Top 5 payer stories of 2019

Layoffs at UnitedHealthcare, CMS' annual Medicare star ratings and a new imaging program for Walmart employees were among the payer stories that piqued the interest of readers this past year.

Below are the five most popular payer stories published by Becker's Hospital Review in 2019.

1. UnitedHealthcare issues layoffs in Minnesota
In October, UnitedHealthcare, the health insurance arm of UnitedHealth Group, laid off an undisclosed number of employees in Duluth, Minn.

2. The 2019 Medicare plans with 5 stars
CMS released its report card for Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans Oct. 10. Medicare ranks Medicare Advantage and Part D plans on a quality scale of one to five stars, with five representing excellent performance and one reflecting poor performance. CMS also pays bonuses to plans with high ratings.

3. Walmart steering employees to 800 imaging centers to avoid misdiagnoses
Walmart is recommending its employees use one of 800 imaging centers found to provide more accurate diagnoses. The move came after Walmart officials discovered that about half of the company's workers who underwent back surgery in the past few years actually didn't need those operations due to misdiagnosis.

4. United-TeamHealth snafu may have industrywide effects: Moody's
A contract dispute between UnitedHealth Group and physician staffing company TeamHealth could indirectly affect hospitals and other providers, according to credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service.

5. BCBS of Mass. CEO: Global payment success 'shows we don't have to wait for political consensus to act in healthcare'
A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts' global budget payments slowed down spending growth while improving healthcare quality — achieving what BCBS of Massachusetts' CEO referred to as the "holy grail in healthcare": higher quality at a lower cost.

More articles on payers:
Aetna, Cigna and BCBS hit with fines over improper denials in California
HCSC to lay off dozens of employees after exec exits
Cigna sells group insurance unit for $6.3B

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