Mid-week update

This is the 1500th FEHBlog post since the FEHBlog began in 2006. The President soon will be meeting with Congressional leaders about the shutdown. Fingers crossed. The Wall Street Journal offers a chart on the percentages of agency employees who have been furloughed.

The actuarial consulting firm Mercer came out with a report on early results of its employer health care cost survey:

Based on early responses from a major survey conducted annually by Mercer, employers expect health benefit cost per employee will rise by 4.8% on average in 2014. Cost growth slowed to 4.1% in 2012, a 15-year low. The projected increase for 2014, while still relatively low, represents a slight uptick in the rate of growth (Fig. 1).

As you know, OPM announced last week that FEHB premiums would increase on average by 3.7% in 2014, more than a percentage point lower than this survey. The FEHBlog noticed that the APWU Health Plan has now posted information about its 2014 benefits.

Mobihealth News posted an interesting interview with a few mobile health application CEOs held “at the “3 CEOs” session at the Health 2.0 event in Santa Clara, California this week.”

Before the shutdown, an HHS Tiger Team held a hearing on how patients can learn who accessed their electronic health record data, according to this Ihealthbeat report. According to the HITECH Act, this accounting must include treatment, payment, and healthcare operations disclosures. That expansive requirement fortunately is not found in the HIPAA Privacy Rule’s accounting for disclosures provision which applies to health plans.Witnesses testified at the hearing that health care provider compliance with this requirement applicable to their “free” electronic health record systems is infeasible. The FEHBlog is not surprised to learn this fact or that a patient privacy advocate Dr. Deborah Peel demanded full compliance, no matter the cost.