Midweek update

OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert announced today that “OPM is happy to announce that the all-new FSAFEDS.com is open for business to serve our current FSAFEDS participants. We’re excited about the new tools and flexibilities that will help you to easily manage your Flexible Spending Accounts.” Best of luck to the new FSA contractor WageWorks.

Also today the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on ways to improve healthcare through technology.  The FEHBlog agrees with the approach but let the private sector lead the way.

The Kaiser Family Foundation released its 18th annual employer health benefits survey.  “The 2016 survey included almost 1,900 interviews with non-federal public and private firms.  Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $18,142 this year, up 3 percent from last year, with workers on average paying $5,277 towards the cost of their coverage.” A lot of information is available at the provided link.

American Hospital News reports that according to CMS unnecessary hospital readmissions have been dropping. “While hospitals have reduced readmissions by 565,000 since 2010, the [Medicare readmissions control] program has penalized them by $1.9 billion, a new AHA infographic notes.”  And of course where do those additional costs wind up? Being imposed on FEHB and private sector plans.

Drug Channels has an interesting take on the Epipen pricing controversy. Drug Channels observes that “IMS Health has done a great job documenting the growing divergence between gross sales and net sales. As the chart [at the link] shows, manufacturers retain a smaller share of their price increases. In 2015, list prices grew by 12.4%, but net prices after rebates grew by only 2.8%.”  The difference is largely attributable to prescription benefit manager negotiated discounts and rebates.  The rub is there according to Drug Channels.