Payer Roundup—DOE breaks rule with healthcare tweet; Harvard Pilgrim, MyHealthMath announce partnership

The GAO has weighed in on a healthcare-related tweet sent by the official Department of Energy Twitter account. (GAO)

DOE violates statute with healthcare tweet, GAO rules

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has issued a report concerning a tweet the Department of Energy sent out promoting an anti-Obamacare healthcare column. 

The column, written by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, criticized several aspects of President Obama's signature healthcare law, and the official Department of Energy Twitter account promoted the post. It deleted the tweet later the same day.

GAO ruled that in sending the tweet, DOE violated its purpose statute. The appropriations used by DOE are not intended to inform the public about healthcare, GAO said. (GAO ruling)

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care partners with MyHealthMath

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has partnered with MyHealthMath to bring more data to the hands of its members. Harvard Pilgrim said MyHealthMath is the latest in a suite of solutions it provides to members.

The program is designed "to provide up-front cost awareness and empowerment for members before, during, and after they select a health plan. Other components of the suite include the 'estimate my cost' and 'reduce my cost.'"

Harvard Pilgrim ran a pilot of the service for its employees in 2017 and decided to make it public to members following a positive response. (Release)

What makes 2-tiered health systems so complicated

The healthcare system in the U.S. has long struggled with its patchwork of different insurance types. But a hybrid healthcare system can work, it's just not simple.

Grace Dobush, an American journalist living in Berlin, takes a deep dive into the history of the German healthcare system to explain what makes two-tiered systems so complicated. She explains why the German healthcare system often seems like such an improvement over the U.S. model—but also where it falls short. (Handelsblatt Global article)

One-quarter of sprained ankle cases get an opioid prescription, study shows

As the health system gets a better sense of how common opioid prescriptions are, more stories are coming out about routine overprescription.

One study, published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, found that a quarter of adults who went to the emergency department with a sprained ankle were prescribed an opioid painkiller. The rates varied by state, with more overprescribing in the South. Just 2.8% of such cases in North Dakota received opioids compared to 40% of cases in Arkansas. (Washington Post article)

The $32T cost of Bernie's Medicare-for-all plan

A new study out of George Mason University has estimated the cost and impact of Senator Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All Act. And it's one hefty tab.

The researchers projected the plan would add $32.6 trillion to the federal budget over the first 10 years of implementation, while increasing federal healthcare commitments by 10.7% of GDP. 

However, while this would certainly mean an increase in government expenditures on healthcare, the country as a whole would actually experience a slight reduction in healthcare spending. The distribution would simply change massively. (Mercatus Center Working Paper)