Feb 24, 2020 - Health

Insurer-owned clinics are taking on hospitals and physicians for patients

Illustration: Axios Visuals

Insurer-owned clinics are increasingly competing with hospitals and physicians for patients, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: Doctor groups and hospitals have invested heavily in purchasing physician practices, and are worried about insurers steering patients toward their own clinics.

For example: UnitedHealth Group's Optum arm has amassed doctor practices, surgery centers and urgent-care clinics. Aetna — which was acquired by CVS — has MinuteClinics. And Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Texas has recently opened clinics with a partner company.

  • Some plans favor care received by their own providers, although how many doctors a plan owns in any given market varies greatly.
  • "It's very worrisome for hospitals," Chas Roades, a health-care consultant, told WSJ. "Suddenly, the plan you're relying on for payment is also competing with you at the front end of the delivery system."

The big picture: Plans built around their own clinics generally have more limited doctor and hospital options, but that can lower premiums.

  • It can also benefit insurers by keeping revenue all under the same umbrella.

Go deeper: Insurers may not pay for care they've approved

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Walmart to expand its low-cost health care centers

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Walmart is looking to expand its role in health care delivery, Bloomberg reports.

Details: Walmart stores already frequently house pharmacies and vision centers, but its new health centers — there are two so far — would offer more comprehensive medical, vision and dental care, along with X-rays and lab tests.

Go deeperArrowFeb 26, 2020 - Health

Hospitals' next steps for coronavirus influx

Hospitals are dusting off their pandemic preparedness plans in anticipation of overcrowded waiting rooms and supply shortages as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread.

The big picture: Hospitals are preparing for tens of millions of cases and millions of hospitalizations from COVID-19.

Go deeperArrowMar 12, 2020 - Health

Colorado offers lessons for Democrats on creating a public option

Gov. Jared Polis leaves the Colorado State House floor on Jan. 9. Photo: AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Colorado lawmakers are preparing to vote on the state's public option proposal, providing an example of what happens when politicians take on the health care industry, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Democrats by and large want to do the same thing on a national scale, but promising more affordable coverage for everyone is a lot easier than actually passing legislation to make it happen.

Go deeperArrowFeb 27, 2020 - Health