Midweek Update

The FEHBlog is writing today principally to make sure that his readers are aware that he made a mistake in yesterday’s post. That post indicated that new U.S. Public Service Task Force “A” or “B” recommendations must be implemented in the plan year immediately following their issuance.  In fact, the ACA regulations provide that implementation occurs in the plan year that begins one year after implementation. Consequently, the expanded HIV testing recommendation discussed yesterday will be implemented in the FEHBP in 2015, not 2014. Thanks to a friend for pointing out the FEHBlog’s error.

“Retail is for suckers.” – Kramer in The Glasses episode of Seinfeld.  The Washington Post reports that the federal government is now posting hospital retail rates for major procedures.

The hospital charges being released Wednesday — all from 2011 [in one massive excel spreadsheet] — show the hospitals’ average list prices. Adding another layer of opacity, Medicare and private insurance companies typically negotiate lower charges with hospitals. But the data shed light on fees that the uninsured could pay.

Not surprisingly to the FEHBlog the Post finds a lot of price variation.  To celebrate, “HHS made approximately $87 million available to states to enhance their [health insurance company — not hospital] rate review programs and further health care pricing transparency.” Here’s a link to AHIP’s take on the data.

The AMA News weighs in one recent studies noted in the FEHBlog that doctors become sensitive to the cost of diagnostic tests that they order when they know the price. The AMA’s concern — that price sensitivity may adversely impact quality of care. When has that ever been the case in real life? Don’t people consider price and quality when making a purchasing decision.