Thursday, May 05, 2011

Mid-week miscellany

Fortune Magazine reports on the Secretary of Health and Human Service's ongoing process of developing an essential benefits package as required by the Affordable Care Act. The article explains (as discussed in the FEHBlog) why the outcome of this process is so important. The essential benefits package must be in place for the 2014 calendar year. Qualified health plans operating in the state health insurance exchanges must offer the essential benefits identified by the HHS Secretary.  Employer sponsored plan such as FEHB plans operating outside the exchanges may not impose lifetime or annual dollar limits on HHS designated essential benefits. It's a big deal.

Reuters reports that Larry Merlo, CEO of CVS/Caremark, the pharmacy chain / pharmacy benefit manager, told analysts today that "Let me address the speculation with regards to the future direction of our company, "There are no plans to split up the company."

Kaiser Health News reports on the new trend of health insurers, particularly Medicare Advantage plans, opening urgent care clinics for their members. "By giving urgent care, working longer hours, welcoming walk-ins, and offering care such as IV therapy that is not available at most doctors' offices, the clinic can keep patients from running up big hospital bills." Interesting.

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