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Archives for: December 2011

12/30/11

  05:29:43 pm, by MedBen5   , 312 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Four-tier Rx Plans Popular, But Needlessly Cumbersome

A recent survey by the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute found more employers offer prescription plans that reduce the price of generic drugs while asking employees to pay a greater share of the cost for brand name medications. Employee Benefit News… more »
  04:41:14 pm, by MedBen5   , 256 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

The Year In Health Care Reform

USA Today reviews the major health care changes that took effect in 2011 as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Those that directly impact group health plans, such as preventive health benefits paid in full and continued coverage for dependents until… more »
  03:32:48 pm, by MedBen5   , 266 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Here's To A Hangover-free New Year

We’re guessing that a couple of you reading this will bring in the new year by consuming an adult beverage of your choosing. (We, being devoted to all things healthy, will of course toast the occasion with sparkling apple cider.) New Year’s Eve… more »

12/29/11

  05:08:18 pm, by MedBen5   , 230 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Health Plan Management

MedBen Offers Accountable Care Solutions to Control Chronic Condition Costs

From proprietary claims surveillance to wellness and precertification programs, MedBen uses a variety of cutting-edge methods to help contain your plan’s health plan costs. To complement these savings strategies, we now offer, as an optional… more »
  11:55:12 am, by MedBen5   , 182 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

GOP Presidential Hopefuls Mum On Ideas For Replacing Reform Law

The Washington Post takes Republican presidental candidates to task for not offering any new health care reform ideas to fulfill the oft-repeated “repeal and replace” pledge. Columnist David A. Fahrenthold notes that both former House speaker Newt… more »
  11:14:30 am, by MedBen5   , 202 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Food Choices Affect Brain Size, Study Suggests

Not only do healthy foods keep your body in shape, they may keep your noggin fit as well. That’s the finding of new study of brain size and memory, NPR reports. Rather than relying on study participants to keep food diaries, researchers dug a… more »

12/28/11

  04:54:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 251 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Many Big Companies Find No Value In Health Risk Assessments

Half of self-insured companies don’t think health risk assessments add any value to worksite wellness programs, Employee Benefit News reports. A survey of 25 large U.S. employers with at least 3,000 employees found that while most view wellness as… more »
  11:17:02 am, by MedBen5   , 264 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Wellness

Side Effects Shouldn't Be An Afterthought

Side effects listed on the labels of pill bottles are something most of us usually take for granted. They’re just there to cover the drug maker in case of a lawsuit – and besides, the really serious stuff won’t happen to me, right?… more »
  10:42:53 am, by MedBen5   , 233 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Government Research Provision Will Bump Insurance Costs

A new information-gathering rule will soon impact health care costs. Medical Xpress reports that “[s]tarting in 2012, the government will charge a new fee to your health insurance plan for research to find out which drugs, medical procedures,… more »
  09:45:43 am, by MedBen5   , 181 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Tips For A Happy, Smoke-Free New Year

If 2012 is going to be the year you absolutely, positively stick to your “quit smoking” resolution, you’ll need to do a bit of advance planning. The Cleveland Clinic (via HealthDay News and MedcineNet.com) offers these tips to kick the… more »

12/22/11

  05:09:03 pm, by MedBen5   , 211 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Prescription, Health Plan Management

Use Your Remaining FSA Funds Before 2011 Ends

If you contribute to a flexible spending account (FSA), it’s nearly time to “use it or lose it". Qualified medical purchases made on or before December 31, 2011 can be reimbursed from your FSA using 2011 funds, once proper supporting documentation has… more »
  12:57:14 pm, by MedBen5   , 194 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Obesity Strongly Influences Prescription Drug Use

If you’re carrying around a lot of extra weight, chances are that you’re also spending more on prescription drugs. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that obese people were using various medication types,… more »
  11:15:30 am, by MedBen5   , 280 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Can Health Care Reform Work Without The Individual Mandate?

Now that we know when the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of requiring Americans to have health insurance coverage, one question looms large: Will they or won’t they declare the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate… more »
  10:32:52 am, by MedBen5   , 275 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Be Realistic About Weight Goals During The Holiday Season

We are fast approaching the annual holiday party “gauntlet” – the week between Christmas and New Year’s, in which family gatherings, office celebrations and neighborhood get-togethers offer plenty of opportunities to eat to our… more »

12/21/11

  05:15:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 211 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

Start The New Year Off Right -- With An Eye Exam!

The Better Health website suggests a smart New Year’s resolution that’s also easy to keep: Get a comprehensive eye exam in 2012. One-third of adults over the age of 40 feel they don’t need regular eye exams, says a CDC survey. And the… more »
  04:44:38 pm, by MedBen5   , 193 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Patients, Doctors Have Opposite Takes On Open Medical Notes

Should patients be privvy to doctors’ notes about their condition? Patients overwhelmingly say yes. Their doctors, on the other hand, are a bit less enthusiastic about the prospect. According to NPR, a yearlong experiment by OpenNotes followed… more »
  04:10:10 pm, by MedBen5   , 227 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Holiday Excesses Increase ER Headaches

Most of us give ourselves a bit more dietary leeway during the holidays. But extra indulgence should also mean exercising extra caution when our bodies send us warning signals. Medical Xpress reports that emergency room visits jump during the holiday… more »

12/20/11

  04:53:40 pm, by MedBen5   , 170 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Prescription

2012 Drug Formularies Available At MedBen.com

Formulary updates for prescription plans administered by Pharmacy Data Management, Inc. (PDMI) are now available at the Forms area of MedBen.com. The new formularies become effective January 1, 2012. If you still need a 2011 formulary, they will be… more »
  03:26:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 202 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Proper Lifestyle Choices Can Greatly Reduce Cancer Risk

While there may be no known way to definitively prevent cancer, a recent British study concludes that there are plenty of things we can do to reduce our risk. Medical News Today reports that about 40% of cancers are avoidable by making smart lifestyle… more »
  12:02:23 pm, by MedBen5   , 159 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Supreme Court Will Hear Reform Law Arguments In March

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the Affordable Care Act over three days in late March 2012, reports The Hill’s health care blog Healthwatch. The announcement increases the likelihood that the court will issue a ruling sometime in June.… more »

12/19/11

  04:52:57 pm, by MedBen5   , 273 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Obama Administration Gives States Greater Exchange Flexibility

State governments will have greater flexibility to determine benefits available through their health insurance exchanges, Bloomberg reports. The Department of Health and Human Services announced on December 16 that it will not enforce a set of national… more »

12/16/11

  04:43:17 pm, by MedBen5   , 238 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Health Plan Management

Holiday Hours, And Accessing MedBen Access

Happy holidays from the staff at MedBen! Our home office will be closed on Monday, December 26 and will reopen at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 27, 2011. We also will close on Monday, January 2 and reopen at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 3, 2012. As… more »
  03:43:23 pm, by MedBen5   , 182 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

HHS: 2.5 Million More Young Adults Now Have Coverage

About 2.5 million young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 have gained medical coverage since the introdution of federal health care reform, according to a new analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Associated Press reports the… more »
  12:46:51 pm, by MedBen5   , 210 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Manufacturing Snafus Reason For Drug Shortages, Analysis Finds

As we’ve noted on this blog previously, hospitals nationwide have experienced shortages of cancer drugs and other vital medications. Now, a federal report examining the matter says the lack of supplies can be traced to factory production issues… more »
  11:28:10 am, by MedBen5   , 148 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Beat The Battle Of The Buffet Table This Holiday

Got a holiday get-together this weekend? We know how hard it can be to resist temptation, but if you can exercise a bit of self-control when you reach the buffet table, you’ll thank yourself later. The Cleveland Clinic (via HealthDay) offers the… more »

12/15/11

  04:09:23 pm, by MedBen5   , 145 words,  
Categories: News

Federal Fraud Prosecution Hits Record High This Year

The Fiscal Times reports that government crackdowns of health care fraud reached an all-time high in 2011. Data compiled from federal records showed federal prosecutions jumped 68.9% to 1,235 cases compared to 2010, a record increase. Prosecutors were… more »
  03:26:42 pm, by MedBen5   , 132 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Consumers Give More Thought To Choosing Appliances Than Doctors

Consumers generally give more thought to selecting a new SUV or dishwasher than they do a health plan or a doctor, according to recent survey by the Altarum Institute of over 3,000 insured, employed adults. From the Altarum survey summary: “Do… more »
  12:51:30 pm, by MedBen5   , 229 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Indoor Tanning Raises Risk Of Common Skin Cancer

That indoor tanning beds have been linked to skin cancer is hardly earth-shattering news. But a new study demonstrates how pronounced the risk can be. WebMD reports that people who tan indoors have a 69% greater likelihood of developing basal cell… more »

12/14/11

  04:00:11 pm, by MedBen5   , 215 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Many Employees Unaware They Have Chronic Conditions

Over a third of employees who took employer-sponsored, laboratory-based wellness tests were unaware that they suffered from chronic conditions, according to a study by lab testing outfit Quest Diagnostics. Forbes reports that wellness tests taken at 15… more »
  03:12:42 pm, by MedBen5   , 220 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Price, Primary Care Shortages Spur Growth Of Urgent Care Centers

The availability of urgent care facilities have steadily risen over the past decade – and their growth may really take off as health care reform laws take effect, Kaiser Health News predicts. Free-standing urgent care centers have become a… more »
  01:39:36 pm, by MedBen5   , 231 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Generic Lipitor Rollout Results In Sales, Savings

The Wall Street Journal has been all over the “Lipitor goes generic” story lately. Days before the patent expired on the popular cholesterol drug, the paper complied a Users’ Guide to help patients better understand their prescriptions… more »

12/13/11

  02:58:22 pm, by MedBen5   , 146 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Doctors Weigh In On Health Care Reform Law

Doctors are split right down the center in regard to their opinions of the Affordable Care Act, according to The Wall Street Journal Health Blog. A survey by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions consulting group found that 44% of doctors think… more »
  12:17:26 pm, by MedBen5   , 153 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Government Regulators Warn Against HCG For Weight Loss

The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission are jointly cracking down on over-the-counter products containing HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone, Reuters reports. The regulators have issued warning letters to companies that… more »
  11:29:02 am, by MedBen5   , 186 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

A Quick Workday Nap May Improve Job Performance

Taking an afternoon nap can enhance your workday productivity, even when it’s as little as 15 minutes. So says Sara C. Mednick, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. “You can get incredible… more »

12/12/11

  03:51:07 pm, by MedBen5   , 186 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

High-deductible Plans Finding Favor With Employers

High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) continue to gain in popularity, the Los Angeles Times reports. An employer survey by the benefits consulting firm Mercer found that 32% of companies with 500 or more employees offered HDHP in 2011, up from 23% in… more »
  12:35:33 pm, by MedBen5   , 181 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Drug Combinations May Slow Advanced Breast Cancer

At the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium last week, researchers offered encouraging findings in the treatment of advanced breast cancer. Two large clinical trials demonstrated that administering medications in different combinations may slow the… more »
  11:58:56 am, by MedBen5   , 152 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Gov't Health Insurance Fund For Early Retirees Shutting Down Early

If you’re an employer and want to take advantage of a government fund to pay for health insurance for early retirees, you best move quickly. The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports that the fund deadline has been moved up to December 31… more »
  10:40:58 am, by MedBen5   , 214 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Some Kids' Cereals Contain More Sugar Than Cookies, Report Says

‘’Milk-covered candy in a bowl.” That’s how David Katz, MD, MPH sees some popular children’s breakfast cereals – and a new report backs him up. According to WebMD, the Environmental Working Group reviewed the… more »

12/08/11

  03:06:05 pm, by MedBen5   , 205 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

CDC: More Outpatient Care Provided By Non-Physicians

More hospital outpatients get their care exclusively from non-physicians, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. As noted on the ACP Hospitalist blog, health researchers found that the percentage of hospital outpatient… more »
  12:28:49 pm, by MedBen5   , 199 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

HHS Secretary Rejects FDA Decision On "Morning-After" Pill

In an unprecedented move, Health and Human Services Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius has overruled the Food and Drug Administration on the approval of a controversial drug. The New York Times reports that contraceptive Plan B One-Step will be available… more »
  11:02:03 am, by MedBen5   , 143 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Senate Insurance Form Doesn't Reflect New Dependent Law

The Washington Post reports that as U.S. employers and individuals acclimate themselves to the changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act, the very body that wrote and approved health care reform has dragged its feet a bit: “[On December 6]… more »

12/07/11

  04:57:18 pm, by MedBen5   , 220 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Breast Cancer In The News Today

Breast Cancer Awareness Month may have ended over a month ago, but for whatever reason, there’s a tremendous amount of media coverage on the subject today: Associated Press: “Women concerned about breast cancer should worry less about… more »

12/06/11

  05:39:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 269 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

ERs No Substitute For A Primary Care Doctor

Using the emergency room as a primary care “surrogate” – that is, getting medical check-ups only as a by-product of needing urgent care – is not only self-defeating, it keeps patients in the dark about chronic conditions, a new… more »
  12:57:40 pm, by MedBen5   , 187 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Americans Feel Favorable About Transparent Plan Summaries

If you were to ask the man or woman on the street about what aspect of health care reform they feel most favorable about, what do you think the most frequent response would be (other than the inevitable blank stares)? Do you think it would be the… more »
  11:36:43 am, by MedBen5   , 180 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Fitness More Important Than Weight For Living Longer, Study Says

There’s little doubt that dropping excess weight can positively impact your health. But a new study suggests that when it comes to living longer, fitness trumps fat. WebMD reports that males who exercise regularly were less likely to die from… more »

12/05/11

  04:22:12 pm, by MedBen5   , 287 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Cancer Pain Survey Suggests Need For Education, Patient Empowerment

A recent survey finds that some cancer doctors may need additional education on how to treat patients with pain, Reuters reports. Over 600 onologists responded to the survey, which presented two scenarios about a patient in pain despite being on… more »
  12:54:03 pm, by MedBen5   , 237 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Loss Ratio Rules Won't Tax Rebates, Reclassify Commissions

On Friday, we noted a GAO report regarding the medical loss ratio (MLR) provision of the Affordable Care Act. Today’s news offers additional information about the requirement that insurers spend spend at least 80% of their premiums on medical care… more »
  11:46:15 am, by MedBen5   , 166 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Most Contact Lens Wearers Don't Comply With Care Practices

Turns out we contact lens wearers are a little careless when it comes to proper care. A new study reveals that while most users believe that they follow all the recommended wear and care guidelines, very few actually do. HealthDay News reports that the… more »

12/02/11

  11:55:39 am, by MedBen5   , 194 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

GAO Says Most Insurers Would Have Met Loss Ratios In 2010

The Government Accountability Office says that in 2010, most American health insurers would have met the medical loss ratios (MLRs) established under the Affordable Care Act, Reuters reports. A review by the congressional watchdog agency of last… more »
  11:01:00 am, by MedBen5   , 306 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Have Yourself A Healthy Little Holiday Season

It’s the time of year when chestnuts roast on an open fire and Jack Frost nips at your nose. But to ensure that Jack doesn’t take a bigger bite and make you vulnerable to a cold or flu, HealthDay (via MedicineNet.com) offers the following… more »

12/01/11

  05:09:08 pm, by MedBen5   , 180 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Regular Teeth Cleaning Promotes Heart Health

As we noted on this blog a few weeks back, your teeth can act as a window to your health in general. Now, new research demonstrates just how regular dental checkups can help your heart. WebMD reports that people who had their their teeth professionally… more »
  02:12:06 pm, by MedBen5   , 205 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Obama Administration Awards Additional Grants For State Exchanges

The Obama administration will award nearly $200 million in new federal grants to states in order to set up insurance exchanges, The New York Times reports. Beginning in 2014, the exhanges will serve as “one-stop shops” for the uninsured to compare and… more »
  10:37:22 am, by MedBen5   , 207 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Challenging Docs' Decision-Making May Benefit Your Health

See First Blog author Evan Falchuk suggests that you challenge your doctor’s decision-making process. Not that he wants you to be a trouble-maker, mind you – only that by doing so, you may actually be helping your doctor make smarter… more »