Tuesday Tidbits

Thanks to Aaron Burden for sharing their work on Unsplash.

Happy Election Day!

The FEHBlog enjoyed reading this American Medical Association article about the five things that doctors should tell their patients about the COVID-19 vaccines currently under development. This could be good information for health plans to share with their members.

Fierce Healthcare reports that

Nearly half the nation’s hospitals, many of which are still wrestling with the financial fallout of the unexpected coronavirus, will get lower payments for all Medicare patients because of their history of readmitting patients, federal records show.

The penalties are the ninth annual round of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program created as part of the Affordable Care Act’s broader effort to improve quality and lower costs. The latest penalties are calculated using each hospital case history between July 2016 and June 2019, so the flood of coronavirus patients who have swamped hospitals this year were not included.

The number and severity of penalties were comparable to those of recent years, although the number of hospitals receiving the maximum penalty of 3% dropped from 56 to 39.

Beckers Hospital Review provides a list of those 39 hospitals here.

Healthcare Dive informs us that

Humana bested Wall Street expectations as it gained more members during the third quarter, generated higher revenue and beat earnings estimates, according to its quarterly results released Tuesday morning.

The payer’s medical utilization continued to trend slightly below pre-COVID levels during the third quarter, though still well above the severe dip in March and April. The lower levels of utilization were partially offset by higher COVID-19 testing and treatment costs as cases began to tick back up.

Executives warned during Tuesday’s call with investors that they expect a loss in the fourth quarter due to a number of issues, including COVID-19 testing and treatment and rebounding utilization.

It’s the last bullet that caught the FEHBlog’s attention.

Finally, Kaiser Health News offers a nice story about seniors forming friendship pods to ward off the loneliness of the great hunkering down.