Category Archives: Cost

Milliman report on U.S. organ and tissue transplants finds slight rise in average annual cost, survival rate overall

Milliman has released the 2017 edition of its triennial report on the estimated costs of U.S. organ and tissue transplants. The report summarizes average annual costs per member per month (PMPM), including utilization and billed charges, related to the 30 days prior and 180 days after transplant admission for organ and tissue transplants. This includes single-organ transplants such as heart, intestine, kidney, liver, lung, and pancreas, and a number of multiple-organ transplants; tissue transplants include bone marrow and cornea.

While the findings vary greatly by transplant and population type, the study found that for all combined organ and tissue transplants, billed charges saw an average annual increase of 3.5% for those under 65, and 7.7% for those over 65 when compared to the 2014 report. The analysis also revealed a dramatic decrease in waiting times for kidney transplants and intestine transplants, while wait times for organs such as heart and pancreas have increased since the 2014 report. Survival rates have generally increased slightly when compared to Milliman’s previous report.

Organ and tissue transplants are a vital but expensive healthcare service, and the costs for these transplants are not readily available. “This research is an important tool for providers, payers, and the public to better understand the utilization and billed charges surrounding organ and tissue transplantation.”

To view the complete report, click here.

Assessing the international private medical insurance market

International private medical insurance (IPMI) provides employees with long-term travel obligations access to broader healthcare services. The global IPMI market has become very competitive. Expectations are that the market will continue to grow. In this article, Milliman’s Joanne Buckle and Neha Taneja take a look at some key pricing and experience rating items for group IPMI issuers to consider.

Here is an excerpt:

Dealing with multiple geographies, changing regulations, various health systems, diverse demographics and movement of the insured population results in a number of additional complexities when compared to rating a traditional PMI policy. Here are some of the key factors IPMI providers need to consider:

  • Local data limitations: The wealth of data that a traditional health insurer holds on domestic PMI policies is usually insufficient for pricing an IPMI product, because:
    • IPMI policies usually offer a more much comprehensive benefit package.
    • Differences in the socio-economic profile of the target market, resulting in markedly different benefit features and claims experience.
    • Distinct claiming patterns due to the international nature of the benefits.
    • Variation in utilisation patterns by country and nationality.
    • Portability offered under an IPMI policy allows full access to benefits wherever the employees are and it is difficult to predict where different services will be consumed.Obtaining reliable and relevant data with a desired level of granularity can be challenging making it difficult to get any credible results on which to base sound conclusions.
  • Geographical area of coverage: This is considered one of the key rating factors for an IPMI policy as claims costs can vary significantly between countries. For example, most insurers provide separate cover for ‘worldwide excluding US’ and ‘worldwide including US’, because healthcare costs are typically much more expensive in the United States than anywhere else in the world. Most insurers would classify countries into different regions/levels/zones that have broadly similar costs and healthcare systems for more accurate rating. However, constructing such classifications is difficult because:
    • Limited claims experience for some countries and lack of data for others makes the classification statistically less sound.
    • Even countries with similar costs may have different types and quality of healthcare services, disease trends and state healthcare systems which can make it difficult to group countries into particular zones. For example, insurers may experience lower claims ratio in countries with well-functioning state healthcare systems, which allow access for temporary residents. The rules on whether an overseas national is eligible to access the local state healthcare system are complex and vary by destination country, as well as nationality. In addition, the likelihood that an employee will access state coverage depends on the quality of the state healthcare system, as well as the nationality and cultural preferences of the employee.
    • Volatility in exchange rates can result in the pricing zone relativities becoming rapidly obsolete.

All of these factors are likely to have a significant impact on the claim frequencies and costs. As a result, trying to price cover accurately for a multinational company with employees residing in multiple countries across the globe is quite a task.

Genetic testing in England: ROI, cost-effectiveness analysis, or both to evaluate intervention

In healthcare, return on investment (ROI) can be used to measure the effectiveness of various disease management programmes. ROI provides a framework to help determine whether additional funds should be allocated to a particular activity or alternatively whether these funds should be withdrawn and allocated elsewhere. The rapid uptake of genetic testing within the National Health Service (NHS) and current debate around genetics make evaluating tailored interventions increasingly more relevant to ensure an efficient use of NHS spend. Milliman’s Joanne Buckle and Didier Serre provide perspective in this paper.

Affordable Care Act subsidies: How does your state benefit?

How much does your state benefit from Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies?

Milliman’s recently published 50-state profile of the individual health insurance market presents nationwide enrollment and subsidy data that can help states better understand the funding and coverage requirements under the ACA. The infographic below sheds light on some of the 2017 results, including marketplace enrollment numbers by state, and a closer look at the ACA cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies—for which government funding is currently under legal challenge.

Population health analytics for India’s health insurance industry

In India, recent regulatory changes mandating guaranteed renewability, lifetime coverage and restricted premium revision opportunities imply that any substandard risk in the current portfolio could potentially be retained for life. This necessitates a different approach to managing insurers’ growing portfolios.

This article by Milliman’s Lalit Baveja explains how insurers can benefit from treating their covered members using analytics based on population health principles. Such an approach requires a better clinical understanding of member populations to identify the most effective and cost-efficient strategies for managing members’ health and preventing hospitalizations and claims in the long run.

Milliman Medical Index: Typical American family faces $26,944 in annual healthcare costs

Milliman today released the 2017 Milliman Medical Index (MMI), which measures the cost of healthcare for a typical American family of four receiving coverage from an employer-sponsored preferred provider plan (PPO). In 2017, costs for this family will increase by 4.3%—which marks the lowest rate of increase in the history of this study—though the total dollar increase of $1,118 is consistent with the last decade of healthcare cost increases.

“The good news is that we are seeing a record-low 4.3% cost increase in this year’s MMI,” said Chris Girod, coauthor of the Milliman Medical Index. “The bad news: Continuing a 12-year pattern, healthcare costs for a typical family of four this year increased by more than $1,100.”

In recent years, the Milliman Medical Index has reported notable increases in pharmaceutical costs. Last year, drug costs increased by 9.1%. That rate of increase fell to 8% in 2017, which is still more than twice the rate of increase for all other components of healthcare spending.

“We’re seeing a smaller rate of increase for prescription drugs this year,” said Scott Weltz, coauthor of the MMI. “But the longer view reveals a different story. Since we began tracking this data in 2001, prescription drug costs for the typical American family have increased from $1,111 to $4,612.”

This year’s MMI includes analysis of dynamics driving healthcare costs, including the sometimes elusive nature of rebates in drug pricing. While rebates often do not result in cost savings for consumers at the pharmacy, they still impact the larger cost puzzle.

The MMI is unique among health cost studies because it measures the total cost of healthcare services used by the family of four, including out-of-pocket expenses paid at time of service. The MMI also separates costs into portions paid by employer versus employee. This year, the employer pays $15,259 of a family’s total healthcare costs and the employee—through payroll deductions and cost sharing at the time of service—pays $11,685.

“Back in 2001, the first year we measured the MMI, employees paid 39% of healthcare costs,” said Sue Hart, coauthor of the MMI. “This year, the family’s share of healthcare costs reached 43% of the total—an $11,685 total. We’ve seen a long, slow shift toward employees as these plans look to control healthcare costs.”

This year’s MMI includes discussion of the major components of the cost of care—payments to providers and the frequency and type of services used—and how they might vary outside the employer-sponsored system. Different discounts and payment mechanisms in the public markets can impact the costs for private insurers and therefore for the MMI family of four.

To view the complete MMI, click here.