Happy Spring!

Health Day informs us that the flu season is finally subsiding.

To no one’s surprise, Healthcare Dive reports that hospital prices are shooting up. “Annual hospital price growth rose sharply to 3.8% — its highest pace since November 2009.”

Again to no one’s surprise, Med Page Today tells us about a new American Medical Association survey which finds that doctors detest insurer pre-authorization for services that they recommend or prescribe. The author , who is an MD, makes a good point in his conclusion:

If insurers really just want to make sure that care is appropriate, make it easy for us to prove that the care is appropriate – integrate prior authorization into the electronic medical record, make it fast, and give results before the patients leave our offices.

OPM and the Defense Department announced yesterday that

the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) will be offered for the first time to TRICARE eligible retirees and their families during the 2018 Federal Benefits Open Season. Active duty family members will be eligible to enroll in FEDVIP vision insurance.

The TRICARE Retiree Dental Program ends on Dec. 31, 2018. Those enrolled in TRDP must choose a dental plan through FEDVIP to have coverage in 2019. Enrollment is not automatic. Today’s announcement affects 1.63 million beneficiaries enrolled in TRDP and offers a choice to an additional 1.3 million eligible retired beneficiaries not currently enrolled in TRDP. 

Given OPM’s recent interest in medical liability report, it’s worth noting this Med Page Today article about the root cause of many malpractice claims — misdiagnosis.

Study author Robert Hanscom, vice president of business analytics at Coverys, spoke about the findings. The following is a lightly edited transcript. 

Q: What leapt out at you with your findings? 

Hanscom: Clearly we don’t know enough about diagnostic error, which is often hidden from the view of physicians and other providers. Generally, when we see them in malpractice they are missed and delayed cancer diagnoses that would miss any adverse event reporting system, which is often the way that providers learn about mistakes. These are non-events that actually take providers by surprise sometime later down the road.
There is not a lot of intelligence out there, in terms of helping physicians understand where their vulnerabilities are with respect to these errors. 

This is another explanation for the fact that medicine remains as much an art as a science.