Weekend update

OPM has posted its 2018 Federal Benefits Open Season webpage which provides a link to the 2018 FEHB plan comparison tool. The Open Season runs from November 13 to December 11.

Congress will be in session this coming week on Capitol Hill. Here’s a link to the The Week in Congress’s report on last week’s actions.

Reuters reports that “U.S. pharmacy operator CVS Health Corp and health insurer Aetna Inc are working toward finalizing merger terms and announcing a deal for more than $70 billion as early as December, according to people familiar with the matter.” The initial unofficial reports suggested a deal valued at $60 billion or $200 per Aetna share.

The Wall Street Journal reports that

Anthem Inc.’s Chief Executive Joseph R. Swedish will step down, and the insurance giant will name veteran managed-care executive Gail K. Boudreaux as its next leader, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

It wasn’t immediately clear how quickly the transition will occur, but the plan is expected to be announced as soon as next week, the people said. Mr. Swedish is expected to keep his title as chairman for a transition period, one of the people said.

Finally, the Omaha World Herald offers an interesting article on a new direct primary care model that 23 states including Nebraska have adopted.

Under the arrangement, patients pay a monthly membership fee to their doctor, generally under $100 a person. Patients, in turn, get their primary care needs met, all without having to file insurance claims, meet deductibles or pay copays. Patients generally get longer appointments and increased access to their health care providers through unlimited visits and contacts via cellphone, text, websites or secure apps.

This has the potential to lower the cost curve and improve healthcare quality in the FEHBlog’s view. The article notes that

Two of the Omaha area’s newest direct primary care offerings, in fact, are being launched not by physicians but by other players in the health care sector:
» Subsidiaries of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska and the Clarkson Foundation are partnering to open the Nurture Health clinic in January on the second floor of the Think building at 7100 West Center Road.
» CHI Health is offering for next year a direct primary care program for individuals and businesses as well as a slightly different version for employees, both at its clinic at 132nd Street and West Center Road. The health system has had a pilot program running since July 1 with about 150 patients, some 80 of whom are not employees of CHI. More than 1,000 people, between CHI employees and their dependents, signed up for the employee direct primary care option during the health system’s open enrollment period, which ended midweek.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.