News with clear eyes. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

Many government employers plan to tighten their benefits belts within the next year.

Many government employers plan to tighten their benefits belts within the next year.

 

About 64% of public-sector benefits managers say they expect to increase employees’ health insurance premiums, and 27% expect to increase employees’ co-payments, according to Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, Columbia, S.C., a unit of Unum Group Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn. (NYSE:UNM)

 

Colonial Life has published those figures in a summary of results from a recent online survey of members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, Alexandria, Va.

 

Just 20% said the top benefits priority is retaining key employees; 58% identified controlling costs as the top priority.

 

THE NEW STORM

 

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), Tucson, Ariz., is blasting efforts by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a health claims database that could be used in the risk adjustment programs and comparative effectiveness research programs created to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 201 (PPACA).

 

Some have argued that the database could lead to serious infringements on Americans’ privacy rights.

 

Dr. Elizabeth Lee Vliet, an AAPS member who opposes many aspects of PPACA, writes in the AAPS op-ed that, her patients “are horrified at the idea that their personal health information could be released to a government database, open to anyone with access to the system.”

 

A new federal regulation “requires private health insurance companies to give health records of every person they insure to the government,” Lee Vliet writes. “Government bureaucrats would have access to the health records from all private insurance companies—including yours—whether you want them to or not.”

 

The government could use the data to ration care, and hackers might steal it, Lee Vliet writes.

 

2014

Meanwhile, in Washington, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is organizing seminars based on the idea that PPACA will happen.

 

AHIP will start a 2-day conference on the PPACA insurance exchange distribution provisions Nov. 16 in Chicago.

 

SICK OF IT ALL?

 

Bill Mulcahy and Cindy Sheriff are starting E4 Health, Dallas, a provider of employee assistance programs and behavioral health risk management programs that probably offers counselors who can help people deal with negative thoughts.

 

 

Tom Sawyer, Ph.D., will be senior vice president, clinical strategy.

 

E4 is acquiring Sobel & Raciti Associates Inc. an established EAP provider. Harry Sobel will be senior vice president, client services.