Tuesday’s Tidbits

The 2018 Milliman Medical Index was recently published.

Bad news: The MMI increased by $1,222 from 2017 to 2018.  For more than 10 years now, the MMI has been increasing at an average of just over $100 per month.
Good news: At 4.5%, the MMI’s annual rate of increase is nearly the lowest in 18 years. Only last year was lower, at 4.3%. Over the 18 years since the MMI was first measured in 2001, the annual rate of increase has averaged 7.4%. But for eight years in a row now, the rates have been below that average. As discussed later in this report, although the MMI’s dollar amount continues to grow, the rate at which it grows is clearly slowing.

While the MMI rate increase is slowing, the rate remains well above the CPI-U inflation rate, which most recently was up 2.5% annually.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, MD (R LA) issued a eight page long description of sensible policy changes that would make health care more affordable. Embedded in the good Senator’s paper was a cite to this interesting academic paper on hospital pricing that relies on data from the Health Care Cost Institute.

Healthcare Dive reports based on an Oliver Wyman study that number of payer-provider partnerships is ramping up, which is a good sign for cost control.

In other good news, the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality announced that “The National Scorecard on Rates of Hospital-Acquired Conditions, 2014 to 2016, the most recent report, shows that from 2014 to 2016, HACs fell by 8 percent, saving about 8,000 lives and about $2.9 billion in healthcare costs.”

Finally, a bevy of prescription drug benefit news reports

  • Co-pay accumulators work according to the CNBC report
  • Health Affairs discusses this status of a class of cholesterol inhibiting specialty drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors. The author’s conclusion: “Ultimately, if patients are truly to benefit from innovative therapies, all stakeholders—including manufacturers, payers, and providers—must engage in efforts to ensure appropriate drug pricing, utilization management, and prescribing.” Amen to that sentiment. 
  • CMS reports that the Medicare Trustees annual report projects lower spending for Medicare Part D, another sign that adding Medicare Part D EGWPs to the FEHBP is a dandy cost saving idea. 

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