Site-neutral payments central to BCBS Association’s $767B savings plan

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has released a set of policy proposals it says will reduce U.S. healthcare costs by $767 billion over 10 years.

BCBSA said its plan would lead to federal savings of $337 billion, a $298 billion reduction in commercial insurance premiums, and a decrease of $206 billion in out-of-pocket costs for Medicare and commercial plans, according to a Jan. 24 news release.

The proposals are broken into three core concepts and come as average employer-sponsored premiums for a family plan reached $22,221 in 2021, or one-third of the median household income.

"BCBSA has led efforts in the private market to make healthcare more affordable, but policy action is needed," President and CEO Kim Keck said. "We urge Congress to enact solutions that can cut costs by more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars by fostering competition, fixing drug pricing, and improving the care that patients receive."

BCBSA's proposed solutions: 

1. Improve provider competition

The association recommends expanding existing site-neutral payment policies so that providers bill for services uniformly across facilities, and requiring appropriate billing to reduce errors and ensure accurate reimbursements. The proposal also advocates for expanding the Federal Trade Commission through more funding so that it can better regulate anti-competitive behavior.

2. Boost access to cheap prescription drugs

The proposed solution advocates for preserving payers' ability to work with physicians and patients, placing more limits on direct-to-consumer advertising from drug manufacturers, and supporting federal funding of comparative drug effectiveness research.

3. Move away from fee-for-service

The association would like payers to have more flexibility around promoting telehealth, to modernize prior authorization processes, improve healthcare data interoperability and develop more value-based care models around commercial and government plans.

Read the full proposal here.

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