VA vs. private hospitals

How do efficiently is care provided for patients at Veteran Affairs’ hospitals as compared to private hospitals? This is not an easy question to answer as the composition of patients differs between these hospitals. Even among dually-eligible individuals–those with both VA and commercial insurance–individuals treated at VA hospitals are generally more severely ill. To better…

ICER’s 2022 “Barriers to Fair Access Assessment” Protocol

How does ICER plan to determine whether health plans offer fair access to pharmaceuticals? I summarized their approach last year as outlined in their white paper titled “Cornerstones of ‘Fair’ Drug Coverage: Appropriate Cost-Sharing and Utilization Management Policies for Pharmaceuticals.” Last month, final protocol for their “Barriers to Fair Access Assessment“. While the approach follows…

How can physicians earn a ‘gold card’?

Prior authorization is a pain. A paper by Howell et al. (2021) found that the total cost of various utilization management schemes is $93.3 billion of which physicians devote $26.7 billion worth of time to navigate utilization management systems. Payers would argue that prior authorization helps to control costs and stop the prescribing of unnecessary…

Preferred Pharmacies in Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D plans have begun using preferred pharmacy networks in order to steer their beneficiaries to lower cost pharmacies. A key question is, does this work? A paper by Xu et al. (2022) aims to answer this question using 2011-2016 data. that compares Low Income Subsidy (LIS) Medicare beneficiaries and non-LIS beneficiaries. LIS beneficiaries…

When is full health insurance not optimal

In many markets, however, we observe that lower income individuals do not purchase the most generous forms of health insurance. For instance, despite the passage of the Affordable Care Act–which provided subsidies to lower income individuals to purchase relatively generous insurance–some individuals preferred the less generous Association Health Plans (AHPs) also known as “skinny” health…