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Companies launch their own healthcare reform

Having given up on Congress, dozens of companies have launched an initiative called the Health Transformation Alliance to change how their employees get healthcare.

Robert Andrews discusses the initiative in a piece in The New York Times. Among his comments:

“Rather than having individual companies contract with benefit managers, we worked with CVS and OptumRx on an approach under which we gain more access to drug companies’ pricing structures, strengthening our position in cost negotiations. That results in lower prices for the same medicines and allows the alliance members to achieve considerable savings. We also are working to ensure that formularies, the lists of prescription medicines covered by insurers, are the right ones for patients, not just the most profitable ones. This can increase the use of lower-cost generic drugs.”

“We and our employees spend more than $5 billion each year on four procedures and ailments: knee replacements, hip replacements, back pain and diabetes. These common problems account for 20 percent of the money our companies spend on treatment. Starting next year, we will create new medical networks in three major cities that will focus on delivering better results for these ailments and procedures at better prices. Our new networks are likely to compete with some doctors and hospitals that don’t have as good a treatment record. The health care arena needs more competition, and we will encourage it.’

To read this important piece, please hit this link.


Will UnitedHealth Catamaran purchase slow drug costs?

pills

This Wall Street Journal news story raises the question of whether UnitedHealth’s purchase of pharmacy-benefits manager Catamaran will really result in lower drug prices. Pharmaceuticals prices have become an ever-more important part of healthcare inflation, even as some other costs in the sector have slowed.

 

Catamaran will be merged with UnitedHealth’s own OptumRx unit. The WSJ reported that the combined benefits manager ”will cover an estimated 31 million lives.”


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