Midweek update

The House bill that would continue funding the federal government from January 19 through February 16, 2018,  fully fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, and delay the medical device tax for two more years (through 2019), the high-cost employer-sponsored plan excise tax or Cadillac tax also for two more years (through 2021), and the health insurer tax for one more year (through this year). The FEHBlog being a glass half full kind of guy expects this bill to pass.

In a bit of good news, USA Today reports that “Walmart is teaming with a Southern Pines, N.C.. company called DisposeRx, on a solution that consists of a small packet with an FDA-safe chemical blend that, when emptied into a pill bottle with warm water, lets patients dispose of any leftover medications in the trash. The medications — they can be powder, pills, tablets, capsules or liquids — are converted into a non-divertible and biodegradable gel.”  Walmart is giving away DisposeRx for free.  More pharmacy chains should follow their lead as a lot of people have excess Oxycontin in their medicine cabinets.

The FEHBlog noted in last year or two the problems with the Federal Employees Long Term Care Insurance Program.  The Wall Street Journal explains today why the entire long term care insurance market in the U.S. is in “financial turmoil.”

Almost every insurer in the business badly underestimated how many claims would be filed and how long people would draw payments before dying. People are living and keeping their policies much longer than expected. 

After the financial crisis hit, nine years of ultralow interest rates also left insurers with far lower investment returns than they needed to pay those claims. 

Long-term-care insurers barreled into the business even though their actuaries didn’t have a long record of data to draw on when setting prices. Looking back now, some executives say marketing policies on a “level premium” basis also left insurers with a disastrously slim margin of error.

No bueno.