Weekend update

The Federal Benefits Open Season has been over for almost a week, and the House has gone into recess until the new year. The Hill’s Floor Action blog reports that this coming week the Senate will take up the budget deal bill and the defense authorization bill, both of which have been approved by the House. The holidays are drawing near.

Santa finally came through for federal employees.  The Federal Times reports that federal employees (except for blue collar workers) will receive a 1% increase in base pay but not locality pay for 2014 after three years of pay freezes.

Modern Healthcare reports — contrary to the FEHBlog’s optimism — that the lame duck session bound to occur next year may be the most likely time that Congress repeals and replaces Medicare Part B’s sustainable rate of growth formula (discussed in Thursday’s post).

Finally, here are a couple of bits of potpourri. Buck Consultants released a survey finding the consumer driven plans do produce better healthcare consumers.

HSA members are responsible for a greater portion of their health costs, so they expect tools to help them make informed, rational decisions. When ranking important HSA product features, 44 percent of respondents ranked the ability to view claims on the HSA site as most important. They ranked paying medical claims on the HSA member portal second at 35 percent.

The second place finisher is unexpected. That feature must please the providers too. And AHIP published another report on the efforts to health insurers to improve healthcare literacy which is a key part of the process of creating better healthcare consumers.