Thursday notes

Marilyn Tavenner, the current president of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the health insurance industry’s trade association, is retiring at the end of May. Her successor will be AHIP Chief Operation Officer Matt Eyles. Good luck to both of them.

The New York Times Upshot column has an interesting take on U.S. health care costs based on a new study published in the AMA Journal.

The quality of health care looks pretty good, [the study] finds, while its spending on social services outside of health care, like housing and education, looked fairly typical. 

When it came to many of the measures of health system function, the United States was in the middle of the pack, not an outlier, as [Harvard’s] Dr. [Ashish] Jha had expected. Many analysts have called for the country to shift its physician training away from specialty care and toward more primary care medicine, for example. But the study found that 43 percent of U.S. doctors practice primary care medicine, about typical for the group. 

It’s often argued that patients in the United States use too much medical care. But the country was below average on measures of how often patients went to the doctor or hospital. The nation did rank near the top in its use of certain medical services, including expensive imaging tests and specific surgical procedures, like knee replacements and C-sections. 

The data are consistent with other evidence that health care systems are beginning to converge, as information and technologies spread around the world among doctors and administrators.   

Becker’s Hospital Review reports that the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association has arranged for Lyft to transport Blue Cross members in certain zip codes to their local Walgreen’s or CVS Pharmacy.  
“CVS will fund Lyft rides to pharmacies for Blue Cross customers in Pittsburgh living within select “transportation deserts,” and in a similar pilot program in Chicago, Walgreens will pay for Lyft rides for members located far from public transportation.” Smart move.