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Archives for: April 2013

04/30/13

  04:01:48 pm, by MedBen5   , 271 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Health Plan Management

Join Us At MedBen University On May 7!

MedBen University (MBU) is in session! Members of the MedBen team as well as other health care benefits professionals are traveling the Midwest this spring to share timely information about health care issues that are of importance to employers like… more »
  12:45:17 pm, by MedBen5   , 259 words,  
Categories: Wellness

To Make Hospital Stay Safe, Be Proactive

At, KevinMD.com, emergency physician Leana Wen, MD offers 12 tips to stay safe in hospitals, summarized below: Never go alone. Always bring someone else – a trusted family member or friend – with you to serve as an advocate.… more »
  12:15:56 pm, by MedBen5   , 186 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Government Task Force Recommends HIV Testing For All Adults

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that all Americans between the ages of 15 and 65 get tested for the HIV virus, regardless of their risk, Reuters reports. Currently, the Affordable Care Act advocates coverage of HIV screening for… more »

04/29/13

  04:37:40 pm, by MedBen5   , 209 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Heart Failure Costs Will Double In 20 Years, AHA Projects

The American Heart Association (AHA) predicts that one in every 33 Americans will have heart failure in 2030, causing the current cost of care to double, MedPage Today reports. The U.S. rise in obesity rates has coincided with an increase in the… more »
  04:07:23 pm, by MedBen5   , 224 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Delay Reform Mandates For One Year, Critics Argue

James C. Capretta and Yuval Levin of the Ethics and Public Policy Center argue that Congress needs to put the brakes on the health care reform rollout: “As the implementation of the major provisions of Obamacare approaches, it is increasingly… more »
  03:56:15 pm, by MedBen5   , 246 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Cancer Specialists Call For More Sensible Drug Pricing

Some influential cancer specialists have had it up to here with the high cost of prescription drugs, and have banded together to make their case to pharmaceutical companies, The New York Times reports. In a commentary published in the journal of the… more »

04/26/13

  05:18:55 pm, by MedBen5   , 303 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Capitol Hill Responds To Congressional Exemption Rumors

A Politico article earlier this week that claimed Congressional leaders were discussing ways to exempt lawmakers and their aides from health insurance exchanges – a requirement under the Affordable Care Act – has put Capital Hill Democrats… more »
  04:32:01 pm, by MedBen5   , 188 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

FDA Offers Greater Transparency Through New Patient Website

To give Americans the opportunity to get a closer look at how medications receive government approval, the Food and Drug Administration this week launched a new website called the FDA Patient Network. According to MedCity News, the site serves as… more »

04/25/13

  05:03:28 pm, by MedBen5   , 301 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Stand-alone HRAs No Longer Allowed In 2014

Effective January 1, 2014, “stand-alone” health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) can no longer stand alone. In a Frequently Asked Questions released earlier this year regarding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Departments… more »
  01:05:52 pm, by MedBen5   , 147 words,  
Categories: Announcements

Majority Of ER Visits Avoidable, Study Finds

More than two out of three emergency room visits are avoidable, finds a new study by Truven Health Analytics. According to Employee Benefit News, researchers examined insurance claims data for over 6.5 million emergency department visits made in… more »

04/24/13

  05:42:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 329 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Reform Goal Of Reducing Uninsured May Have Opposite Effect

Greg Scandlen a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute, asserts that the number of uninsured will actually go up under health care reform. Highlights are found below; you can read his complete thoughts at John Goodman’s Health Policy Blog.… more »
  12:26:02 pm, by MedBen5   , 301 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Health Plan Management

Some Newer Generics No Bargain, At First

Leslie Ramirez, an internal medicine physician, observes that the price of some prescription drugs don’t drop much when they become first available in generic form – and considers why this is so: “Patients are used to paying a high… more »
  11:47:53 am, by MedBen5   , 184 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Study Suggests Link Between Obesity And Prostate Cancer

New research links male obesity to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer, HealthDay News (via WebMD) reports. The 14-year study examined data from nearly 500 men whose prostates were all initially found to be noncancerous, or benign. Later… more »

04/23/13

  05:05:58 pm, by MedBen5   , 197 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Little Chance That Transitional Reinsurance Fee Will Decrease

Beginning next year, an Affordable Care Act regulation will require group health insurance carriers and third party administrators, on behalf of group health plans, to contribute funding to a reinsurance transitional reinsurance pool for carriers in the… more »
  04:35:37 pm, by MedBen5   , 191 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

Pondering The Future Of Colonoscopies

Will colonoscopies someday be retired in favor of a less invasive form of screening? Pretty much so, says gastroenterologist Michael Kirsch: “Gastroenterologists have successfully prevailed against CT colonography, a competing test which examines… more »

04/22/13

  11:50:43 am, by MedBen5   , 202 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Scammers Taking Advantage Of Health Care Reform Confusion

Public confusion over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has led to an increase in health insurance scams, NPR reports. In 2012, the federal goverment received nearly 80,000 complaints of suspected fraudulent activity – up 12% from the… more »
  11:22:21 am, by MedBen5   , 321 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

Don't Push Patient Into Radiation Therapy, Oncologist Says

Some thoughts on giving patients a greater degree of autonomy in decision-making, from Miranda Fielding, a radiation oncologist: “Last week I saw a new patient, a genuinely lovely and intelligent woman of 70 years, who was diagnosed with breast cancer… more »

04/19/13

  12:17:17 pm, by MedBen5   , 244 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Experts Consider FDA OxyContin Decision

Experts are weighing in on the announcement by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this week that drugmakers cannot produce generic versions of OxyContin, NPR reports. Because Purdue Pharma replaced its original version in 2010 with a more… more »
  11:34:01 am, by MedBen5   , 212 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

"Grace Period" Rule Could Steer Providers From Exchanges

A provision of the Affordable Care Act has gotten relatively little attention, but has the potential to create some enormous headaches for health care providers. Family Practice News reports that the “grace period” provision allows 90 days… more »

04/18/13

  11:06:47 am, by MedBen5   , 264 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Doctor Says Hospital Profit Study Doesn't Look At Bigger Picture

A study that infers that hospitals benefit from longer patients stays due to complications was bound to get the attention of the medical community – and indeed, one physician has already weighed in on the findings. The study, which we posted… more »
  10:25:16 am, by MedBen5   , 204 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Co-author Of Affordable Care Act Foresees "Huge Train Wreck"

“The administration’s public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, I think, deserve a failing grade. You need to fix it.” That quote comes from Senator Max Baucus (D-Mt.), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, speaking to… more »

04/17/13

  05:11:24 pm, by MedBen5   , 108 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

My, How We've Grown: An Animated U.S. Obesity Map

Here’s a telling – not to mention, disturbing – bit of animation… This map from the Centers for Disease Control shows the spread of obesity in the United States from 1985 to 2010. As the progession up the color legend goes from… more »
  11:01:35 am, by MedBen5   , 183 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Patient Complications Can Help Hospital's Bottom Line, Study Finds

Hospitals benefit financially from patient complications after surgery, a new study suggests. According to the Hill’s Healthwatch Blog, researchers found that hospitals make roughly $30,000 more from patients who suffer at least one complication… more »
  10:25:32 am, by MedBen5   , 184 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

FDA Says "No" To Generic OxyContin, For Now

The painkiller drug OxyContin will not be available in less expensive form anytime soon, following a Food and Drug Administration announcement yesterday that it would not approve generic versions of its original formulation. The New York Times reports… more »

04/16/13

  05:28:32 pm, by MedBen5   , 208 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Lower Rx Bill Through Generics, Not By Skipping Doses

While the U.S. slowly recovers from the recession, many Americans look for ways to trim their budgets – and not every cost-cutting decision is in their best interest. According to Pharmalot, nearly 13% of adults between the ages of 18 and 64 have… more »
  05:15:14 pm, by MedBen5   , 224 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Small-Business Owners Grapple With "Employer Mandate"

“Small-business owners across the U.S. are bracing for the health-care law that kicks in next year, fearing it will increase the cost of providing insurance to employees. “But Rick Levi, a business owner in Des Moines, Iowa, is among… more »
  12:19:41 pm, by MedBen5   , 210 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Health Plan Management

Computer-Aided Mammogram Study Raises Cost Issue

Balancing the availability of advanced medical testing with real-world financial realities can be very tricky – a point that a new study makes clear. According to HealthDay News (via WebMD), researchers concluded that adding computer-aided… more »

04/15/13

  05:21:57 pm, by MedBen5   , 397 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

When Faced With An Improper Medical Bill, Take Action

Should you ever receive a medical bill that you feel is questionable, incorrect or improper, there are measures you can take to deal with it. The Los Angeles Times offers several suggestions, which we summarize here: Know your rights. Most states have… more »
  11:49:01 am, by MedBen5   , 247 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Obama Administration Anticipates Exchanges Will Cost $4 Billion In 2014

Getting health insurance exchanges up and running nationwide clearly won’t come cheap. In its fiscal 2014 budget request relased last week, the Obama administration estimates that the federal government will spend about $4 billion on those… more »
  11:04:52 am, by MedBen5   , 163 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Drug Companies Tighten Belt On Doctor Freebies

“[Drugmakers] Pfizer Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC last year reduced payments to U.S. doctors by double-digit percentages, spending less money on dinners and other events where expert doctors are paid to give presentations to peers about drugs and… more »

04/12/13

  05:22:48 pm, by MedBen5   , 218 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

President's Budget Wants Smaller Insurance Tax Breaks For Higher Earners

Earlier this week, President Obama submitted his Fiscal Year 2014 Proposed Budget, which calls for $3.77 trillion in overall spending. On its website, the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation highlighted several aspects of the budget of particular… more »
  04:56:26 pm, by MedBen5   , 252 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Cancer Report Finds Positive Developments And Areas For Improvement

The American Cancer Society just released a “good news-bad news” report on the state of cancer in America, according to HealthDay News (via WebMD). The good news: Cigarette smoking rates continue to drop. Especially impressive is the rate… more »
  11:10:44 am, by MedBen5   , 178 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Keeping Young Adults On Health Care Plan Raises Costs, Study Finds

Young adults who opted to remain on their parents’ coverage under an Affordable Care Act provision incurred somewhat higher costs that those who had their own coverage, according to new research by the Employee Benefits Research Institute. The… more »

04/11/13

  05:15:44 pm, by MedBen5   , 193 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Morning Sickness Pill Makes A Belated Return

Three decades after it was removed from the shelves, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a return of the only drug specifically designated to treat morning sickness, the Associated Press reports. Once called Bendectin and now renamed… more »
  04:38:19 pm, by MedBen5   , 178 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Several States Pushing Stop-loss Changes To Discourage Self-funding

In an effort to keep smaller businesses from funding health care benefits for their employees, four states – California, Minnesota, Utah and Rhode Island – have introduced legislature that would limit stop-loss coverage for self-insured… more »

04/10/13

  05:14:12 pm, by MedBen5   , 172 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Some Drugmaker Reps Tight-Lipped About Side Effects, Doctors Say

A new study of family doctors finds that 59% of drug company representatives typically share little to no information about their products’ side effects, according to HealthDay News (via WebMD). Additionally, salespeople tend not to warn doctors… more »
  04:48:36 pm, by MedBen5   , 185 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Less Than 20% Of Employer Plans Still Grandfathered

Fewer health plans have retained their grandfathered status since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports. Less than one out of five employers currently offer at least one plan that is excempt… more »

04/09/13

  02:51:22 pm, by MedBen5   , 299 words,  
Categories: Prescription

Regulations Artificially Inflate Drug Costs

Compared to hospital and physician care, prescription drug therapy is an inexpensive way to treat illnesses – but still not as cost-effective as it could be. The National Center for Policy Analysis has identified several “Unnecessary Regulations… more »

04/08/13

  10:52:14 am, by MedBen5   , 320 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Health Plan Management

Oncologists Propose Plan To Slow Cancer Treatment Costs

In a New York Times opinion piece, “20 prominent members of the oncology community", noting that costs to treat cancer are rising faster than all other areas of medicine, offer a five-point plan to fix cancer care. We summarize their points below:… more »
  10:18:00 am, by MedBen5   , 223 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

IRS Amends Pay Or Play Rule For Multiemployer Plans

The Internal Revenue Service recently clarified a transition rule pertaining to the “pay or play” mandate of the Affordable Care Act. According to Robert Projansky of Proskauer’s ERISA Practice Center Blog, an employer required by a… more »
  09:47:01 am, by MedBen5   , 219 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

Judge Rules For Greater Access To Emergency Contraceptives

A federal judge ruled last week that the goverment must make the so-called “morning after” pill – an emergency contraceptive – available to all women regardless of age, HealthDay News (via WebMD) reports. Judge Edward Korman of… more »

04/05/13

  05:07:25 pm, by MedBen5   , 216 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

More Americans Report Having High Blood Pressure

Chalk it up to sedentary lifestyles, stress, or simply greater awareness of the condition, but the number of people who say they have high blood pressure is on the rise. According to WebMD HealthDay News (via WebMD), self-reported cases of hypertension… more »
  04:31:47 pm, by MedBen5   , 179 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

Drug Shortages Force Patients To Seek Out Alternatives

Nearly a year ago, we noted on this blog that the problem of drug shortages, which reached record numbers in 2011, had shown signs of improvement. And while that may still be the case, some patients and pharmacies still struggle to procure needed… more »

04/04/13

  11:32:06 am, by MedBen5   , 294 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Group Financial Incentives Work Well For Wellness, Study Finds

Sure, dangling the money carrot in front of an employee to encourage weight loss can be effective. But turning it into a competition or group effort may work even better, a new study suggests. According to HealthDay News (via MedicineNet.com):… more »
  10:49:53 am, by MedBen5   , 216 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

PCIP Problems Possible Sign Of Things To Come, Economist Warns

Financial headaches brought on by the federal government’s pre-existing condition program could prove a harbinger of even higher costs under health care reform, a health economist warned lawmakers yesterday. According to MedPage Today, the… more »
  10:23:09 am, by MedBen5   , 223 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

"Shampoo, Mascara And Cholesterol Treatment, Please..."

Walgreens has announced that in addition to offering basic preventive care services, it will also provide diagnosis and treatment for such chronic conditions as asthma, diabetes and high chosterol – the first retail store to do so, USA Today… more »

04/03/13

  05:17:10 pm, by MedBen5   , 241 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Independent ERs Feeling Heat From Patients, Insurers and Hospitals

Bloomberg News (via Employee Benefits News) reports on a growing backlash against independent emergency rooms. While these free-standing facilities are popular with some patients – often offering 24-hour service, minimal waits, board-certified… more »
  04:25:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 255 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Health Plan Management

The Hospital That Refused To Carry An Expensive Drug -- And Why

David Kesterbuam of NPR shares the story of a hospital that dared to say “no” to a pricey new cancer drug, for a simple – and perfectly logical – reason: “Last year, a new drug called Zaltrap was approved as a kind of… more »

04/02/13

  09:49:36 pm, by MedBen5   , 164 words,  
Categories: Health Plan Management

Health Subsidies: Crunching The Numbers

The Associated Press (via The Washington Post) offers some examples of how health subsidies will work for individuals who purchase coverage under state-run exchanges. Under the Affordable Care Act, premiums paid by taxpayers will be tied to their… more »
  09:29:52 pm, by MedBen5   , 168 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness

Tonsillectomies May Reduce Sore Throats In Adults

Tonsillectomies: They’re not just for children anymore. Actually, they never were. But getting one’s tonsils removed is typically thought of a surgical procedure for the young. Meanwhile, many grown-ups suffer from recurrent sore throats… more »

04/01/13

  04:05:56 pm, by MedBen5   , 253 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management

Reinsurance Fee Unfair, Some Large Employers Say

The transitional reinsurance fee hasn’t got nearly the same notoriety as other provisions of the Affordable Care Act, but for many businesses it may be a pricey little afterthought. Beginning in 2014, employers will pay an additional $63 for each… more »
  03:06:59 pm, by MedBen5   , 213 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Wellness

FDA Approves First-in-Class Diabetes Drug

With the rise in U.S. diabetes cases – and correspondingly, its costs – it comes as no surprise that the pharmaceutical industry has stepped up its efforts to control the condition. And last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved a… more »