me for peritoneal dialysis, and to repair an umbilical hernia.
My hospitalization was brought to light quite unexpectedly by my friend, Maria Todd. Maria’s sending best wishes for my speedy recovery and quick discharge from the hospital was much appreciated, and the warm words by others in response, and the thirty plus “likes” made me feel that people cared. For that. I am grateful.
But the events of the past month have brought home to me one very important point, given the current activity surrounding the so-called “repeal and replace” of the ACA, and the two Congressional bills that many consider doing more harm than good.
This nation needs Medicare for All.
There, I said it.
I know in the past, I have advocated single payer for others, but my illness has shown that anyone who loses health care for any amount of time, once they have reached adulthood, cannot go without health insurance.
This is what happens when men and women are removed prematurely from the workforce, for whatever reason, employer decides you are no longer wanted, economic downturn or just to eliminate positions that affect the bottom-line of the company, and are generally targeted to individuals in their 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s so that the company can save on health care costs for those employees, and so that younger workers can be hired to replace them.
This is not something new, and not related to automation and artificial intelligence disrupting whole industries, which is inevitable.
My initial view on single-payer was that if employers were no longer responsible for the health insurance of their employees, and they were guaranteed full coverage by the government, some of the job losses of the past decades would not have happened, and many talented men and women out of the workforce would be employed until their retirement.
If you don’t believe me, go to LinkedIn and read the many posts from such individuals who are still unemployed. One fellow in Texas even got turned down from jobs at fast food restaurants.
So, now it is personal for me.
I also know that many of you make your living from the health care system we currently have, and that some of you have expounded on why you think a single payer system is unrealistic.
I get it that your financial outlook depends on working in a broken, free-market system because it pays your salary, but healthcare was not supposed to be a business, nor was it supposed to marketed like any other commodity.
If you don’t believe me, read what Pope Francis said: “health is not a consumer good, but rather a universal right, and therefore access to health care services cannot be a privilege.”
But try telling that to Messrs. McConnell, Ryan, Paul, et al in Congress, and the current POTUS, all of whom want to eliminate medical coverage for millions of Americans they received under the ACA, cut back Medicare and Medicaid, and destroy Social Security.
Now that I will be receiving dialysis, and quite likely will qualify for disability, the prospect of not having those resources is very personal to me, and could literally mean my life.
Look in the mirror, then look at your spouse, your children, your parents, your neighbors, friends, etc. What do you think would happen to them if these programs were eliminated? Would you have enough money to care for them? Would you have money to pay for private insurance?
I lost my mother last month to dementia. She died on her 85th birthday in a nursing home some miles from my home (the home she and my father bought), but if the Republicans in Congress had gotten their way, and she had lived longer, I feared she would have been forced out of that nursing home, with no place to go, and would have been an even bigger burden to me.
So, I really don’t care if you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Socialist, Liberal, or Conservative, we all need health care at some point in our lives.
One of the friends I met here in Florida back in the 90’s died last July of a stroke. He was 73. He worked out, never smoked, had a good life, three kids, and like many of you, worked in Risk Management, as well as Human Resources, the legal profession, and served in Vietnam. But despite all that, he died prematurely, and went into involuntary retirement because he was in his 60’s. Luckily, his wife worked. But you get the picture.
We must all do our part to see that every American can get health care. Not just access to care, which is a Republican euphemism for being able to afford it, and if you can’t, too bad. But actual health insurance. Medicare for All.
So, medicine is a science right? If it is, then the delivery of care should be consistent across the country for patients with identical conditions, right. Absolutely not. That’s the quick takeaway from a terrific panel this morning at WCRI; … Continue reading →
Joe Paduda, blogging from the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute’s (WCRI) annual conference in Boston, has shined a light on where medical travel providers can prove that their lower cost, high quality medical care can produce better outcomes for both patients (injured workers) and their employers.
If what Joe says about a huge variation in medical care delivery across geography – why medical care for identical conditions for the same type of patient varies greatly from place to place is pervasive, fascinating, and, more to the point, driver of low quality and high cost care is true, then it would provide an opportunity for international medical providers to stress in their marketing that they do not have different kinds of treatment for the same type of patient, no matter where the medical care is received.
The rest of his article should give international medical providers a better understanding of how to attract not only patients (injured workers), but their employers and insurance companies.
Proving that, for example, disc replacement provides a better outcome than spinal fusion and is lower cost in your facility outside the US, will go a long way to convince both patients and employers and payers of the efficacy of medical travel.
Knowing that there is such a wide discrepancy in delivery of care across the US for the same type of patient and is responsible for lower quality and higher cost is a strength the medical travel industry can exploit.
What do you think?