TGIF

Following up on the last FEHBlog post, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that “Investors reacted with surprise to WellPoint Inc.’s  choice of hospital executive Joseph R. Swedish as its new chief executive, sending the company’s shares down 4.6% Wednesday as many scrambled to learn more about the incoming leader of the second-largest health insurer.” Again illustrating that the choice was bold. (Not to mention the fact that Mr. Swedish is 61.)

The Wall Street Journal also published an interesting interview with the head of Deloitte’s Center for Health Care Solutions about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on individuals, employers, States, and healthcare providers. One of his observations which the FEHBlog has noted is that the law pushes health care providers to consolidate and that tends to raise prices.  The article concludes that “The next couple of years will bring the biggest changes to the American health-care system since the advent of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. We’re about to find out if they’re for the better.”  Hey, it’s the FEHBlog’s job to belabor the obvious.

Mobile Health News reports on an Inmedica study finding that in anticipation of a flood of new patients next year. “the American telehealth market is predicted to grow by 600 percent between 2012 and 2017. While there are currently 227,000 US telehealth patients, according to InMedica, that figure is forecast to reach up to 1.3 million patients in 2017. US telehealth revenues, meanwhile, will jump from $174.5 million last year to $707.9 million in 2017.” it will be interesting to see how health insurers react to this development.

Finally, AHIP reports on a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress to repeal the health insurer tax or fee. This is a particularly insane provision of the Affordable Care Act that will saddle health insurers with a fee that starts next year at $ billion and ramps up tp $14.3 billion in 2018 and keeps rising after that.. To add insult to injury, the law does not permit insurers to deduct the fee as a business expenses on their corporate tax returns. This double whammy will cost “an average family will pay over $300 in higher premiums, seniors
enrolled in Medicare Advantage will face $220 in reduced benefits and higher
out-of-pocket costs, and state Medicaid managed care plans will incur an
additional $80 in costs for each person covered.”   Cost curve up.

The federal government has created a Healthmap vaccination provider finder to help people find out where to get vaccinated. For the FEHBlog’s neighborhood the #1 choice is a local CVS MinuteClinic. That can’t make the AMA happy.

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