Weekend Update

The weekend update is coming out on Monday morning because the FEHBlog returned to DC from the Nutmeg State last night. Fall in Connecticut is quite enjoyable.

Congress remains on the campaign trail. The mid-term election is now only 15 days away.

FEHB plans are starting to unveil their 2015 benefit  changes on their websites as the 2015 Federal Benefits Open Season is a mere three weeks away. Last week, Joe Davidson in the Washington Post reported that the Foreign Service Benefit Plan will be covering gender reassignment surgery next year. The column notes that

But it is not a reality for other plans in the OPM-administered federal health-benefits program. OPM said it “removed its requirement that carriers exclude ‘services, drugs, or supplies related to sex transformations’ ” beginning in 2015, but it did not order health insurance companies to do so.

Readers will recall that in June 2014 OPM made this announcement after 2015 benefit and rate submissions had been submitted. The agency allowed carriers to modify their submissions to add this coverage. We may learn that other carriers took advantage of this opportunity for 2015, As we lawyers say, the Post column assumes facts not in evidence.

Health Data Management reports on an interesting CIGNA effort to engage participants in employered sponsored health plans with a “new technology ‘ecosystem’ platform that combines online, mobile, social media, gamification, and web-based incentives to help customers and their families get the most out of the benefits.” The article explains that

The platform, branded Cigna Health Matters, will be available to approximately 14 million consumers, Cigna executives said. Cigna Health Matters starts with a gamified health assessment that customers engage with as they enroll in their health plan. Cigna’s gamified version delivers completion rates of 90 percent compared to typical industry-wide rates of 30 percent, according to the company.

Fierce Health Payer discusses other approaches to incenting employees to take an interest in their health care here.

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