KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Marketplace: Hospitals Work On Insurance Arms; Walgreen Eyes Hospice Business

News outlets covered developments in the hospital and hospice industries.  

The Wall Street Journal: Hospital Systems Branch Out As Insurers
A growing number of hospital systems are moving to start their own insurance plans, aiming to broaden their roles and prepare for the changes coming under the federal health-care overhaul. Piedmont Healthcare and WellStar Health System, both in the Atlanta area, are set to announce a jointly owned insurance arm, with the goal of marketing coverage to employers and Medicare recipients in 2014. They also will consider selling coverage on a health exchange, one of the online insurance marketplaces required in each state by the health-overhaul law (Mathews, 12/16).

Earlier, related KHN story: Hospitals Look To Become Insurers, As Well As Providers Of Care (Rabin, 8/26).

Modern Healthcare: Walgreen Returns To Hospice Care
Looking to bolster sagging revenue, Walgreen Co. plans to launch a national platform targeting hospice providers as soon as next year, an about-face after jettisoning its long-term care pharmacy business two years ago. Providing medications to dying patients is more lucrative than retail sales, where the Deerfield-based company faces mounting price competition. The hospice pharmacy industry is particularly fragmented, making it attractive to a company with the heft of Walgreen (Sweeney, 12/16).

And in insurer news -

Medscape: Physician Groups Rank UnitedHealthcare Last Again
For the fourth year in a row, Medicare Part B has received the highest overall satisfaction score from group practice professionals and UnitedHealthcare has received the lowest score, according to the latest survey on third-party payers conducted by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). Medicare Part B and UnitedHealthcare also took the top and bottom spots, respectively, with regard to other key indicators of a happy business relationship, such as timely and accurate responses to questions, the claims appeals process, and full disclosure of payment policies (Lowes, 12/14).

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