Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday's Tidbits

Today was the deadline for commenting on the HHS Essential Benefits Bulletin, and AHIP submitted an interesting comment letter. The FEHBlog was puzzled by the Bulletin's statements that state benefit mandates don't add that much to health plan costs. The AHIP comments blow that statement out of the water. Fortunately, federal law exempts FEHB plans from those state benefit mandates. FEHB plans, of course, are subject to federal mandates, such as those created by the Affordable Care Act.

OPM has informed agencies to consult a recent IRS notice giving employers a heads up on compliance with the Affordable Care Act requirement that 2012 W-2s include a block informing the employee about the cost of employer-sponsored health care coverage, including FEHBP coverage.

Modern Healthcare reports about a sobering Congressional Budget Office report projecting that federal healthcare outlays will double over the next decade.

A Wellpoint press release today announced that  "Medical and pharmacy benefits managed by Wellpoint’s affiliated [Blue Cross Blue Shield] health plans are linked to lower medical costs of $8 to $16 per employee monthly compared to those without an integrated pharmacy program, according to an independently verified analysis of members in WellPoint’s health plans."  This is latest study militating against OPM's legislative proposal to carve out FEHBP prescription dru contracting to the agency.

Two articles tickled the FEHBlog's funny bone:
  • The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog points out that doctors represent a large percentage of the the fabled 1% that the Occupy Wall Street movement has assailed.  "Fully 27% of doctors are     1%ers -- the highest percentage of all occupations, including lawyers.
  • The AMA News reports about the one diagnosis that patients miss -- "cyberchondria." In other words, the 1% is growing frustrated with the members of the 99% who attempt to self diagnosis their illnesses on the internet.

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