Mike Causey in Federal News Radio is not upbeat about the Federal Benefits Open Season in today's column. He laments that
Members of Congress and many congressional staffers were moved out of the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program this year. So, if somebody suggests federal (and postal) workers pay a bigger share of future premiums, Congress — now that it no longer benefits — is more likely to say it's a great idea. Or to propose a voucher system to pay premiums.It's not that gloomy because Members of Congress and their official staffers can return to the FEHBP upon retirement.
A fun read is the article with 50 things to know about 5 leading payers in Becker's Hospital Review. The first item is "Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna was founded in 1853, and Eliphalet A. Bulkeley was the company's first president." Now that's a first name that you don't find used much anymore.
The Wall Street Journal's Pharmalot blog discusses an analysis by the Drug Channels blogger concluding that half of all generic drug sold be retailers over the past year have risen in price.
Not all of the reasons for such increases are immediately clear but, in general, [Adam] Fein [the blogger] cites shortages as a prime culprit. And shortages typically occur for different reasons – manufacturers sometimes exit at a market if profit margins are insufficient, manufacturing glitches can cause supply disruptions and FDA crackdowns on plants with production lapses have also been blamed for slowdownsThe article also explains that the median change in generic drug prices was zero because the price of the other half of generic drugs declined. Prescription drug pricing is simply unpredictable.
Kaiser Health News has a similarly themed report about the wide range of hospital rack rates for common blood tests. "One California hospital charged $10 for a blood cholesterol test, while another hospital that ran the same test charged $10,169." Stunning. As Kramer said retail is for suckers, but the rack rates can be the base for negotiating the network price.