Featured in Health Business Daily, March 13, 2018

CEOs Say Short-Term Plans May Destroy the Market

A longer version of this article was published in the March 12, 2018, issue of Health Plan Weekly. Subscribe today for more strategic business, financial and regulatory analysis of the health insurance industry.

March 13, 2018

The CEOs of three health insurance companies put some Trump administration health care policy priorities on blast at the America’s Health Insurance Plans National Health Policy Conference.

Kenneth Burdick, CEO of WellCare Health Plans, Paula Steiner, president and CEO of Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC), and Steven Udvarhelyi, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, expressed their concern about the expansion of short-term plans and adding work requirements to Medicaid during a question-and-answer session at the conference.

Udvarhelyi urged the government to stabilize the individual insurance market by funding cost-sharing reduction subsidies and reinsurance programs in order to bring down premiums.

Steiner contended that the expanding use of short-term plans fails to address the issue of health care affordability. “They are a business opportunity, but they are not a policy solution that works for Americans,” she said, adding that creating an unregulated market next to a guaranteed-issue market would force companies like hers out of the market.

Burdick expressed concerns about the Medicaid work requirements that have been approved in Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas. “[I]f you’re trying to move people out either through increasing administrative complexity or by putting barriers in their way that will only lead to more expensive care in an acute setting, that is misplaced, and no one is going to benefit from that, including the taxpayers.”

The CEOs also asserted that the use of technology and data analytics is the key to meet the needs of customers.

For instance, the Louisiana Blues plan is creating models that can predict a health care event by analyzing non-traditional data. WellCare is overhauling its prior authorization program for outpatient and elective procedures in order to provide a better experience for both physicians and members. As HCSC focuses on the problem of affordability, the insurer recently announced a three-year, $1.5 billion initiative called “Affordability Cures,” aiming to reduce unnecessary costs across the health care system.

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