Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday highlights

Health care policy expert Robert Moffit wrote a column discussing the downside of the Administration's proposal to carve out FEHBP drug benefits from the carriers to OPM.  He points out that
Today, if you are in the FEHBP and you don’t like a health plan’s drug coverage, you dump that plan and get a better one. Tomorrow, if Obama’s allies in Congress are successful, you will not have that option: You will get the restricted range of drug options that government officials decide to give you. That’s the way it’s done in Medicaid, for example, the poorly performing welfare program for the poor and the indigent.
All of this disruption would produce $1.6 billion of savings over ten years (according to the Administration) in a program that currently costs $43 billion a year. You may not agree with Dr.Moffit's employer, the Heritage Foundation, but it's hard to argue with his reasoning.

The federal government appropriately encourages veterans to join the federal workforce. Consequently, there are a lot of veterans in the FEHBP.  In the early part of the last decade, Congress created a TRICARE for Life program that effectively "carved out" a large number of Medicare eligible military retirees from the FEHBP because the TRICARE for Life program does not charge premiums to participants. Since then, the cost of the TRICARE for Life program has grown like Topsy. reports that
Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., last week submitted recommendations to the deficit reduction super committee in support of the Obama administration's cost-saving proposal released last month. The plan would mandate annual fees under TRICARE-for-Life, which pays beneficiaries' out-of-pocket Medicare costs. Fees would start at $200 in 2012 and increase annually to align with those paid by all TRICARE enrollees.
You have to watch that second bounce of the ball.

Benefits Pro reports that "new survey results from Mercer show employees are willing to take on higher ou-of-pocket costs if it means they get to keep their health benefits.

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