ACHP Media Monitoring Report: October 25, 2016

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Key marketplace plan sees large price increase
Premium rates are 25 percent higher this year for the health care plan federal regulators use to calculate tax subsidies for exchange purchasers. The price comes as concern grows about the escalating cost of health insurance in the United States, explains Jayne O’Donnell of USA Today. After tax credits, about 70 percent of Americans will pay less than $75 a month for insurance.

CMS uncovers errors in provider directories
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulators report a surprising number of inaccuracies in Medicare Advantage provider directories. The agency has completed its first in-depth review of online directories, finding incorrect information for nearly half of the doctors listed. A new rule requires plans to contact doctors every three months to keep directories up to date. Phil Galewitz at Kaiser Health News shares the government hopes this regulation will provide consumers with more accurate information.

Open enrollment prolonged for some customers
The deadline to sign up for coverage will be extended for those consumers who purchased now-discontinued health plans. Open enrollment, which begins November 1, is set to continue until January 31. Individuals who purchased a plan through an insurer leaving the exchange will be able to sign up for health coverage outside of this regular season. These consumers can sign up as late as December 31 for coverage starting January 1, and some individuals may be able to wait until March 1 to enroll in a new plan. Stephanie Armour at The Wall Street Journal has the story (subscriber’s content).

Medicare drug cost increase is under review
Health officials are looking at ways to curb Medicare’s rising pharmaceutical costs. In 2017 the cost of the Medicare Part D program may rise to more than $100 billion. Kerry Young of CQ Roll Call writes drugmakers have been more open-minded about pricing based on the quality of the drug (subscriber’s content).

AARP challenges ruling on wellness programs
AARP is suing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over rules issued by the federal agency governing employee wellness programs. The decision permits employers to provide financial incentives to employees who meet voluntary wellness targets. The EEOC allows employers to offer incentives that equal almost one-third of the annual cost for health insurance, reports Reed Abelson of The New York Times. AARP asserts the programs are not voluntary because they punish non-participation and require employees to hand over sensitive medical information, which the organization considers a violation of employees’ privacy.