Cigna-HealthSpring and partner Intel-GE Care Innovations are expanding a population health program focused on patients with congestive heart failure.
Intel-GE is a joint venture between the chip maker and General Electric's health care division that has provided tablets to virtually connect patients to Cigna-HealthSpring nurse practitioners. Patients also are given blood pressure cuffs and scales to chart their daily metrics on the tablet, allowing them to manage their condition at home.
A pilot version of the program engaged 50 patients and the expansion will reach up to 250. The goal is to reduce hospitalizations and readmissions.
"We are dedicated to helping our customers get more from life and the success of the pilot program shows what an invaluable opportunity we have to truly make a positive impact in our customers' lives," Dr. Jim Lancaster, Cigna HealthSpring senior medical director, said in a release. "Many people with congestive heart failure find themselves back in the hospital within a matter of weeks after returning home, so it's important that we continue to see new and innovative solutions to help them better manage their health."
Health insurance advisor Bernard Health is adding to its Indianapolis presence, taking downtown space that had been occupied by tax preparer H&R Block. Bernard already runs a retail store on Indy's north side. In all, the company will operate seven stores in four states once its latest outpost opens its doors.
Franklin-based Healthways and insurance giant UnitedHealthcare have added three years to the local company's contract to market its SilverSneakers senior fitness program to United's Medicare Advantage plan members. The companies' SilverSneakers relationship, which started in 2004, will now go through 2017.
A study published by PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute this week details the health insurance industry's "major shift" toward a direct to consumer model, and predicts retail insurance marketplaces will continue to grow.
As employers face rising health care costs alongside regulatory demands, the study says many are moving away—or dropping out entirely—from the benefit business.
In a separate survey, PwC found 38 percent of 1,200 employers have increased cost-sharing plans, like those with high deductibles, which 67 percent of the employers offer. Additionally, 32 percent were considering moving to a private exchange model. Though the study suggested private exchange growth could take longer than the public exchange—which saw more than eight million enrollees in its first year—its an increasingly attractive option for employers.
Insurers are also capitalizing on the trend. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee announced this summer the rollout of a private exchange product called BlueMarket. Available in January, the model can be structured traditionally as a defined-benefit plan or, speaking to cost-sharing trends, as a defined-contribution plan.
"Employers are expressing significant interest in private exchanges, but taking the time to evaluate the various exchange offerings," Barbara Gniewek, principal at PwC, said in a release. "We are watching very closely as the market continues to evolve. Exchanges that can deliver sustainable cost savings, and enhance the customer experience while reducing the administrative burden will be best positioned for success."
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Middle Tennessee's hospital companies have some notable reform-driven tailwinds helping their bottom lines these days. Late last week, the Obama administration added another one when it said Pennsylvania will become the 27th state to expand Medicaid coverage to about 500,000 residents. That stands to benefit, among others, locally based Community Health Systems and LifePoint Hospitals. The former has been steadily building a Pennsylvania presence in recent years and now gets 12 percent of its revenues there. The latter is buying its way into Western Pennsylvania through its Duke LifePoint partnership.
SEE ALSO: Word from Gov. Bill Haslam last week that his administration plans to submit a Medicaid expansion plan this fall. For the record, Tennessee generates 7 percent of CHS' revenues and almost 11 percent of LifePoint's.
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