Category Archives: Utilization

Critical Point podcast: “Healthcare waste and how to find it”

Milliman’s new podcast, Critical Point, presents unique perspectives from the firm’s professionals. The podcast’s debut episode, “Healthcare waste and how to find it,” features Jackie Sehr, Marcos Dachary, and Dr. David Mirkin from Milliman MedInsight®, a data warehousing and healthcare analytics platform. In this episode, they discuss healthcare waste and approaches to minimize waste and reduce unnecessary costs across the American healthcare system.

To listen to this episode of Critical Point, click here.

Opioid prescription patterns affect risk scores

Opioid prescribing nationwide peaked in 2012 at over 80 prescriptions per 100 persons. Between 2012 and 2016, the prescribing rate decreased by almost 20%. Even after this decline, 19% of the U.S. population filled at least one opioid prescription during 2016.

As opioid prescribing declined, many doctors switched to other pain relief drugs. The change in prescribing patterns has potential implications for risk adjustment, because some of the drugs now being used for pain relief were previously flagged in pharmacy-based risk adjustment models as associated with high-cost conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

This brief by Christine Mytelka, Melanie Kuester, Colin Gray, and Lucas Everheart provides data on the decline in opioid prescribing and the increased use of other non-opioid pain relief drugs. Additionally, it addresses the corresponding effect that changing prescribing patterns may have on evaluating population health and risk-adjusted payments in risk-based managed care programs.

Impact of Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

What has happened to utilization and costs for mental health and substance use disorder benefits as the mental health parity laws and associated rules were slowly rolled out? This paper by Milliman consultants presents an analysis of healthcare utilization and cost patterns during the six-year period from 2008 through 2013 and suggests that the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act has driven increases in access to, and benefit richness for, mental health and substance use disorder benefits.

Population health and value-based care collaboration: Primary care case study

Many health systems around the world are introducing new care models which claim to replace expensive acute inpatient care with more primary and community-based services. This paper by Milliman consultants examines the primary care redesign of seven US practices over the course of three years, including their reported utilisation and savings achievements.

Healthcare industry must evolve with direct-to-consumer genetic testing utilization

The growth of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing presents several medical and financial implications for the healthcare industry to consider. In this article, Milliman consultant Barbara Culley examines the demand for DTC genetic testing and industry concerns. The excerpt below highlights a few of them.

Providers and regulators have expressed concerns about the DTC process, including the absence of healthcare providers from it, concerns for unnecessary testing, patient anxiety, erroneous test results, and misinterpretation of test results by untrained consumers. Insurers have concerns about the possibility of adverse selection. If a person knows they have a positive indicator for a disease, will those people seek insurance in greater numbers than those without any genetic concerns?

One key factor driving concerns is that not all persons with a positive genetic test will develop the indicated disease. Many variables, including environment, personal lifestyle choices, and other genetic factors, have a significant impact on health. Concern exists that genetic test results may lead to unnecessary treatment. In the case of false positive and false negative outcomes, the added concern is that treatment choices may be made in error. In a 2012 study13 of 179 people from four countries, the average person was found to have about 400 defects in their genes, some associated with disease. However, these people were well. Even if results cause people to seek insurance or care, they may never develop the disease indicated by genetic testing.

Concerns have been raised about the potential for DTC testing to create added costs and consume resources in the healthcare system with little value. For example, positive DTC genetic testing results may lead consumers to follow up with their physicians for treatment based on a test result that may not indicate a genuine health issue.

Barbara also provides some actionable measures that health plans can take to respond effectively to the evolving DTC genetic testing market. The following excerpt summarizes her considerations.

Continued growth in the marketplace is probable with the recent FTC approvals for DTC genetic testing and health risk reporting for diseases. Growing consumer use and subsequent follow-up with healthcare providers and insurers can be anticipated.

Data trends indicate consumers are likely to seek information perceived as helpful in self-management of health. Health plans may wish to consider how to best respond to the evolving impact of DTC genetic testing and subsequent member expectations with education, tools, and medical policy that optimize the use of these tests and support member engagement in their health.

Transgender health coverage considerations

This paper written by Milliman’s Susan Philip and Andrew Naugle highlights recent state and federal policy changes concerning healthcare benefits for transgender individuals. The authors also examine health insurance clinical policies governing the coverage of services related to gender transition. Lastly, Susan and Andrew provide future considerations for healthcare payers, including appropriately capturing data relevant to the healthcare needs of the transgender and gender nonconforming population.