With healthcare costs still rising, insurers have begun reintroducing the unpopular managed-care techniques that triggered a consumer and provider backlash in the 1990s, according to a study by the Center for Studying Health System Change. The study, based on interviews with healthcare executives and industry officials in 12 nationally representative communities, found that health plans are more often requiring preauthorization for outpatient services and specialist referrals. It also found that plans are reviewing inpatient services while patients are still hospitalized in an effort to shorten stays and reviewing claims to profile providers based on healthcare use and quality. Both insurers and employers also are pushing newer, cost-shifting changes in benefit design, such as increasing patients' copayments and coinsurance and offering lower-cost plans to enrollees who agree to limit their choice of providers or accept high deductibles. The center's report was published on Health Affairs' Web site. Read an abstract or the report. -- by Laura B. Benko
Unpopular managed-care tools re-emerging
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