Dec 12, 2019

Employers skeptical of health insurance merger savings

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Mergers between health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers have been billed as a way to save employers money. But half of employers don't expect that to happen, according to a new JPMorgan survey.

Driving the news: In JPMorgan's survey of top human-resources executives from 50 companies, exactly 50% said they don't think integrating medical and drug benefits under one roof will "drive overall health care savings."

What they're saying: Here are some of the anonymous quotes JPMorgan gathered from respondents on the skeptical side:

  • "There's too much money to be made. They're not offering integrated services to give up revenue."
  • "I am not sure why going back to how it was will magically result in overall savings."
  • "More ways to hide money."

The other side: Even among the other 50% — the executives who were more optimistic about savings — that optimism was tempered.

  • "Conceptually, this should mean greater influence over prescribing patterns. To date, in my opinion, it hasn't," one executive said.

Between the lines: As we wrote last year, this spate of consolidation among insurers and PBMs would not have happened unless those companies were pretty sure they could hang on to a lot of the savings they produced.

  • Employers can always switch insurance carriers if they think they are getting overcharged. But they rarely do so, because they don't want the employee backlash that's associated with overhauling health benefits.

Go deeper: Health insurance is as big as Big Tech

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The health care debate we ought to be having

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Scott Eisen/Getty Images and Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Americans worry a lot about how to get and pay for good health care, but the 2020 presidential candidates are barely talking about what's at the root of these problems: Almost every incentive in the U.S. health care system is broken.

Why it matters: President Trump and most of the Democratic field are minimizing the hard conversations with voters about why health care eats up so much of each paycheck and what it would really take to change things.

One Medical's IPO reveals growing reliance on hospitals

One Medical's clinics are an option for almost 400,000 people. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

One Medical has filed paperwork to go public, and the growing chain of physician offices has made it clear to prospective investors that large, dominant hospital systems are becoming a lot more crucial to its business.

The bottom line: "Our growth depends on maintaining existing, and developing new, strategic affiliations with health network partners," One Medical executives wrote in their IPO filing.

Go deeperArrowJan 7, 2020

Medicare for All's missing mental health discussion

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America's mental health care system is in dire need of an overhaul, but the any real specifics are largely missing from the 2020 debate about health care.

Why it matters: Suicide and drug overdose rates continue to rise, and the U.S. faces a shortage of mental health providers and a lack of access to treatment.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020