OPM: More feds are benefitting from health IT options

Federal health insurers are devoting more resources to educating beneficiaries on how to use health information technology.

According to a recent Office of Personnel Management report, 92 percent of plans "have taken proactive steps" in 2011 to make consumers more comfortable with organizing and sharing health information online. Additionally, 97 percent of all plans now make personal health records available to members, allowing them to access their claims history online.

To promote health IT, plan managers have distributed information via websites, newsletters, open enrollment meetings, brochures and member education materials.

In an accompanying release, OPM director John Berry said the agency intends to promote health IT "because it results in better care as well as cost savings," by decreasing insurance costs for the federal government and keeping employees healthier and more productive.

The number of plans offering personal health records to members has increased steadily since 2007, when 51 percent of plans first offered them. Despite the growth, the actual number of eligible beneficiaries who use the records remains very low -- 83 percent of all plans offering the electronic records option report that less than 5 percent of employees take advantage of it.

As of Tuesday afternoon, OPM had not responded to requests for comment.

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