Mid-week odds and ends

Medpage Today reports on two interesting studies —

  • Better surgical outcomes significantly reduce hospital revenues, and 
  • Doctors become cost sensitive when they know the prices of the diagnostic tests they are ordering (duh!),
CVS Caremark recently issued its annual Insights report on prescription drug spending trends. 

In a pivotal finding, the 2012 analysis revealed that the increased availability of generics combined with CVS Caremark’s industry-leading generic dispensing rate (GDR) of 77.4 percent helped reduce spending on traditional medications by 3.6 percent for the company’s commercial clients (i.e., health plans and employers).

CVS Caremark’s industry-leading GDR is the result of two key elements.  First, 2012 marked a high point in the flood of generic launches, with the estimated market value of brands that lost their patents in 2012 exceeding $35 billion.  Second, CVS Caremark worked closely with PBM clients to maximize the cost-saving opportunities posed by generics as broadly as possible, using strategies such as formulary management and step therapy plan designs to encourage the use of cost-effective generic drugs. In fact, 70 percent of CVS Caremark plan sponsors use generic step therapy or are considering implementing it in the near future.

However, there’s one prescription drug which will not be going generic on schedule. The Hill reports that Food and Drug Administration sensibly has decided to delay approval of a generic version of the oft abused painkiller Oxycontin until the generic manufacturers perfect a pill that can’t be crushed or dissolved.

The Hill also reports that pressure continues to build for the repeal of two misguided ACA taxes — the 2.3% medical device excise tax which kicked in this year and the massive tax on health insurance premiums which kicks in next year. Both of these taxes carry a triple whammy because they are applied to gross income and are not deductible expenses for federal income tax purposes.

Finally Truven Analytics, a health care actuarial consulting firm, has issued a list of top 15 health systems in the U.S. Health plans check your network provider lists for these high performers!


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