The last couple weeks of the “real” summer are flashing by…things have been a little slow out there but a few items of note crossed my virtual desk this week.
From Insurance Thought Leadership comes a piece about M&A activity in P&C insurance claims. While the article emphasizes the “supply chain” for auto, the author also believes work comp vendors are ripe for consolidation. That’s a bit like calling the race after the horses have crossed the line, nonetheless author Stephen Applebaum’s views are worthy of consideration.
Just occurred to me that three very good and highly experienced work comp medical directors have departed/will depart their current employers over the next few weeks. Rob Bonner, MD of the Hartford; David Dietz, MD of Liberty; and Luis Vilella, MD of the North Dakota State Fund are all free agents, or soon will be.
That’s a lot of talent.
Health cost inflation
The latest data indicate health cost inflation remains really, really low. Like 3 percent. There’s plenty of opining on which factors are affecting the decrease in the rate of increase, but rather than apportion blame/credit, let’s just bask in the warm glow for a bit.
While profits aren’t at an all-time high, early indications are the biggest health plans – which cover 56% of Americans with health insurance – are doing pretty well, with a good chunk of their growth coming from self-insured employers. From Mark Farrah’s report on Q1 2014 results on the top 7 health plans; “[the] uptick in ASO suggests more employers are opting for self-funded commercial plans to skirt some provisions of the ACA (Affordable Care Act). Increases in risk enrollment are mainly a result of continued growth in the Medicare and Medicaid segments.”
The data is supported by an insightful piece from Margot Sanger-Katz in the NYTimes’ Upshot blog. Sanger-Katz notes employee insurance signups at Walmart are up significantly, a data point she uses to build a case for the ACA’s influence on employer signups. Singer-Katz – “expanded employer insurance coverage illustrates how the Affordable Care Act is set up to build on the country’s existing insurance system rather than tear it down. The law doesn’t just create new public insurance programs. It also includes incentives designed to get more people enrolled in employer health coverage.” [emphasis added]
Ten days till the unofficial end of summer – relax like it’s your job!