January 10, 2011

(Limited) Sympathy for the Blue Devil(s)

By Matthew Holt A year on from Wellpoint's ju-jistu move of announcing a 39% rate increase in California, therefore re-invigorating the health care bill and guaranteeing themselves billions in government subsidies, Blue Shield of California, the non-profit rival to Wellpoint's...
January 10, 2011 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Policy, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (4)

December 06, 2010

The Problem with Free Market Healthcare

By JOE FLOWER The right payment structure keeps patients healthy while saving money. We want healthcare to be abundant, effective, easy, and cheap; for too many of us too much of the time it is scarce, ineffective, and maddeningly difficult....
December 6, 2010 in Health care costs, Health Plans, Joe Flower | Permalink | Comments (23)

November 29, 2010

Is This Normal?

By PAUL LEVY This is a story about consumer choice using publicly available information. Unfortunately, it is also about the power of suggestion as used by an incumbent provider organization. The friend who sent me this note is a research...
November 29, 2010 in Health Plans, Patients, Paul Levy | Permalink | Comments (11)

September 12, 2010

Interview: Highmark introduces private label ADAM iphone app

By Matthew Holt A few weeks back Highmark, the big Pennsylvania Blues plan, became one of the first major US insurers to introduce a local navigational iPhone app—a white labeled version of the ADAM tool formerly known as Medzio. I...
September 12, 2010 in Health 2.0, Health Plans | Permalink | Comments (3)

July 21, 2010

Microsoft talks health plans

By Ida Strom Seljeseth At the AHIP conference in Las Vegas in June 2010, Matthew Holt sat down with two leaders in Microsoft's health plan practice: Dennis Schmuland, Director οf U.S. Health Plans Industry Solutions and Hector Rodriguez, Industry Technology...
July 21, 2010 in Health Plans, Microsoft, Technology | Permalink | Comments (2)

July 12, 2010

Wellcare, yes there's more even without(?) Regi

By Matthew Holt A few weeks back we welcomed John Goodman as a contributor at THCB. His first column was more than a tad critical of me for impugning the ethics of Harvard Business School Prof Regina Herzlinger. Herzlinger, you...
July 12, 2010 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 08, 2010

Durenberger: Health Insurance Chickens Come Home to Roost

Former Republican Senator Dave Durenberger was always the sensible Republican on health care. He now hangs out in a small institute called the National Institute of Health Policy at a small Minnesota college called the University of St. Thomas. Every...
July 8, 2010 in Health Plans | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 06, 2010

Bizarre PR pitch of the year so far

By Matthew Holt I get emails from PR companies all the time pimping this or that client, but they don't get a lot stranger than this one. (I‘ve hidden the names to protect the guilty): Subject: Top 3 Reasons Why...
July 6, 2010 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt | Permalink | Comments (5)

June 03, 2010

The NY Times, dogs, sores & Dartmouth critics

By Matthew Holt Today’s NY Times has a confused, woffly attack on Dartmouth from Reed Abelson & Gardiner Harris. This is a dreadful article. Period. That the NY Times printed it is remarkable given the turnaround in thinking by David...
June 3, 2010 in Congress, Consumers, Health 2.0, Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Policy, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (15)

May 25, 2010

Alexandra Drane, fabulous, poacher, with PODCAST

By Matthew Holt One of my favorite people has the (first of) her (several) 15 minutes of fame in the NY Times today. Alex Drane tells all about growing a small business into a pretty big one (although it’s in...
May 25, 2010 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Technology | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 28, 2010

Reg strikes back! Apparently Wellcare were a bunch of crooks after all. Maybe

By Matthew Holt Everyone's favorite Harvard Business School professor is back in the news. Those of you with long memories may remember that at THCB I’ve been a tad critical of Regina Herzlinger’s ideas, her presentation of said ideas and—resulting...
April 28, 2010 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 23, 2010

Well, point-less?

By Matthew Holt OK, so it's a terrible and stolen pun but Wellpoint’s recent history is getting more and more bizarre. First they become the poster child for the recissions scandal (even if not the worst offender)—which eventually helped push...
April 23, 2010 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt | Permalink | Comments (51)

March 17, 2010

Andy Wiesenthal, Kaiser Permanente

By Matthew Holt Those of you with really long memories may remember that Kaiser had a little kerfuffle with a guy named Justen Deal. As part of that incident, I did a rather unorthodox interview with Andy Wiesenthal from The...
March 17, 2010 in Consumers, Electronic Medical Records, Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Technology | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 24, 2010

Bentley & Stanton: Two UK docs talk about Health 2.0

By Matthew Holt Last week in London I met with two of the brightest lights in the UK's community of physicians looking at Health 2.0. Annabel Bentley is the medical director and head of informatics at Bupa, the UK-based non-profit...
February 24, 2010 in e-patients, Health 2.0, Health Plans, International, Matthew Holt | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 20, 2010

Wellpoint: just incompetent?

By Matthew Holt I’m viewing the latest rumblings in the US health care debate from the confines of a clear but cold Britain, where the big news is that the country is joining the PIGS in entering economic meltdown—or at...
February 20, 2010 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Policy, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (84)

February 08, 2010

Tough day for Wellpoint

By Matthew Holt Following my cynicism about the Braly WSJ interview, not only have they been called out by the Secretary of HHS, but now they’re really in trouble. The Mommybloggers are after them…
February 8, 2010 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt | Permalink | Comments (5)

February 07, 2010

Wellpoint's wasted opportunity

By Matthew Holt Sometimes with something so egregious gets written that, even if it’s in the Wall Street Journal, you have to notice it. Angela Braly, the CEO of Wellpoint—compensation a hair under $10m in 2009—ought to be happy, even...
February 7, 2010 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Policy, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (46)

February 01, 2010

Uwe and Heritage agree: we need a tax-funded universal pool

By Matthew Holt When you’re at a party and someone explains to you that they just read a great article in the NY Times explaining why Peggy Noonan doesn’t understand basic math, and you know that they’re referring to Uwe...
February 1, 2010 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Policy, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (47)

January 04, 2010

The five things to pay attention to in 2010

By Matthew Holt There’s no doubt that despite my thoughts that Obama wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) have pushed health reform in 2009, it was a very big year for health care. Death panels, public options et al—one hundred thousand visits to...
January 4, 2010 in Consumers, Dartmouth Atlas, e-patients, Electronic Medical Records, Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Obama administration, Online Communities, Quality, THCB, User Generated Content | Permalink | Comments (29)

December 27, 2009

The Coming Clash over "Cadillac" Plans

By MERRILL GOOZNER Now that the Senate has passed its version of health care reform along partisan lines, let's look ahead to the single biggest issue that will draw the most heat in conference: The tax on so-called "Cadillac plans,"...
December 27, 2009 in Costs, Health Plans, Merrill Goozner, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (44)

December 23, 2009

How Will the Senate Bill Impact the Insurance Companies and Their Customers?

By ROBERT LASZEWSKI How will the Senate bill impact health insurance companies and their customers? Even better, how will it impact a not-for-profit health plan--one with a reputation for being a "good guy" that continually wins the country's top awards...
December 23, 2009 in Health Plans, Insurance, Marketplace, Massachusetts, Reform, Robert Laszewski, Senate | Permalink | Comments (6)

November 30, 2009

The post-reform insurance market, or will Mega survive?

By Matthew Holt I had an interesting call from a member of the legal profession the other day, and it got me thinking about the post-reform prospects for my own particular collection of bete noirs—the insurers who prey on desperate...
November 30, 2009 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Policy, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (7)

November 29, 2009

Karen Ignagni tells the truth, unfortunately

By Matthew Holt There’s a big to-do about whether there are really any cost-saving measures in the House and Senate bill. Most people say that the answers are “no” and “sort of”. There’ll be much more discussion about that on...
November 29, 2009 in Congress, Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Policy, Policy/Politics, Reform | Permalink | Comments (24)

November 20, 2009

So will the public option hurt hospitals? Not in the Ozarks

By Matthew Holt I've had this sitting in my inbox a while, but I thought that with the Senate bill out it was time to have a bit of weekend fun with it. The topic is the fear that a...
November 20, 2009 in Health Plans, Hospitals, Matthew Holt, Policy/Politics, Public Option | Permalink | Comments (13)

November 19, 2009

Sell Patients like Baseball Players - Seriously

By JOE FLOWER Here's a health care reform strategy that I have not heard anywhere else. Think about this: Why aren't health plans more aggressive in promoting the long-term health of their members, like getting them to eat better, stop...
November 19, 2009 in Health Plans, Joe Flower, Patients, Reform | Permalink | Comments (50)

November 12, 2009

Abortion Coverage Is About Math As Well As Politics

By AL LEWIS Let us start by acknowledging that those who think abortion is a sin must be respected, and not forced into a risk pool that covers abortion. Let us also acknowledge that those who are pro-choice need to...
November 12, 2009 in Abortion, Health Plans, Public Option | Permalink | Comments (16)

November 11, 2009

Pay (Only) for Health Care that Works

Charles Silver & David A. Hyman Health care is expensive partly because governmental payers and insurers foot the bill for large quantities of medical services that are ineffective, unnecessary, or unproven. According to a RAND report, studies of clinical efficiency...
November 11, 2009 in Congress, Costs, Health Plans, Policy, Reform | Permalink | Comments (31)

October 24, 2009

Protest Music at AHIP meeting

By Matthew Holt This is much more fun and better sung than traditional protests! And given that AHIP would benefit from a public option, I suspect Karen Ignagni hired them. It looks like it happened in the closing session of...
October 24, 2009 in Health Plans, Policy, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (9)

October 16, 2009

Why AHIP needs the public option

By Matthew Holt It’s been a fun week. After years of THCB explaining that neither could AHIP do genuine research nor could its venerable President open her mouth without lying, the rest of the world has caught on. I won’t...
October 16, 2009 in Charlie Baker, Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Policy, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (37)

October 01, 2009

I was largely in favor of Swiss-style health care...

By Matthew Holt until I found out that the people who the NY Times says are really in favor of it are Bill O'Reilly and Regina Herzlinger… Actually I’m kidding. I knew Regi says she likes it, and Maggie Mahar...
October 1, 2009 in Health Plans, Policy, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (2)

September 30, 2009

Swine flu, uninsurance and not-so fondly remembering the teenage years

By Matthew Holt We get sent lots of rants to our tips line, most of which we ignore in an amused jaundiced way. But this one I found very amusing. I'm not sure it's 100% accurate, but it is very...
September 30, 2009 in Health Plans | Permalink | Comments (5)

September 21, 2009

"Reform" Means Higher Costs, Not Lower

By JOE FLOWER A reader asks: "If the current bill passes are my health insurance costs likely to go up, down, or remain about the same?" If the form that I believe most likely to pass actually passes (insurance reforms,...
September 21, 2009 in Costs, Health Plans, Reform | Permalink | Comments (4)

September 14, 2009

Taxing Health Insurance Companies to Pay for Health Care

By ROBERT LASZEWSKI The Congress has investigated about every conceivable way to tax people to pay for the health care proposals—a millionaire’s tax, bigger taxes on home mortgages and charitable contributions, and a couple of dozen more ideas. Now Congress...
September 14, 2009 in Congress, Health Plans, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (9)

September 08, 2009

Happy Trails, Trigger

By ROGER COLLIER Okay, my apologies to Roy Rogers, but I was pleased to see in the New York Times that the idea of a public plan trigger is finally getting serious consideration by the White House and by Senate...
September 8, 2009 in Health Plans, Reform, Roger Collier, Senate Finance Committee | Permalink | Comments (3)

Healthcare Reform: Strangled In Its Bed

By JOE FLOWER Follow the bouncing ball here: Health care was a mess, cost way too much, sick people getting dropped by insurance companies and left to die and bankrupted and all that. The obvious solution: Go to a single-payer...
September 8, 2009 in Congress, Health Plans, Policy/Politics, Public Option, Reform | Permalink | Comments (3)

September 04, 2009

Winners and Losers - Strategy in a Post-Reform World

By BILL KRAMER Most health policy experts are focusing on the daily ups and downs in the political battles over health reform. Within the health care industry, however, there is a buzz about who will be the winners and losers...
September 4, 2009 in Health Plans, Reform, The Industry | Permalink | Comments (29)

August 20, 2009

Are Cooperatives a Reasonable Alternative to a Public Plan?

By TIMOTHY S. JOST First, a word about history. We have tried cooperatives before. During the 1930s and 1940s, the heyday of the cooperative movement in the United States, the Farm Security Administration encouraged the development of health cooperatives. At...
August 20, 2009 in Cooperatives, Health Plans, History, Public Option, Reform | Permalink | Comments (9)

August 16, 2009

Enthoven's ABCDs and why that socialist Gingrich is wrong on standardized benefits

By Matthew Holt Here's Alain Enthoven's four part plan for fixing healthcare. As THCB regulars might guess, it's familiar and very sensible stuff. (Here’s the PDF) A. Create an exchange with standardized plans, make individuals buy through the exchange and...
August 16, 2009 in Health Plans, Policy, Policy/Politics, Reform | Permalink | Comments (4)

August 15, 2009

Will Hospital Stocks’ Rally Continue?

By DON JOHNSON Since early July, most hospital companies’ stocks have been rallying in anticipation of relief from uncompensated care costs under proposed health insurance reform bills. On Wednesday, however, profit taking hit the stocks in a small way. The...
August 15, 2009 in Health Plans, Hospitals, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (4)

August 14, 2009

KP lawsuit doesn't sniff quite right

By Matthew Holt It’s about time we had a fun Kaiser Permanente scandal, as it’s been a while, and it appears that they’re having some influence on the side of the angels in DC these days. And tracking vis HISTalk...
August 14, 2009 in Health Plans, Policy/Politics, Privacy | Permalink | Comments (9)

August 07, 2009

Op-Ed: A Practicing Doctor's Prescription for Health Care Reform

By JORDAN SHLAIN, MD Our national healthcare system needs a 'step-change', not incremental change. We are facing a vast and complex problem. Let's use it as an opportunity; rather than blaming our nation's health problems solely on corporations, providers, insurers,...
August 7, 2009 in Health Plans, Op-Ed, Rationing, Reform | Permalink

August 04, 2009

Are “Cadillac” health plans the problem?

By BILL KRAMER The debate over proposals to tax health insurance plans is confusing and frustrating. The proposals are usually described as a tax on “gold plated” or “Cadillac” health coverage. According to the media and many spokespeople on the...
August 4, 2009 in Costs, Health Plans, Reform, Taxes | Permalink | Comments (9)

August 03, 2009

Online behavioral health on American Well's platform, and a hint at Cisco/UHG

By Matthew Holt As usual I am way behind on tech and Health 2.0 news but here's one that was "thrown out with the trash" late last week because the service went live on Saturday. American Well has has added...
August 3, 2009 in Health 2.0, Health Plans, Technology | Permalink | Comments (6)

July 24, 2009


By ANONYMOUS I'm retired now, but as a former lawyer, I simply must speak out in opposition to the various health care proposals that are being bandied about. It used to be said that what was good for GM was...
July 24, 2009 in Commentology, Congress, Health Plans, Lawyers, Malpractice | Permalink | Comments (8)

July 15, 2009

House Health Care Reform: Ignoring the Elephant?

By ROGER COLLIER After some frantic last minute political gyrations and a lot of pressure from the President, House Democrats have announced details of their draft health care reform bill. Much as expected, the 852-page bill emerging from three House...
July 15, 2009 in Congress, Health Plans, Policy/Politics, Reform, Roger Collier | Permalink | Comments (26)

July 13, 2009

Eliza gets a nice write up in BusinessWeek

BY MATTHEW HOLT Indeed, it’s so nice that methinks Lucas & Alex were quite seductive! Speaking as a friend and one who’s been indoctrinated into the cult of Alexandra Drane, its interesting to see the mainstream press picking up the...
July 13, 2009 in Health 2.0, Health Plans, Technology | Permalink | Comments (1)

Op-Ed: Forward thinking health plans? Look for the guys with the white hats

By RICHARD NOFFSINGER The public noise about health care reform has painted the parties involved in broad brush strokes that tell consumers which in the fray are the good guys and bad guys. News reports have for so long vilified...
July 13, 2009 in Data Analytics, Electronic Medical Records, Health Plans, Op-Ed | Permalink | Comments (10)

July 10, 2009

Behind the Curtain: Wendell Potter on the Industry's Management of Care and Reform

By BRIAN KLEPPER Stop what you're doing and take out a half-hour to watch this week's superb Bill Moyers' 3-part show, especially the extended interview with Wendell Potter, former CIGNA VP Corporate Communications, for a frank, insider's discussion of how...
July 10, 2009 in Brian Klepper, Health Plans, Policy/Politics, Reform | Permalink | Comments (10)

June 30, 2009

Rantology: Cannon on Freedom or Power?

By Matthew Holt Ah-ha. Michael Cannon has now replied to me and it basically comes down in his mind to me being a crypto-fascist Stalinist wanting to break the will of the American people mediated through its representatives, the health...
June 30, 2009 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Policy, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (27)

June 27, 2009

A little more on insurers, and reform means more of the same

By Matthew Holt In the comments on my piece on Michael Cannon (which Michael has not commented on sadly, as I was hoping for a nice fight! Michael has replied here and I'll reply back on Monday), everyone’s favorite insurance...
June 27, 2009 in Health Plans, Matthew Holt, Policy/Politics | Permalink | Comments (31)