The FEHBlog enjoys tracking healthcare trends. Here’s the latest:
- Good trend — Kaiser Health News reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is authorizing Medicare Advantage supplemental coverage for services and supplies that help Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries live happier, more independent lives.
“CMS is catching up with the rest of the world in terms of its understanding of how we keep people healthy and well and living longer and independently, and those are all positive steps,” said Ceci Connolly, chief executive officer of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, which represents nonprofit health insurance plans. Some offer non-emergency medical transportation, low-cost hearing aids, a mobile dental clinic and a “grocery on wheels,” to make shopping more convenient, she said.
UnitedHealthcare, the largest health insurer in the U.S., also welcomes the opportunity to expand benefits, said Matt Burns, a company spokesman. “Medicare benefits should not be one-size-fits-all, and continued rate stability and greater benefit design flexibility enable health plans to provide a more personalized health care experience,” he said.
Given the older demographics in the FEHBP, the FEHBlog expects such extra benefits to appear in the FEHBP before long.
- Good trend –The HHS Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released the ONC Guide to Getting and Using your Health Records, a new online resource for individuals, patients, and caregivers. Check the site out.
- Bad trend — Fierce Healthcare reports that “New nationwide surveillance discovered hundreds of antibiotic-resistant ‘nightmare bacteria,’ officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned this week as they urged local governments to help in the effort to fight superbugs.” What’s more — “Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are an expensive problem—with costs topping $2 billion per year based on some estimates—and are deadly, on track to kill more people than cancer by 2050. In addition to the containment strategies outlined by the CDC, providers can hinder the spread of these bugs by being more judicious with antibiotic use.” Ruh roh.