A month and change has now passed since the great splash of January’s big Amazon/Berkshire/Chase health venture announcement. It certainly was successful in disrupting the news cycle. The initially sky-high healthcare “Richter Scale” readings are returning to normal. And, it’s pretty safe to say that any substantive changes, major disruption, and any new normal that may be triggered by this venture on big healthcare (20% of the economy), other employers – big, small and in between, and everybody else are not on the immediate horizon.
Like the CVS/Aetna venture announced last December, real change is likely to be More Tortoise Than Hare.
A sampling of Warren Buffett’s comments in some of his recent interviews with Bloomberg, CNBC, and KHN may provide you with a little more insight and a glimpse of some of his expectations.
Here are a few sound bytes from recent Buffett interviews:
He said that the goal of the business is “better care, lower costs,”and, that it will “take time.”
“This is not easy. If it was easy, it would have been done.”
“It would be very easy I think to go in and shave off 3 or 4 percent just by negotiating power. We’re looking for something much bigger than that.”
He spoke of health-care spending taking up an increasing proportion of the U.S. economy, and a indicated that the goal of the venture is to “at least” halt that ascendant trend.
Buffett also stated that he hopes “we could find a way where perhaps better care could be delivered even at somewhat lesser cost.”
To read more go to Bloomberg: Buffett-Dimon Health Venture To Go Beyond Just Squeezing The Middlemen
With healthcare seemingly out of the political crosshairs for the moment and any tectonic shifts emanating from a new Amazon/Berkshire Hathaway/J.P. Morgan Chase superpower health entity a ways down the road, employers may get to experience some at least temporary market stability in the way of more choices, more consistent rates, less volatile renewals, and more opportunities to innovate (e.g. SharedFunding).
Employers have grounds for hope, at least for the next year or so.
Here are five (5) reasons that may lead to at least some temporary stability and have positive impact on cost and selection in the group market:
- The total number of people insured is holding steady or possibly even increasing despite the repeal of the individual mandate.
- Interest and energy in employer sponsored plans is up. More employers are offering health coverage. Many are also trying to improve their health coverage in order to compete for and retain talent in a more robust job market and a stronger economy.
- Much of the market activity for both insurance carriers and healthcare providers is geared toward gaining scale while building a better mousetrap (eg. Aetna/CVS, Unitedhealthcare and other carriers acquiring providers, etc). Strategic M&A activity is expected to continue.
- More states are experimenting by exercising the state waiver option (more info here and here). While tinkering with the individual market and Medicaid will get most of the headlines, more control on the state level should spawn more innovation and new options in the group market especially for small and mid-size employers.
- Health systems are now focused on vertical integration and improving their overall value proposition. They’re jockeying for market position and attempting to win over patients and payors alike.
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- Tom Barrett
- January 30, 2018
- cost, costs, coverage, employees, employers, enrollment, health plans, healthcare, insurance, medical, states, trends
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Job-based health insurance is still far and away the largest single source of health care coverage in the U.S. As we continue to work on behalf of clients to drive new and better ways to stem the tide of health care costs, here are some key stats from 2017 to ponder:
1.) Average annual premium nationally for single coverage — .$6,690 (or $557 per month)
2.) Average annual premium nationally for family coverage — .$18,764 (or $1,564 per month)
3.) Generally speaking, most employers cover at least 50% of the employee’s cost of premium. Nationally, employers cover on average 81% of the cost of single (employee only) premium.
4.) Not all employers contribute to family coverage. Employers that do contribute to family coverage, cover on average 69% of the cost to cover dependents.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
Job-based health insurance is the largest single source of health care coverage in the U.S.
1.) Employer-sponsored insurance covers more than 157 million workers and their dependents.
2.) The next largest source of coverage, Medicaid, insures less than half as many, 63 million.
3.) Medicare enrolls 45 million;
4.) Individual market (on/off Marketplace) provides coverage for about 21 million.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF.org)
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- Tom Barrett
- January 19, 2018
- coverage, employees, employers, enrollment, federal, health plans, healthcare, insurance, kaiser, kff, medical, medicare, open enrollment, trends
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