Yahoo Finance reports this afternoon that “Health insurer Cigna Corp (CI.N), which announced plans to be bought by larger Anthem Inc 10 months ago, on Friday said the deal may close in 2017 rather than 2016 due to the complexity of the regulatory process, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”  The article indicates that an Anthem spokesperson advised that Anthem has not changed its expectations for the close — 2nd half of this year.  Regulatory review of the deal is ongoing. 

The FEHBlog for many years has been looking forward to savings generated by unbranded versions of specialty drugs, so-called biosimilar drugs. However, the Wall Street Journal reports today that

Generic drugs have long delivered huge savings over their brand-name counterparts. That isn’t likely to happen, though, with knockoff versions of some of the expensive drugs on the market today.
Rival versions of so-called biotech drugs, called biosimilars, are just starting to be released, and health insurers and drug-benefit managers say they expect them to cost nearly as much as the brand-name originals did for years.
One big reason: Pharmaceutical companies have been raising prices on biotech drugs about to lose patent protection to squeeze out more revenue before competition arrives, according to insurers, drug-benefit managers and pharmaceutical-industry consultants. And makers of the knockoffs are setting their prices just below those marked-up ones.

Quelle domage.

Hospitals and Health Networks reports that

The cost to hospitalize those with opioid abuse or dependence problems has more than tripled in a decade, up to nearly $15 billion in 2012, according to a new study published in Health Affairs this week. Similarly, the number of patients hospitalized for the effects of these drugs has surged by more than 72 percent, reaching 520,000 in 2012 (the year with the most recent available data), researchers with Harvard and the Veteran’s Health Administration found. Overall hospitalizations during that time, meanwhile, stayed relatively flat.

 Wow.  Cost curve up.

In that regard, Fierce Health Finance tells us that “Expanding healthcare price transparency didn’t prompt lower outpatient spending, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association” and that 

[Health Affairs] researchers call for increased education to raise awareness of the tools insurers have made available, saying payers should do more to engage consumers in shopping for the best price option.  While that may be easier said than done, the solution may lie in using providers as navigators for price shopping.

Modern Healthcare reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has performed its annual data dump on Medicare payments to doctors. Here’s a link to the CMS press release that may be more accessible.

To show that the FEHBlog is not a one trick pony focused on costs, he also points out Healthcare IT News reports on a Brookings Institution analysis offering cybersecurity tips to healthcare organizations.