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Phia Group Media

Welcome to the Subrogation Sphere

On February 9, 2024
Las Vegas does not have the only sphere that can provide an extraordinary experience for its participants. Let me introduce you to the subrogation sphere where participants may first appear to have conflicting interests but can become allies. When a health plan member is injured because of a third-party action it sets into motion a dance involving many players, potentially including the plan participant, at-fault party, medical providers, stop loss carrier, and the health plan. Each player is trying to determine which player is the proper payor of the plan participant’s medical expenses.

Are Measles Making a Comeback?

On January 31, 2024
The ever-serious epidemiologist out of Minnesota, who forewarned of a global pandemic years ago and has garnered the not-so-flattering nickname “Bad News Mike,” has a new dire message about the recent measles outbreak, one to which children are most susceptible, that has started to trickle through pockets of Europe and, more recently, the US:

A New Year Brings New (Higher) Prescription Drug Prices

On January 18, 2024
It must be January. W-2 forms are hitting the mail. Fitness centers are packed to the brim. The NFL playoffs are in full force.

Considerations Regarding the Exclusion of Gender-Affirming Care

On January 16, 2024
Gender-affirming care was a particularly popular topic throughout 2023. As we enter the new year, the prevalent discussion concerning plan coverage of such care will certainly continue.

Is the Department of Labor Offsetting a Major Problem?

On January 3, 2024
As if Americans on employer-based health plans didn’t face enough obstacles in trying to obtain reasonably priced healthcare.

Time’s Up! It’s Gag Clause Attestation Season

On December 26, 2023
As the year wraps up and plans and TPAs around the country are scrambling to handle renewals, another challenge looms large in 2023 – the first annual gag clause attestation. As a reminder, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) prohibits plans from entering into any contracts with providers and certain other entities that contain “gag clauses” – and requires them to attest annually that their contracts are free of them. The first attestation is due at the end of 2023, and it will cover the period of December 27, 2021 through December 31, 2023. The goal of the legislation is transparency, but it has glaring holes – contracts can’t prohibit plans from sharing certain information with other entities, but nothing requires them to be granted access to this information in the first place.

For Sickle Cell Disease Patients, Hope Has Arrived – but at What Cost?

On December 21, 2023
For generations of sickle cell disease (SCD) patients, the suffering has been unbearable – with no end in sight. SCD, an inherited genetic red blood cell disorder that affects hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout the body, torments nearly 100,000 Americans (20 million people worldwide), a disproportionate number of whom are African-American. Among other symptoms, SCD often triggers chronic bouts of excruciating pain that require regular hospitalization, organ failure, strokes, and shortened life expectancy. Meanwhile, the only known cure for the insidious disease has been a bone marrow transplant.

Is Artificial Intelligence the New Frontier for Healthcare?

On December 12, 2023
The ills of the American healthcare system, namely an undue administrative burden on healthcare providers and a labor supply not keeping pace with the demand for services, have been well documented. But now, as we grind through the 2020s, relief may be on the way with the booming popularity (or in some cases, acceptance) of artificial intelligence (AI). Many healthcare experts believe that AI – a mechanism grounded in the simulation of human intelligence by computerized systems and one that has already changed how many humans learn and work – could revolutionize the field. But as enticing as the prospect of AI driving forward greater industrywide systemic efficiency may be, should this gargantuan development be universally celebrated?

Being Mindful of Telemedicine Access

On November 9, 2023
From a healthcare standpoint, two of the most significant byproducts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been the exploding popularity of Telemedicine, the practice of providing medical and mental health services remotely, and a heightened awareness of many Americans’ longstanding mental health issues. Due to a confluence of prolonged extenuating circumstances, it became readily apparent to healthcare providers, politicians, social workers, employers, teachers, and parents on both sides of the Mississippi that a.) the inimitable convenience of virtual healthcare does not compromise quality (at least for some patients and practitioners) and b.) many Americans experiencing emotional distress have long been suffering in silence.

Update on the Federal IDR Process

On October 27, 2023
Recently there has been significant discussion about the federal IDR process. The IDR process is an important tool of the No Surprises Act (“NSA”) as it resolves claims for payment for out-of-network items and services. It not only provides a procedure for settling disputed claims but is also an integral mechanism for supporting the NSA’s protection for plan members against potentially crippling expenses from balance billing for high-cost out-of-network claims.

Empowering the 2023 SIIA National Conference

On October 26, 2023
Earlier this month, the self-insurance industry’s most prominent thought-leaders, innovative service providers, and esteemed subject matter experts convened at the 2023 Self-Insurance Institute of America (SIIA) National Conference at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. The SIIA National Conference, which this year covered such pressing topics as artificial intelligence, surprise billing, emerging trends impacting the employer stop-loss market, and recent legislative and regulatory updates, is widely considered to be the self-insurance industry’s annual marquee event, bringing together hundreds of industry professionals including TPAs, vendors (there were over 950 booths representing industry vendors stationed in the exhibitor hall), brokers, captive managers, stop-loss carriers, and solution providers.

District Court Strikes a Blow to Copay Accumulator Programs

On October 11, 2023
Many of our clients are aware of, or even utilize, “copay accumulator” programs – these programs create plan savings by not counting amounts received by patients from manufacturer assistance programs toward annual deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Some programs go a step further by actually increasing the applicable copayment for certain drugs to maximize the amount a patient may be eligible to receive from manufacturers.

The First Ten: The Initial Round of Drugs Subject to Medicare Price Negotiations

On August 30, 2023
On August 29, President Biden unveiled the first ten prescription drugs that will be subject to price negotiation with Medicare (Jardiance, Xarelto, Januvia, Farxiga, Entresto, Enbrel, Imbruvica, Stelara, Fiasp and NovoLog), representing a watershed moment for Democrats who have spent years clamoring for lower prescription costs.

Wegovy: The Heart of the Matter

On August 18, 2023
Obesity adversely impacts upwards of 100 million adults in the US and accounts for nearly $150 billion in annual health care spending, yet health insurers have been reluctant to cover high-priced weight loss drugs, ones they frequently label as “cosmetic” or “lifestyle” medications. But, given what transpired earlier this month, is it possible that there could be an impending sea change in the medical field’s perception of such treatment?

The Power Dynamics of Gag Clauses

On August 14, 2023
In the already-intricate world of health benefits, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which is notable to the self-funded industry for three main reasons: it expanded the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to require health plans to proactively document their compliance via the nonquantitative treatment limitation (NQTL) analysis; it introduced the No Surprises Act, which fundamentally changed how claims disputes are handled; and it prohibited health plans from entering into contracts containing gag clauses. This particular blog post focuses on gag clauses. The implications of this prohibition on transparency and patient rights are immense, and it’s worth looking into the power dynamics at play since it’s not quite as simple as saying that plans can no longer have these gag clauses.