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New postings and analysis from Health Affairs, the leading journal of health policy. Health Affairs publishes new research each week online at For more information, contact Chris Fleming at 301-347-3944.

Health Affairs To Launch Blog On October 5

We are pleased to announce that after 25 years as a bimonthly print journal and six years in online publishing, Health Affairs is entering the blogosphere as a new means of engaging readers in the health policy debate. The blog will launch on October 5 with several posts from leading health policy experts focusing on "Redefining Health Care," a new book on health care reform by Michael Porter and Elizabeth Olmstead Teisberg. Our goal is to offer a range of views—not to push a particular agenda. We encourage everyone to join the discussion by commenting on the blog - we ask only that you register and use your real name. Readers who wish to be informed about new postings may sign up for e-mail alerts or an RSS feed.

Premium Growth For Employer Coverage Moderates Slightly In 2006

Premiums for employer-sponsored health coverage rose an average 7.7 percent in 2006, less than the 9.2 percent increase recorded in 2005 and the recent peak of 13.9 percent in 2003, according to results from the 2006 Employer Health Benefits Survey published September 26 in a Health Affairs Web Exclusive. This year's survey, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and the Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET), recorded the slowest rate of premium growth since 2000; however, premiums still increased more than twice as fast as workers' wages (3.8 percent) and overall inflation (3.5 percent). The survey also found a modest 2.7 million workers in "consumer-driven" plans, which are high-deductible plans with a tax-favored savings option. About 4 percent of covered workers are enrolled in such plans, a rate statistically no different from last year.

Study Questions Reimbursement Policy For Epoetin

Dennis Cotter, president of the Medical Technology and Practice Patterns Institute Inc., and his coauthors examine the case of the anemia drug epoetin, manufactured by Amgen, as an example of how a reimbursement policy insufficiently tied to actual patient outcomes has led to the suboptimal use of a drug. Cotter and his coauthors offer several recommendations to improve the Medicare coverage and reimbursement process, including avoiding overreliance on observational studies, often sponsored by industry, as opposed to rigorously controlled randomized clinical trials; carefully scrutinizing clinical practice guidelines sponsored by manufacturers; requiring independently funded postmarketing research; and requiring physicians and facilities to submit physiological evidence of patient improvement for reimbursement.

Print editions of Health Affairs may be ordered for $35 each from Health Affairs' Customer Service at 301-347-3900 or online at

Authors Discuss Challenges Of Linking Coverage To Data Collection

Attracting public and private funding and support for "coverage with evidence development" (CED) - the practice of linking coverage of medical treatments to prospective data collection -- will likely require establishing an "organization with the scientific credibility, political independence, and technical expertise to manage these projects successfully and efficiently," say Sean Tunis and Stephen Pearson. Tunis, who oversaw coverage policy at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from 2000 to 2005, was intimately involved in developing the agency's pioneering CED policy, a process that is discussed in the article.


Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. The nonpartisan, peer-reviewed journal appears bimonthly in print, with additional online-only papers published weekly as Health Affairs Web Exclusives at The full text of each Health Affairs Web Exclusive is available free of charge to all Web site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which it switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. The abstracts of all articles are free. The Sep/Oct 2006 issue was supported principally by the Blue Shield of California Foundation with additional support from Amgen and Genentech. Web Exclusives are supported in part by a grant from the Commonwealth Fund.


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