Health Insurer's Collaboration With Universities Aims to Create Solutions for Unaffordable Care


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is partnering with 11 Universities to study challenges that increase costs.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBTX) will be partnering with universities throughout the state in an effort to advance research addressing gaps and fragmentation in the health care system that lead to inflated costs, according to a press release from the company.

The 11 university research institutions are working on projects that support BCBTX’s research objective. These widely ranging projects address different challenges in affordable health care, such as behavioral health, vaccination rates, and using clinical data to evaluate patterns and indicators of fragmentation, according to the statement.

There are complex research projects that fulfill the company’s Affordability Cures initiative, including studies on drug cost and adherence. These projects include an examination of the impact of de-prescribing unnecessary or costly medications in older adults, at the McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston; research on the optimization of clinical health information technology to improve adult vaccination delivery, at University of Texas at Austin; and studying whether programs that encourage widespread peritoneal dialysis can reduce costs at Baylor College of Medicine.

Other universities will be targeting specific underserved populations in their research. Scientists at Texas Tech University will be studying the perception of health care providers, health insurance, and the concept of health care and gauging consumers perception of affordability in Latino populations in Texas; and the University of Texas Dell Medical school will examine ways to increase access to health care in low access areas.

Some schools will focus on the impact of mental health on health care costs, such as examining social and economic consequences of untreated mental illnesses of underserved populations in rural areas, at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler; and evaluating the impact of the SMARTD—Screening, Measurement, Assessment of Response to Treatment for Depression—model as a point-of-care method of depression screening and treatment that utilizes a web-based application to enable care, at the UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Another option for universities is examining the legislative and legal challenges that affect health care costs. Researchers at Rice University will be looking at the effect of laws and policies on health care costs and outcomes; while Tarleton State University will study fraud detections in health claims data.

The University of Texas MD Anderson will be taking on a 2-fold project that includes examining vertical integration to reduce preventable variation in utilization and speed up the provision of patient centered, value-based care. The university will also explore the use of telemedicine to relieve the financial burden of chronic cancer survivors—patients who have been taking targeted oral anticancer medications long term.

Lastly, the University of Texas at Tyler will be going an alternative route and focusing on education, by creating master’s and PhD-level Health Administration programs to improve medical professionals’ knowledge of health insurance, including a month-long residency rotation for medical residents.

In a prepared statement, executives at BCBSTX noted the importance of collaboration in creating solutions for unaffordable health care.

“Failure to address access and affordability of health care has real consequences. We need to challenge the status quo by bringing transformative research and ideas to the table,” said Dan McCoy, President, BCBSTX. “By collaborating with a diverse set of institutions and researchers who are embedded in and understand the communities we’re serving, we can better identify and develop solutions that tackle high health care costs at its foundation.”


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas Joins Forces with Universities Statewide to Identify Solutions to Fragmentation and Costs in Health Care [news release]. Richardson, Texas; February 19, 2019: BlueCross BlueShield website. Accessed March 1, 2019.

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