Mid-week update

Fierce Healthcare reports that the Trump Administration is taking steps to permit other private-sector oriented approaches to purchasing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The ACA as developed by the Obama Administration requires consumers to purchase the insurance on a government website such as healthcare.gov.  Indeed, subsidized coverage is available only through those websites. The American Health Reform Act would give consumers tax credits that they could use to help buy insurance on or off the health insurance exchanges.

The FEHBlog attempted to purchase insurance coverage for his firm through the DC Health Link site. Even though his expertise is in health benefits, he was flumoxxed. His life insurance agent directed him to a good health insurance agent. The agent guided him through the standardly priced options which allowed the FEHBlog to pull the computerized trigger.  (DC requires small businesses to use Health Link.)  The Trump Administration is making changes to the health insurance selection process that encourages the use of brokes and agents. That’s a good move.

In another encouraging development, the budget act that Congress passed last month permits the Department of Health and Human Services to to “consult private-sector groups trying to develop patient identification and patient matching solutions” for health transaction and electronic health record purposes according to Modern Healthcare.  HIPAA which http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2017/05/17/could-amazon-be-express-scripts-next-competitor.htmlwas enacted in 1996 required HHS to create a patient identifer.  Two or three years later, Congress defunded any patient identifier initiative and that ban has held until this year, thereby impeding the development of electronic health record networks as well as creating patient safety issues. The FEHBlog continues to believe that Congress should allow the private sector to manage the electronic transaction side of HIPAA.

The Milliman actuarial consulting firm has issued is 2017 Milliman Index. “In 2017, the cost of healthcare for a typical American family of four covered by an average employer-sponsored preferred provider organization (PPO) plan is $26,944,” according to that Index.  More interesting tidbits can be found in the report.

On the health care provider front, Crain’s Chicago Business reports that the urgent care business is booming to such a degree that hospitals are becoming interested in getting a piece of the pie.  Telehealth providers who compete with the urgent care centers got a good news this week when the Texas legislature passed a law clearing the way for telehealth vendors to operate in that large state.  Here’s a link to the mhealthintelligence report.  Texas was the last large state to restrict the use of telehealth. Only a few states with restrictions are left.  Here’s a good site to access that info.

Following up on a few FEHBlog posts —

  • Health IT Security gives us the latest on the WannaCry worm. 
  • Drug Channels discusses the Express Scripts’ Inside Rx program that the FEHBlog mentioned last week. The FEHBlog discovered from reading the article that CVS has a similar program. In a development that must chill the spines of PBMs,  Bizjournals.com reports that Amazon is considering breaking into the PBM business. 
  • The FEHBlog recalls discussing a while back a United Healthcare initiative called Harken Health. The subsidiary which operates around Chicago and in Georgia, “offered free primary care visits and wellness programs as well as 24/7 access to physicians through phone, email or video chat.” Healthcare Dive tells us that UHC decided to wind down the experiment by year end. 

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