Tuesday’s Tidbits

Yesterday, as NPR reports, the President nominated Alex Azar to be Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. Mr. Azar was deputy HHS Secretary in the George W. Bush administration and served as president of the U.S. branch of Eli Lilly pharmaceuticals. Mr. Azar’s nomination requires Senate confirmation.

The Postal Service reported its fourth quarter earnings today and according to Govexec.com the Postmaster General and the Postal Unions are urging Congress to enact the Postal Reform bill (H.R. 756) that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee unanimously approved last Spring.  That bill would add a Postal Service Health Benefits Program to the FEHBP.

The Hill reports that

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday said Republicans may need a short-term spending bill to prevent a government shutdown on Dec. 9.
Ryan said the House GOP’s goal was to pass a long-term spending bill by the end of the year, but suggested lawmakers may not be able to do so by a Dec. 8 deadline.
“We’re not talking about going into next year, we’re talking about getting it done this year,” Ryan said at a press conference on Tuesday. 

Mike Causey on Federal New Radio provides long time FEHBP expert Walt Francis’s take on the current Open Season.

Things you need to consider in your 2018 health plan include making sure your doctor is in the preferred provider option. Otherwise, you will need a new doctor, a new health plan or be prepared to pay a lot more for sticking with your favorite doctor by going out of network.
Your health plan’s catastrophic limit (the amount you will have to pay in a worst-case medical scenario) is often overlooked, but it is very important. If you or your family suffers a devastating medical event next year (illness or accident), the limit-to-you amount could be critical. Most bankruptcies in the U.S. are the result of medical bills. That shouldn’t happen to anybody in the federal FEHB program.
People should also check out plans with health savings accounts, which have been described as Roth IRAs on steroids. A little work. A lot of savings.

Of course the FEHBlog discussed HSAs on Sunday. The first point in the most important for all health plans because if you stay in network then your preventive care is “free” and you have ACA controlled out of pocket cost limits.