In addition to making the user look really uncool, clinical data is mounting that e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to smoking:
Industry-specific Association Health Plans(AHP) are probably on their way out in California due to new State regulations.
The "Cadillac Tax", a tax on high cost health plans originally enacted to fund components of the 2010 healthcare reforms has already been delayed until 2022. Now, it may be formally repealed. With the US annual deficit approaching $1T and historically low interest rates, why not?
Interesting report from the WSJ on the economics behind why wage growth is stagnating in the face of a booming economy and tight labor market. Workplace culture and an effective employee benefits plan are as important as ever to reduce employee turnover.
HHS has introduced a plan to allow states to implement programs to import prescription drugs from Canada. Within a few years, this could have a HUGE impact at equalizing Rx price disparities between the USA and the rest of the world. Great first step for American healthcare consumers!
Ever had a medical claim denied? Always a good idea to appeal it. According to advocacy group Families USA: “About half of appeals go in favor of the consumer”:
Almost all other countries utilize GOVERNMENT-SET PRICING which results in substantially lower Rx costs for their citizens, leaving American consumers to heavily subsidize R&D innovation for new life saving prescription drugs for the entire world through higher costs. Here's a quick breakdown of the two ideas currently being considered by US government officials:
1. GOVERNMENT-SET PRICING: https://khn.org/news/pelosi-aims-for-feds-to-negotiate-drug-prices-even-for-private-insurers/
PROS: Could have an immediate impact at reducing Rx prices for consumers.
CONS: Will allow big government bureaucracy to play favorites. This approach will substantially stifle future Rx R&D investment and innovation. The life-saving Rx therapies of the future may never be developed. Government-set pricing in counties like the UK and Canada means some Rx therapies are simply not available since the government panel has concluded that they are too costly. Short-term economic backlash could be substantial. Example: if the government panel decides to arbitrarily reduce a blockbuster Rx price by 40%, the pharma company who makes the drug could be forced to layoff 1,000 workers to adjust for immediate loss of income.
2. FREE MARKET SOLUTION: https://khn.org/news/states-proposals-import-cheaper-drugs-trump-support-experiment/
PROS: Could have an immediate impact at reducing Rx prices for consumers. Eventually drug manufacturers will raise prices on other countries where the USA is importing Rx from. This will force other countries to pay their fair share of the R&D costs for life saving Rx therapies. If done correctly, this approach could create a fair global free market where costs are reduced for US consumers and Rx R&D investment is not substantially reduced.
CONS: Potential safety issues from counterfeiting. Differences in patent protection duration will need to be regulated. Drug costs for consumers outside of the USA will increase.
New pricing transparency executive order could have monumental impact are reducing healthcare costs over the next 5-10 years.
Ever have a trip to the emergency room and wonder why fees are so astronomical? In 1986 the EMTALA was signed into law. This increased access to to basic medical care for the uninsured, but also put tremendous cost pressure on hospitals. Since around 55% of emergency room care goes uncompensated, these costs are spread out to insured members of the population in the form of really high costs.
With presidential debates kicking off soon, lowering health care costs to consumers continues to be a lead concern for voters.
In 2018, 71% of IVF patients treated paid for most or all of their IVF treatment out-of-pocket with average amount paid over $22,000 per cycle. Due to the high cost and selective nature of the benefit, most employers are still reluctant to provide this as an employee benefit.
With record low unemployment, many companies are turning to emerging benefits to attract and retain employees:
Wellness program ROI can be difficult to measure, as shown in this recent study of employer BJ's Wholesale Club.
Crossing the border to buy expensive prescriptions is a tempting strategy, especially for San Diegans. There are substantial safety and legality concerns. Income-based Rx prescription assistance programs offered by pharma companies and non-profits should be evaluated and exhausted first. Google: "prescription assistance programs".
Amazon now accepts HSA/FSA cards for over-the-counter medical supplies:
The Affordable Care Act made great improvements to insurance market standardization, transparency, and access. Recent proposed initiatives from the Department of Health and Human Services will help increase transparency for Rx and hospital costs at the consumer level. These are great initiatives for reducing healthcare costs!
When buying common consumer items (sneakers or electronics for example), there's often a 150-200%+ price swing between the lowest clearance price and the highest price available. Same goes with healthcare prices.
Employers should be educating their employees how to utilize cutting edge online consumerism tools to find the best deal for Rx and elective procedures. If employees get caught with a life threatening emergency and billed an outlier out-of-network rate, they should leverage public pricing data to negotiate down their bill.
Wellness plans designed for employees with the highest risk factors will yield the highest results in reducing claims costs:
Against a backdrop of a historically tight labor market, rising wages, and insurance cost increases well below recent trend...some benefits are becoming less popular:
Two key employer-based healthcare trends to watch in 2019:
1. High-deductible/HSA plans popularity decreasing
2. Narrow-network HMO plans popularity increasing
Change is inevitable in life, and this is especially true when it comes to medical insurance. Here are 10 key areas for employee to focus on at open enrollment time:
Student loan repayment has become a hot new employee benefit. Unlike tuition assistance which is tax deductible up to $5,250 per year, student loan reimbursements to employees are still taxed as ordinary income. Still a great benefit to attract and retain great employees.
In a big step towards more consumer pricing transparency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services(CMS) issued updated guidelines on August 2nd which will require more user-friendly electronic disclosure of hospital charges. Will be interesting to see how the government and/or third party vendors aggregate this data and make it available to consumers for comparison shopping of hospital fees.
Scripps just passed the 2nd year of their integration and partnership with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which is routinely ranked as the #1 cancer treatment center in the US.