✦ Humana Inc. announced a deal with IBM Corp. that will offer the insurer’s commercial group members an online chat virtual assistant based on IBM’s Watson Health conversational artificial intelligence software. The service will be available to all of Humana’s 1.3 million employer group medical members and 1.8 million of Humana’s employer group dental members. A press release noted that “consumers who do not understand how their health plan works or how to estimate out-of-pocket costs are more likely to delay or avoid essential care,” and positioned the agreement as a solution to that problem. Read more at http://huma.na/3qcVnn3.
✦ The American Hospital Association (AHA) sent a letter to CMS calling on the agency to investigate UnitedHealth Group’s diagnostic testing and specialty pharmacy benefit designs. The letter accused UnitedHealth’s recently announced “Designated Diagnostic Provider” program of being an attempt to “eliminate coverage for diagnostic tests at most freestanding and hospital labs while continuing to portray these providers as ‘in-network’ to health plan enrollees.” It also criticized UnitedHealth’s policy requiring providers to use drugs purchased and handled by the health plan and its OptumRx specialty pharmacy subsidiary. The AHA suggests that the policy might prevent “appropriate storage and handling of those drugs.” Read the letter at https://bit.ly/375XGkq.