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PWC on 2011

By January 10, 2011Commentary

PWC’s Health Research Institute has given its opinion on the top health care issues for 2011.  (PWC Report) The issues are the continuing boom in HIT; changes in health insurance, such as the exchanges and MLR regulation; accountable care organizations; the effect of cost-shifting on consumer health utilization; merger and acquisition activity; and the impact of online and similar technologies.  The report gives brief explanations of the likely impact of each.

Along with the analysis is some enlightening consumer survey information.  Only 14% of consumers currently access their medical records electronically and most have not been asked by their physicians how or if they would like to be able to access them.  Forty-four% didn’t know what an EHR was, although that actually seems low.  72% of consumers said they would trade their workplace health insurance for a salary increase, although most would accept too low an increase for family coverage and too high an increase for single coverage.   Only a third of consumers were familiar with ACOs and about half said they would not get all their care inside an ACO if they were assigned to one.

As we have seen from other research, high deductible plans are growing rapidly, and coinsurance is beginning the same rate of ascent.  This cost-shifting is beginning to have an impact on consumer care seeking.  To ensure that consumers are incented to make good choices, more employers are looking at value-based benefit designs.  Acquisitions have always been a method to expand capabilities and grow market-share and health reform and cost pressures continue to drive that trend in health care.  Larger pharma firms use M & A to fill pipelines.  Some payers use it to try to secure a place in the new world; for example by offering health information exchange services.

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