Data, policy changes, value-based care are top of mind for health plan leaders in 2017

Calendar switching to 2017
Looming healthcare policy changes and an increased focus on affordability will both be top of mind for health plan leaders this year. (Getty/Oakozhan)

While uncertainty surrounding the healthcare regulatory landscape will be top of mind for health plan leaders this year, that isn’t the only major trend on the horizon for the industry.

Another major issue is affordability, Greg Scott, the national leader of Deloitte’s health plan practice, said in a recent interview conducted by the consulting firm.

That signifies a shift from the industry’s longtime focus on costs, as affordability is more concerned with whether families can actually afford monthly premiums, deductibles and copays. In fact, affordability is a major concern for every healthcare services and health insurance purchaser in the country, he said.

Here are some of the other major trends that Scott says will be front and center for health plans this year:

  • Acceleration in the shift to value-based care. Both health plans and Medicare have been “blazing the trail” in developing new payment models and new ways to measure value, among other efforts, Scott says. In this movement, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) is a game-changer and will become even more so this year, Scott predicts. One way payers can smooth the transition to MACRA is by moving away from the patchwork of value-based reimbursement arrangements they currently have, FierceHealthPayer has reported.
  • New ways to cater to consumers. As consumers’ primary priority is often the patient-provider interaction, payers will have the opportunity leverage their resources to make that interaction better by personalizing interactions and ensuring providers have the necessary data at their fingertips, Scott says. Health plans, he adds, will also play a role in breaking through some of the barriers to giving consumers better tools to comparison shop for healthcare services—chiefly, better, more reliable data.
  • Disruptive technology. Blockchain—which Scott describes as an emerging technology with distributed ledgers and smart contracts—could reshape the nature of payer-provider contracting, payment tracking, insurance product underwriting, customer services and product pricing. Robotics and automation, he adds, will offer health plans new ways to streamline some of their basic business processes.