A new health insurance exchange announced last week by a large retailer is betting that analysts who predict that roughly 40 million people will buy their health plans through a private online marketplace by 2018 are right.
Sam’s Club, a membership shopping division of Wal-Mart Stores, said it is partnering with Aetna to build a healthcare exchange exclusively for its shoppers who are small-business owners. Sam’s Club says about 600,000 small-business owners, most of whom have fewer than seven employees, purchase items at its stores every day. Most private exchanges are geared toward an employer’s workers, but Sam’s Club’s exchange is different, targeting a specific subset of its customers.
A group of hospitals that participate in the federal 340B drug-discount program have joined the debate about Genentech’s decision to distribute three of its most expensive and commonly used cancer drugs through specialty distributors rather than standard wholesalers.
In an Oct. 16 letter to Genentech’s CEO, the Safety Net Hospitals for Pharmaceutical Access said the change in distribution methods will increase costs for safety net healthcare providers. “When safety net providers buy medications from wholesalers, they receive rebates based on purchase volume,” wrote SNHPA’s general counsel. “They do not get these rebates when they buy drugs from wholesalers’ specialty divisions, however.”
Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California, an academic medical center based in Los Angeles, has agreed to develop a network of ambulatory surgery centers throughout the area with Surgical Care Affiliates, a publicly traded operator of surgical centers.
Industry observers, including Moody’s Investors Service, view ambulatory surgery centers as a growing business line. However, surgery center safety was thrown into the national spotlight last month after comedian Joan Rivers died following an endoscopy performed at an outpatient center.