Midweek Update

Govexec.com and Federal News Radio report on an OPM memorandum to federal agencies about the Affordable Care Act. It’s not clear to the FEHBlog if this is OPM’s effort at complying with Section 1512 of the ACA as explicated in Labor Department Technical Release No. 2013-02.

The National Business Group on Health released its most recent large employer survey findings:

The cost of providing employee health care benefits at the nation’s largest employers is projected to increase 7% in 2014 – the third consecutive year employers have budgeted this amount, according to a new survey by the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit association of more than 365 large U.S. employers. The survey – one of the industry’s first look at costs and plan design changes for 2014 – also found that some employers believe health insurance exchanges could be a viable option for certain populations. Additionally, more companies plan to offer workers a consumer-directed health plan as their only health benefits option in 2014.

Next month we will find out how the FEHBP’s average 2014 premium increase stacks up against this benchmark.

Over a decade ago, a pharmacist told the FEHBlog that health plans should use her profession as a readily available resource for controlling health care costs. It’s therefore interesting to the FEHBlog to see that according to HealthLeaders Media, Aetna is instituting a pilot program to control hospital readmissions by using pharmacists to help recently discharged patients with multiple prescriptions to manage their health.

The Hartford-based insurer is teaming with CVS Caremark and Dovetail Health, a Massachusetts-based care management company, for a 6-month trial. The program will be offered in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Caremark and Dovetail say they will dedicate specific pharmacists to the pilot. The program is expected to help members manage their health through personal support from a pharmacist including in-home consultations.

Makes sense to the FEHBlog.

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