• Reflex: December 6, 2011

    U.S. medical ‘trash’ saving lives abroad, reports Allie Torgan. “Doctors will often prepare for surgical procedures by opening instrument and supply kits that contain up to 100 items. Many of these items, such as scalpels, needles or sponges, go unused; they’re just not needed for that particular procedure. But because of government or hospital regulations in the United States, they are frequently thrown away, even when they are still wrapped.” Aaron’s comment: It’s great to see this “trash” being used to save lives in under resourced settings. But I bet there are parts of America that could benefit from them as well.

    Innovative venture between BCBS NC and UNC Health Care opens today, writes David Ranii. The largest insurer in North Carolina and the University of North Carolina health system are opening a joint primary care venture that plans to care for 5,000 patients. Don’s commentthe new venture is called Carolina Advanced and the principals say it was spurred on by the ACO regs put forth in the ACA; their goal is to better coordinate the treatment of heart disease, diabetes and other common ailments. I wrote about it last winter on my old blog. Some other recent blog posts about this local health care market focused on integration/aggregation of market power here and here and here.

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    • I’ve discussed the BCBS/UNCHC joint venture with someone at BCBS, and I’ve wondered about potential conflicts of interest between the two parties. BCBS negotiates payment rates with UNCHC for what must be 20 times more patients than the 5000 in this joint venture. It seems BCBS would learn a good deal of cost information and operational information about UNCHC, which could in turn strengthen the position of BCBS in negotiating reimbursement rates for patients not in the joint venture. I presume this would also aid BCBS in negotiating with other local providers.

      There’s great opportunity for improvement in cost and quality of care from ventures like this, but I wonder whether the potential conflicts between insurers and providers will be a barrier. Both parties here are non-profits, and I imagine the conflicts would be greater in regions where major insurers and/or hospitals are for-profit organizations. I also am curious to see whether conflicts between UNCHC and BCBS arise in the implementation of the joint venture.

      • @Glenn Cassidy
        more than 20x I bet. Also, BCBS NC administers the state employees health plan for which UNC is ultimate referral, so they (BCBS NC) have negotiating experience with everyone in NC.