In the News: Aug 16–23

Alphabet Invests in Tech-Focused Insurance Company

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has announced plans to invest $375 million into Oscar Health—a health insurance company most widely known for its expansion into individual insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—who plans to use the money to enter the Medicare Advantage (MA) market. This investment comes in the wake of the CMS expansion of services private health plans can offer seniors in MA plans earlier this year. Oscar Health CEO and cofounder Mario Schlosser explained that Alphabet’s investments will help the company improve its internal infrastructure, clinical management system and consumer-facing technologies like on-demand concierge insurance apps.

Currently, just under 35% of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in MA plans, but that number is expected to rise to more than 40% by the end of 2025. This migration of beneficiaries into MA will require health systems to develop an MA strategy tailored to their market. To learn more about how health systems can adapt to the changing MA landscape, check out the Sg2 on-demand webinar Medicare Advantage: Planning for Growth.

Millennial Nurses Plan on Seeking Advanced Degrees

A recent Modern Healthcare article shares the results from a survey by health care staffing agency AMN Healthcare, which found that nearly half of millennial nurses and 35% of Generation X nurses plan on seeking advanced degrees, mostly to become advanced practice nurses. Nurse practitioner is among the fastest growing professions in the United States, as it offers educational progress as well as a more independent and challenging work environment.

These findings suggest that while the pursuit of advanced degrees can address care gaps resulting from primary care physician shortages, this trend can also exacerbate the shortage of registered nurses (RN) and increase gaps in direct patient care. An aging population and an increased need for chronic disease management will continue to drive the need for RNs, with RN shortages projected to persist through 2030 across several states.

Sg2 believes the use of advanced practitioners (APs) will continue to grow, with estimates suggesting APs will deliver nearly one-third of all primary care by 2020. For more information on how to best deploy APs to contribute to a more accessible and efficient health care system, watch the Sg2 on-demand webinar Optimizing Use of Advanced Practitioners: Staying Ahead of the Curve.

93.7% of Eligible Children Participated in Medicaid/CHIP in 2016

A recent Health Affairs article analyzed a 690,000-children dataset from the 2016 American Community Survey (ACS) and found that Medicaid/CHIP participation reached 93.7% among eligible children in 2016, rising 5% from 2013, which represents a decrease of 1.7 million uninsured Medicaid/CHIP eligible children.

Nationally in 2016, Medicaid/CHIP programs reached over 90% of their target children population in all but 5 states, and participation was above 97% in 4 states. On average, participation in 2016 was higher in states that expanded Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) than in those that didn’t. The authors also found that in all states, participation among eligible parents and childless adults remained lower than children.

Despite participation gains by eligible Medicaid/CHIP enrollees, enrollment growth has slowed since 2016. New restrictions in state enrollment and reduced funding for general ACA outreach that may reduce coverage for parents could affect children’s coverage as well. For key trends and drivers impacting the pediatric landscape, register for the upcoming Sg2 webinar Pediatrics Landscape 2018.

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