Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekend Update / Miscellany

  • OPM is beginning to gear up for the upcoming Federal Benefits Open Season which will begin on November 10 and end on December 8, 2008.
  • On a related Open Season note, the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) "estimates that the average monthly premium that beneficiaries will pay for standard Part D coverage in 2009 will be $28. This is about 37 percent lower than originally projected when the benefit was established in 2003." Medicare beneficiaries will have their annual Open Season later this year as well. "In addition to average premiums for 2009, CMS has announced: the 2009 national average monthly bid; the base beneficiary premium; the regional low-income subsidy premium amounts for 2009; and the 2009 Medicare Advantage regional preferred provider organization benchmarks."
  • The Washington Post reported on a Bethesda MD company Wellnet Healthcare which is launching a social network for doctors,patients, and insurance company disease / case managers called Point to Point Healthcare. The article points out that the unproven service has competitors like Google Health, Steve Case's Revolution Health, and an Arlington VA start-up Healthcentral. I was struck by this comment from an HR manager whose company has signed up with Wellnet:
    Janice Algie, Peterson's director of human resources, said she wondered if her employees would use more online tools like Point to Point. "It's difficult to get them involved in their own health care," she said. "Every time a claim is processed, whether it's health insurance and dental insurance, it's submitted and tells them what they owe. I can't tell you how many employees look at those. Even though they have online access, they still don't look at them." But perhaps it's generational, Algie said. With few entry-level positions, about 45 percent of Peterson's workforce is age 40 and above.

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