Interesting Developments

  • HIPAA requires HHS to create a national patient identifier. Congress has blocked funding this initiative based on privacy concerns. Now according to, the RAND Corp. has issued a study concluding that “Creating a unique patient identification number for every person in the United States would facilitate a reduction in medical errors, simplify the use of EMRs and help protect patient privacy.” I can’t see how the National Health Information Network can succeed without a patient identifier.
  • Aetna will begin next month to permit its members to transfer their electronic personal health records to Microsoft’s Healthvault. According to an AP report, Aetna believes that this option will reassure members that their personal health records are portable. “About 40 companies currently allow customers to store information on it, a list that includes hospitals and CVS (NYSE:CVS) Caremark’s Minute Clinic. Aetna would be the first health benefits company to do so, according to Microsoft.”
  • The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has released its annual report on consumer driven health plans (“CDHP”). The report finds that “CDHP enrollment is up 25 percent and consumers enrolled in CDHPs were 30 percent more likely to track their health expenses than consumers in more traditional health insurance plans.”
  • The National Conference of State Legislatures released a report comparing individual and family health insurance premiums nationally and by state over the years 2004 – 2008. “In 2008 the average fully insured individual faced an employee share of $725 for 1-person coverage (out of a total premium of $4704) and a $3,983 annual share for family coverage (out of a total premium of $12,680).” Those employee shares represent 15.1% of the self only premium and 31.4% of the family premium. In the FEHB Program, civil service employees (5 U.S.C. § 8906) by statute pay at last 25% of the total premium.