jump to navigation

Employee benefits contracts-read and understand prior to signing! June 19, 2012

Posted by medvision in health data, Healthcare Costs, Healthcare Reform, Insurance Plans, Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Employers sponsoring self-funded health benefit programs typically make vendor decisions based upon proposals submitted in a “request for proposal” (RFP) process. A decision is made to contract with, for example, ABC administrator/pharmacy benefits administrator, an application is signed and a contract returned for execution. I’m always amazed when I ask a client employer for a vendor contract and initially receive the actual proposal, instead of the contract. Why? Because proposals show clients what they think is being purchased on behalf of members but executed contracts rule the process. Typically, disputes don’t come from the benefits delivered but from the pricing methodology/price the client thought was agreed to.

As an example, many managers believe with self-funded arrangements they are paying a fee in return for service. Some plan sponsors exhibit shock when they learn their vendors are enjoying additional profits by spread-pricing products purchased via their administrative services only, (ASO) agreements.

One of the great puzzles associated with the employee benefits arena is how a large employer’s legal team can hold up a contract to purchase “trucks” for months, on intricate contract details, but then blindly provide authority to sign employee benefits contracts which run counter to the proposals used in the decision process. The following represents contractual clauses from a prescription benefit management company. I have underlined a few provisions which should provide anxiety to the individuals preparing to sign this contract.

Why worry about this? In many instances these practices unnecessarily increase the fixed cost of programs. For example, the contract below may increase cost of prescription drugs to members by $10-$15 PEPM. If this amount were reallocated to provide additional health services possibly employer paid health care inflation could be eliminated?

 

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE TO DEN INDEMNITY SCRIPT COMPANY PBM CLIENTS

 

This disclosure provides an overview of the principal revenue sources of Den Indemnity Script Company, Inc. (DISCO) and does not supersede any of the specific financial terms and conditions between DISCO and an individual client. In addition to administrative and dispensing fees paid to DISCO by our clients for pharmaceutical benefit management (PBM) services, DISCO derives revenue from other sources, including arrangements with pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and retail pharmacies. Some of this revenue relates to utilization of prescription drugs by members of the clients receiving PBM services, DISCO may pass through certain manufacture payments to its clients or may retain as payments for itself, depending on the contract terms between DISCO and client.

Network Pharmacies— DISCO contracts for its own account with retail pharmacies to dispense prescription drugs to client members. Rates paid by DISCO to these pharmacies may differ among networks and among pharmacies within a network, and by client arrangements. DISCO agreements generally provide that the client pay DISCO for ingredient cost, plus dispensing fees, for drug claims at a uniform rate. If the rate paid by client exceeds the rate contracted with a particular pharmacy, DISCO will realize a positive margin on the applicable claim. The reverse may also be true, resulting in a negative margin for DISCO. DISCO also enters into pass-through agreements where the client pays DISCO the actual ingredient cost and dispensing fee DISCO pays the pharmacy. In addition, when DISCO receives payment from a client for payment to a pharmacy, DISCO retains the benefit of the use of funds between these payments. DISCO may charge pharmacies transaction fees to assess this goes pharmacy claims system and for other related administrative purposes.

Brand/Generic Classifications— Prescription drugs may be classified as either a brand or generic however, the reference to a drug by its chemical name does not necessarily mean that the product is recognized as a generic for adjudication, pricing or co-pay purposes. DISCO distinguishes brands and generics through a proprietary operating algorithm that uses certain published elements provided by First Databank including price indicators, generic indicator, generic manufacturer indicator, generic name drug indicator, innovator, Drug Class and ANDA. The proprietary algorithm uses these data elements in a hierarchical process to categorize the products as brand or generic. The proprietary algorithm also has processes to resolve discrepancies and prevent hopping between branded generic status price fluctuations in marketplace availability changes. The elements listed above and sources are subject to change based upon availability of specific fields. Updated summaries of the proprietary algorithm are available on request.

DISCO Subsidiary Pharmacy Discount Arrangements— DISCO subsidiary pharmacies purchase prescription drug inventories, either from manufacturers or wholesalers, for dispensing to patients. Often, purchase discounts off the acquisition cost of these products are made available by manufacturers and wholesalers in the form of either upfront discounts or retrospective discounts. These purchase discounts, obtained through separate purchase contracts, are not formulary rebates paid in connection with our PBM rebate programs. Drug purchase discounts are based on the pharmacy’s inventory needs and, at times, performance of related patient care services and other performance requirements. When a subsidiary pharmacy dispenses a product from its inventory, the purchase price paid for the dispense product, including applicable dispensing fees, may be greater or less than that pharmacies acquisition cost for the product net of purchase discounts. In general, are pharmacies realize an overall positive margin between the net acquisition cost any amounts paid for the dispense drugs.

Advertisements

What about our national primary-care physician shortage? June 19, 2012

Posted by medvision in health data, Healthcare Costs, Healthcare Reform, Insurance Plans, Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

During America’s healthcare debate, we’ve heard many arguments for and against the various elements included in the president’s PPACA law.

A significant problem, acknowledged by all parties, is the looming shortage of primary care physicians. Primary care physician compensation has been shorted when compared to pay physicians specializing in disease categories, types of patients or methods of treatment. This has resulted in those physicians responsible for treating the whole patient, quarterbacking the complex maze of specialists, testing, procedures and hospital stays, receiving the lowest pay in the hierarchy of physician specialties.

No one should be surprised to learn students in medical school are steering away from the various primary care specialties. Given the reality of a shortage of primary care doctors, the manner in which primary care offices operate can virtually determine “life or death” outcomes for patients. The attached describes this scenario:

http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2012/06/long-waits-access-primary-care-avoidable.html

A necessary solution to long-term primary care woes are mapped out in a program entitled “MD CEO”. Authored by Dr. Scott Conard M.D., a brilliant Dallas Texas-based primary care physician, MD CEO is a process which enables the skills of “physician extenders” to quickly and efficiently serve patients in the doctor’s office for conditions of clear “empirical medicine”. This program aligns the physician’s time to serve patients with conditions requiring “intuitive medicine” while sequentially providing medical leadership serving all patients.

www.themdceo.com

If I want my plan to fail (pt.2): June 2, 2012

Posted by medvision in Chronic Disease, health data, Healthcare Costs, Insurance Plans, Risk Management, Rx Costs, Uncategorized.
add a comment

Health Costs, Rx Costs“I won’t question nationally published cost statistics and wonder if these “industry averages” apply to my member population.  When I read an article stating an average family of four incurs health claims in excess of $20,000, my mind closes”.  http://www.marketplace.org/topics/your-money/makin-money/family-health-care-costs-breach-20000

What does “family of four” typically denote? Most would think, mom, dad and two kids? Look outside of your house, condo/apartment and notice a family on a stroll. How many think the average family walking by incurs $20K per year in claims? So, how could Milliman publish such a high average, or high “Milliman Medical Index, MMI”?  

From a pure mathematical perspective I’d never question the validity of their result. They took millions of values (family claims) came to a total and then divided by the number of values to obtain the average or mean. We should be asking, “is this average a reasonable representation of the “central tendency” or essence of the data”? Another way to think of the Milliman average is what does this number/average tell us about health care risk?

When thinking of families of four, I find it hard to comprehend the average claims expense is in excess of $20 thousand dollars, annually? Could both be correct? The answer is yes, however I hope to convince the audience the Milliman average is unrepresentative of the “central tendency” of the values (family of 4 health claims) as this average is obviously calculated including huge claim values (high) outliers.  Here’s a very clear video explaining the manner outliers change our perception of data sets.  http://www.statisticslectures.com/topics/outliereffects/#video

Huge average claim values tend to “breed” stagnation concerning intelligent plan management actions!

When looking at “average per member per year plan cost” why let consultants define average in a different manner than the financing of the plan? Most plans re-insure specific member claims to a “specific” deductible amount and receive reimbursements for amounts over this deductible. However, when computing the annual per member/employee cost, these amounts reimbursed are included grossly inflating the average cost! In fact the top 1% of members, by claims cost, incur approximately 30% of all plan assets. Removing these as outliers would provide managers a more accurate “central tendency” of their claims data.

%d bloggers like this: