UnitedHealthcare Launches Care-Focused Telehealth Insurance Plan

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UnitedHealthcare is the nation’s largest insurer, and the goal is to make telemedicine more affordable and accessible – but survey reported by NPR notes that “most” people still prefer in-person medical services, even if telehealth works “correctly”. Medicaid, Amazon and many others are also in the news.

Stat: UnitedHealthcare Launches First Virtual Health Insurance Plan

The pandemic has caused a mad rush to figure out how to provide health care virtually. As the dust settles, UnitedHealthcare, the country’s largest insurer, is laying the groundwork for the future with a health plan built primarily around telemedicine services designed to be more affordable and accessible. (Aguilar, 10/18)

NPR: Telehealth is OK, say patients, but most prefer in-person appointments

New Yorker Charlie Freyre’s sinuses had been bothering him for weeks last winter, during a wave of COVID-19 in the city. This was before vaccines became widely available. “I was just trying to stay in my apartment as much as possible,” Freyre says, so seeing her doctor through an online appointment “just seemed like a more convenient option. And you know, it was very simple and very easy. The $ 20 co-payment was well worth it for the 26-year-old ad salesman, whose girlfriend also regularly relies on telehealth to see her nutritionist. “It’s a very easy way to get an expert opinion without necessarily having to leave your apartment,” filling out forms or spending free time in waiting rooms, says Freyre. “We all know what a visit to the doctor can be like.” (Noguchi, 10/18)

In the news about Medicare and Medicaid –

Modern healthcare: insurers want CMS to reject ‘breakthrough’ technology blanket rule

Insurers are backing the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ plan to repeal a Trump-era rule allowing Medicare to cover medical devices designated as “breakthrough” technology by the United States Food and Drug Administration, according to the U.S. public comments on the proposed rule. Payers, patient safety advocates and independent experts had recommended President Joe Biden’s administration reverse the rule, citing concerns about patient safety and questions about the value of automatically providing Medicare coverage for unproven technologies. Had the rule of origin come into effect, CMS would have lost its ability to withdraw approval from devices that would later prove to be unsafe for people on Medicare. (Brady, 10/18)

In other healthcare industry news –

Stat: Amazon strengthens healthcare lobbying operation

Amazon is stepping up its efforts to influence health care policy at the federal and state levels. The tech giant recently hired Claire Winiarek, a senior policy official at the professional association of pharmacy benefit managers, as director of health policy. And Amazon has launched a search for three other health policy advocates who will focus on federal health policy, health devices and services, and state-level health policy, according to posts on LinkedIn this month. -this. (Cohrs, 10/19)

Philadelphia investigator: Tower Health denied property tax exemption for three Chester County hospitals

A Chester County judge rejected Tower Health’s offer of property tax exemptions for hospitals in Brandywine, Jennersville and Phoenixville, saying those operations had become too similar to for-profit businesses and did not deserve to be exempt from property taxes. The decision is another blow to Tower, who has vowed to appeal as she struggles to reverse large losses. This is a rare loss for any nonprofit hospital. The ruling also shows how healthcare is becoming increasingly complicated and remote from its philanthropic roots, at least according to a judge. (Brubaker, 10/19)

Stat: Doctor On Demand, The Grand Rounds Company Begins To Take Shape

In May, two private healthcare tech startups – Doctor on Demand and Grand Rounds – announced their merger, creating a new company focused on both managing how patients receive healthcare and delivering healthcare. of this care, virtually. On Monday, the combined company unveiled a new name: Inclus Health. (Herper, 10/18)

Detroit Free Press: CVS Health Appoints Khaldun Its First Health Equity Officer

Dr Joneigh Khaldhun, who led Michigan for the first 18 months of the coronavirus pandemic as state medical director, has been named CVS Health’s vice president and director of health equity, announced Monday the company. “His expertise in creating solutions to help improve health outcomes will help us continue to address health inequalities for the clients and the communities we serve,” said Dr. Kyu Rhee, vice president senior at CVS and CMO of Aetna, in a statement. (Jordan Shamus, Butcher and Hall, 10/18)

Modern healthcare: expect a permanent pay rise in healthcare, experts say

Health workforce labor costs will remain higher than pre-pandemic levels, prompting new recruitment and retention strategies. Almost all of the 73 health system administrators surveyed have struggled to fill vacancies as clinical staff run out, according to a new poll from Kaufman Hall. Almost three-quarters of executives increased salaries for clinicians accordingly, while about 90% increased salaries for support staff. (Kacik, 10/18)

KHN: hygienists brace for pitched battles with dentists in fights over practice laws

This year, the Illinois legislature was considering measures to expand oral health treatment in a state where millions of people live in dental care deserts. But when the Illinois State Dental Society virtually met with key lawmakers for its annual Spring Lobby Day, proposals to allow dental hygienists to clean the teeth of some underprivileged patients without a dentist seemed doomed to failure. (Bruce, 10/19)

And in the news about the spread of MRSA –

CIDRAP: Elbow bumps can transfer MRSA just as much as fist bumps

Researchers at Cleveland VA Medical Center have reported that a fist bump and elbow bump are associated with frequent transfer of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Elbow bumps have been used more and more as greetings over fist bumps and handshakes with the idea that they reduce the potential for the transfer of pathogenic microorganisms. To test this hypothesis, the researchers enrolled 40 patients isolated for MRSA colonization and matched them with a research staff member wearing sterile gloves and a piece of cotton cloth on their elbows. Each MRSA colonized patient performed a greeting with a staff member using their right fist or elbow, and a greeting using their left fist or elbow, with the order of greetings alternating between consecutive participants. The researchers then analyzed the fists and elbows of patients colonized with MRSA, as well as the gloves and elbow pads of staff members, for the presence of MRSA. (10/18)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of coverage of health policies by major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.


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