Well, the FEHBlog had a happy Thanksgiving (except for the Redskins loss), and he hopes that his readers are enjoying the holiday too.

The Health Care Cost Institute, a private payer claims data research organization, issued its 2015 healthcare cost and utilization report. The news was not good.

Spending on health care for the privately insured in the United States increased 4.6 percent in 2015, outpacing previous years’ growth, finds a new report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI). Spending grew just 3.0 percent in 2013 and 2.6 percent in 2014. Prices for outpatient, inpatient, professional services, and prescription drugs increased between 3.5-9.0 percent in 2015, a bigger hike than in the prior two years, according to the analysis. Price increases were the primary reason spending grew more quickly in 2015 than in previous years, and were the largest driver of spending growth throughout the four-year study period. * * *

“Using data from four of the nation’s largest health insurers, we’re able to look closely at the changes in health care use and prices over time to understand what is driving costs,” said HCCI Executive Director David Newman. “Year after year in our study period we see that rising prices are leading to spending growth.” 

 Here’s a link to the complete report.

Also Health Data Management reports that the HHS Office for Civil Rights took another healthcare provider scalp — a $650,000 negotiated fine and a corrective action plan against the University of Massachusetts.

The sanctions follow UMass reporting to OCR in June 2013 that a workstation infected with malware resulted in disclosure of protected health information on 1,670 individuals. Malware infected a workstation in the UMass Center for Language, Speech and Hearing because no firewall was in place.
OCR contends that UMass had incorrectly determined that the Center for Language, Speech and Hearing, which was the unit that experienced the breach, was not a covered entity under the HIPAA rules.
Further, OCR determined that while the breach occurred in mid-2013, UMass did not conduct and accurate and through risk analysis until September 2015. In recent years, OCR has increasingly been stringent on the need of HIPAA-covered entities to conduct risk analyses and address vulnerabilities.

Finally, the FEHBlog noticed this afternoon that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has scheduled a hearing on Federal Long Term Care Insurance premium spikes for next Wednesday November 30 at 2 pm.