Weekend Update

The FEHBlog and his wife watched Jordan Zimmermann pitch a no hitter against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park this afternoon. What a lovely day! This was the first no-hitter pitched at Nationals Park.

Of course, Congress is out on the campaign trail but may come back before the midterms to address the situation in the Middle East. The Supreme Court returns a week from tomorrow.

The Wall Street Journal featured an interesting story about how groups of family members and friends of chronically ill patients hack into medical devices in order to improve their usefulness. The process sidesteps the FDA which is responsible for approving these devices. For example a parent figured out a way to use the internet to transmit glucose readings from his teenage daughter’s glucose monitor so she could take overnight trips. American ingenuity is amazing.

On Friday afternoon, the ACA regulators issued a final rule clarifying the scope of benefit programs that are excepted from the ACA’s reforms, e.g., child coverage up to age 26. The rule concerns dental, vision, health care flexible spending accounts, and employee assistance programs (“EAP”), all of which the federal government offers.  The rule which takes effect for 2015 explains how to structure these programs to avoid the ACA’s impact. LifeHealthPro explains that that the rule helps dental and vision plan sponsors, but  may “hurt” EAP sponsors.  

A week or so ago, the IRS issued a new notice that identifies two limited situations in which an employee participating in a cafeteria plan can revoke his employer health plan coverage in favor of ACA marketplace coverage.  Over time, employers may find themselves competing for good risks with the marketplace plans. That would be counterproductive, in the FEHBlogs view.