Midweek Miscellany

Apro pos of nothing relevant to the FEHBP but certainly demonstrative of the unnecessary complexity of the ACA, the AP reports that the draft application to receive premium subsidies in a health insurance exchange is 15 pages long for a three member family and intrusive to boot. To top it off, health plans, including FEHB plans, will need to spend millions of dollars reporting to the IRS about who they cover beginning next year (IRC §§ 6055, 6006).

The FEHBlog found this interesting ihealthBeat perspective on the HIMSS conference that was held in New Orleans last week. HIMSS is a trade association for electronic health records and related vendors that is of course energized by the billions of dollars that HHS has been granting health care providers to buy EHRs. Next week is the always exciting (at least to the FEHBlog) OPM AHIP FEHBP carrier conference in sunny Arlington, VA.

The FEHBlog also ran across this report about a Consumer Reports survey on the consumer reaction to the summary of benefits and coverage (“SBC”) mandated by the ACA and rolled out last Open Season for the FEHBP and other health plans. Consumer Reports which is a proponent of the form commented that “What these results show us is that the Summary of Benefits and Coverage can make a difference in the consumer health insurance shopping experience – but too few consumers appear to be aware of the form. It’s clear that consumers like the form, but in order to get the most out of it we need to find a way to make sure consumers see the SBC when they are shopping for insurance.” How about requiring the same form for hospitals and doctors — I’m in this network but not that one, I charge $$$ for an office visit.

Finally, the AMA News reports that doctors are bracing for the 2% cut in Medicare payments that the sequester requires for services rendered on or after April 1. What to do? What to do? Hey let’s shift costs onto private sector health plans via higher prices? There’s nothing new there. For the height of chutzpah though check out the Healthcare Supply Chain Association’s Medical Device Tax Watch. This website  mau maus the medical device manufacturers that are shifting the ACA’s 2.3% medical device tax onto their customers just link any other sales tax. What do hospitals and doctors do everyday to make up for inadequate fees from Medicare and Medicaid? Raise prices for private sector health plans. Government initiatives tend to create such cost shifting and the ACA is no exception. But oh the humanity, the Washington Times reports today that the medical device tax is raising prices for veterinary care.

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