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MedBen Municipality Clients Saw Lower Claim Costs in 2018

Municipality Roundtable

"In 2018, per-employee net claim costs for our municipality block decreased 4.9% from 2017," announced MedBen Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at the 13th Annual Municipality Roundtable on April 11. This reduced cost factors both medical and pharmacy claims.

Considering pharmacy alone, in 2018 MedBen municipality clients realized a 9.3% cost reduction in Rx claims per member. The drop coincided with the introduction of MedBen Rx, pharmacy programs that pay claims based on actual drug costs.

Fargus also highlighted the positive effect of direct-to-employer contracting on lowering plan costs: "Municipalities that used direct-to-employer contracting in 2018 saved, on average, an additional $1,500 per employee per year." Nearly one in five health plans now contract directly with hospitals and physicians to reduce care costs.

MedBen will be conducting additional MedBen University sessions in 2019 that examine claims and utilization trends, including our annual Employer Benefits Roundtable in Newark, Ohio. Invitations for this event, which focuses on self-funded private sector businesses, have been mailed out, so keep an eye out for yours!


  04:34:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 153 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Preventive care, Influenza

Flu Season Not Over Yet

flu shot

If you’ve made it safely though flu season so far, congratulations… but don’t let your guard down just yet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an unexpected second viral wave has extended this flu season to 21 weeks, the longest in 10 years. Experts say this current flu strain, which started in mid-February, is stronger than the initial strain that began around Thanksgiving.

While this season isn't as harsh as last winter's, the CDC estimates that between 35,000 and 55,000 Americans will die from the flu and its complications. Over 41 million people have showed flu symptoms.

If you haven't gotten a flu shot yet, it's not too late to visit your family doctor for a vaccination. But even if you have, it's still important to take common-sense preventive measures, such as washing your hands frequently and covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. And if you're sick, please stay home and rest!


  03:50:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 193 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Preventive care, Cholesterol, Specialty Care

Statins Alone No Guarantee of Lower Cholesterol


Taking statins alone doesn't guarantee lower cholesterol, suggests a new study in which fewer than half of participating users of the drug failed to reach target cholesterol levels.

Using data that tracked over 165,000 statin users, researchers found that over a two-year period, just 48.8% saw a reduction of 40% or more in LDL or "bad" cholesterol. The researchers also concluded that statin users who didn't achieve target cholesterol levels were 22% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who did.

Lowering cholesterol is vital to longevity, which is why high cholesterol is among the risk factors for which individuals can receive intervention and management through MedBen WellLiving. Our specialty care program identifies plan members who could benefit from one-on-one, disease-specific counseling through nurse coaching.

Candidates for specialty care are contacted by an RN Health Consultant via phone, letter or e-mail and offered customized education and coaching. To encourage a long-term commitment to reducing bad cholesterol, follow-up calls can be scheduled on a routine basis.

Specialty care is just one way that MedBen WellLiving helps employers promote a healthier workforce. To get additional details, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or


  09:14:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 192 words,  
Categories: News, Health Plan Management, Hospitals, Research, Primary care

ER Visits Up, but Non-Emergency Usage Down

emergency room

Emergency room visits rose to an all-time high of 145.6 million in 2016, according to a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the percentage of ER patients who needed regular care fell from 5.5% in 2015 to 4.3% in 2016 – a decrease that may indicate more people with non-emergencies are seeking remedies from their family doctor or less-pricey urgent care facilities first.

ER benefits can be tricky, as no health plan wants to discourage individuals from visiting an ER when the need is vital. But the relative convenience of the ER results in visits from patients who could be better served by a primary care physician, ultimately costing the client much more for the same care. MedBen helps clients strike the proper benefits balance.

As with all aspects of plan design, MedBen works with clients to help them offer ER and urgent care benefits that properly address employee population needs. Demographics, geography and claim history all factor into the plan design process, and MedBen is experienced in considering all these elements.

Learn more about MedBen's strategic approach to plan design by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or


  02:10:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 175 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, Reporting

MedBen Introduces Enhanced Reporting Platform

growth chart

To give employers the most accurate and up-to-date information possible, MedBen has partnered with Deerwalk, Inc. to provide an upgraded data analytics and reporting platform. The strong reporting that MedBen clients come to expect is now even stronger.

With our enhanced reporting platform, we’ve kept what works and added valuable new features, including:

  • Client data now updated every two weeks (previously monthly).
  • Report generation using up to five years of data, rather than on a rolling two-year basis.
  • Reports and charts can be customized and auto-generated on a scheduled basis.

The enhanced MedBen reporting platform incorporates hindsight (what happened and why?), insight (what’s happening right now?), and foresight (what’s going to happen next, and what should I do about it?). This integrated analytics approach offers clients actionable clinical insights and detail unrivaled in data reporting.

We’re confident you’ll find that our enhanced reporting platform takes data analysis to a higher level. A MedBen team member will be in contact with you soon to offer you a demonstration of the dashboard and the new reporting features.


  09:27:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 213 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Hypertension, Preventive care

Controlling Blood Pressure Essential to Long-Term Health

blood pressure reading

When you see your family doctor, they'll likely check your blood pressure regardless of the purpose for your visit... and for good reason. High blood pressure affects a third of adults ages 40-59 and nearly two-thirds of those 60 and older.

"If left untreated, [high blood pressure] can lead to increased risk of a heart attack, heart failure, stroke and vision loss," warns Dr. Kevin Wile, a family medicine physician at Penn State Health. "It essentially has the ability to affect almost any organ in the body if you go a long time without controlling it."

The American Heart Association now defines high blood pressure as 130/80 and over. Because high blood pressure is often linked to other health problems – smoking, obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise – it helps to have a medical ally to keep your blood pressure in check.

MedBen WellLiving focuses on early detection of high blood pressure and other chronic conditions. Because even moderately high blood pressure puts individuals at greater risk for disease, our wellness program encourages your employees to develop a doctor-patient relationship so elevated blood pressure can be detected and controlled.

Having MedBen WellLiving in your corner helps promote a healthier employee population. Get more information by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at or 888-627-8683.


  03:25:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 191 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Cost savings

Overprescribing Drugs Raises Costs, Health Risks

pills and prescription

The ongoing movement to reduce prescription drug spending focuses primarily on the cost factor. But as Shannon Brownlee and Judith Garber contend in a Stat opinion piece, overprescribing of drugs also carries financial and health risks.

"Between 2000 and 2012, the proportion of adults in the U.S. who were taking five or more medications nearly doubled, from 8.2 percent to 15 percent," write the co-authors, who are staff members of the Lown Institute. Among adults age 65 and over, 42 percent take at least five medications.

While recognizing that multiple medications are sometimes needed, Brownlee and Garber argue that overprescribing can lead to potentially fatal adverse drug events: "If nothing is done, adverse drug events over the next decade can be expected to cause 4.6 million hospitalizations of older Americans, 74 million outpatient visits, and nearly 150,000 premature deaths."

Brownlee and Garber predict that a focus on reducing overprescribing could save up to $62 billion over the next decade in unnecessary hospitalization for older adults alone.

For patients who visit multiple doctors, it's critical to ensure that every one of those doctors is aware of the prescription (and non-prescription) drugs they're taking to reduce the risk of adverse interactions and duplication.


  04:10:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 182 words,  
Categories: Health Care Reform, Regulatory, Affordable Care Act

Federal Court Strikes Down Association Health Plan Rule


While the legal future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) recently made the headlines, another legal decision related to the ACA also has a direct bearing on self-funded employers. On March 28, a federal judge struck down the Department of Labor's expansion of association health plan (AHP) regulations.

The proposed AHP regulations allowed smaller employers located in the same state but not related by industry to band together for the purpose of providing self-funded health care coverage for their employees. But because the plans weren't subject to ACA requirements, U.S. District Judge John Bates deemed them unlawful and "clearly an end-run around the ACA."

The decision also impacts self-employed individuals who wish to participate in an AHP. Industry-related employers were not affected by the ruling, however.

In a written statement, the Self-Insurance Institute of America (SIIA) said that it was "disappointed by the ruling and continues to advocate for an appropriate path for the establishment of AHPs for self-employed individuals, and unrelated employers. In addition, SIIA feels strongly in the allowance of self-insured AHP formation under the same rules permitted for fully-insured AHPs."


  04:14:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 232 words,  
Categories: News, Health Care Reform, Compliance, Self-funding, Affordable Care Act

Future of Affordable Care Act? Cloudy


There's been a flurry of news lately regarding the fate of Affordable Care Act (ACA), but for self-funded employers, it adds up to business as usual… at least for the moment.

On March 25, the Justice Department informed the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that it supported a ruling by a Texas federal judge that the ACA is unconstitutional and should be struck down in its entirety. Depending on the 5th Circuit’s decision, the matter will likely end up in the Supreme Court.

In the wake of the Justice Department's action, President Trump announced that his administration would move forward with Senate Republicans to once again try to repeal and replace the ACA. But on April 1 Trump reversed course, saying that any such attempts would wait until after the 2020 election.

The wild card in all this activity is whether the Supreme Court declares the ACA unconstitutional. Should it do so, then all the rules put in place under the law become invalid, including the employer mandate. But if not, then the ACA will likely remain the law of the land until at least 2021.

As always, the MedBen Compliance team will follow all ACA developments and inform clients of how any pending changes may affect their health plan. In the meantime, if you ever have questions regarding federal and state regulations, you are welcome to contact Senior Vice President Caroline Fraker at 800-851-0907 or


  03:19:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 228 words,  
Categories: Dental, Heart, Research, Diabetes, MedBen PreceDent

Regular Dental Checkups Can Help Spot Diseases


When you go in for your twice-yearly dental exam, your dentist isn't just seeing if you've been brushing. Teeth and gums provide a wealth of medical information – and may even alert the dentist to the possibility of multiple diseases.

  • Diabetes. Missing teeth and periodontal pockets may be indicators that a patient has diabetes or is at risk for developing the disease.
  • Heart Disease. "Inflamed gums and loose teeth can be warnings of heart disease," says Alyson Hope Koslow, DDS, of the University of Illinois Chicago.
  • Dementia. Because gum disease-related bacteria can reach the brain causing inflammation, poor oral hygiene can serve as a warning sign to the dentist.
  • Kidney Disease. In addition to gum problems, symptoms such as dry mouth and bad breath may indicate the existence of kidney disease.

The potential revelations don't end there. Osteoporosis, leukemia, and oral and pancreatic cancers are all detectable through regular dental checkups – and sound dental coverage, like that offered through MedBen PreceDent, goes a long way in encouraging healthier teeth and gums.

MedBen PreceDent offers reduced costs through network care, as well as such value-added services as dental implants and periodontal scaling. And preventive care (which includes exams) is covered in full.

MedBen PreceDent is a valuable tool toward better overall health. Learn more about its advantages by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or


  11:05:00 am, by MedBen5   , 217 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Transparency, Pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), MedBen Rx, Rebates

Rx Spending Hikes Call for Smart Solutions


In just four years, U.S. retail prescription drug spending grew nearly 27%... a substantial increase that illustrates the need for pharmacy solutions like those available through MedBen Rx.

A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that annual spending on retail prescription drugs rose from $250.7 billion in 2012 to $341 billion in 2016. Drug spending outpaced all other types of health care expenditures, and is expected to continue to rise faster in the future.

While drug spending shows little signs of slowing, MedBen Rx counters spending growth with a smart approach to reducing pharmacy costs. Our programs eliminate the elements that contribute to higher spending, like pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and artificially inflated wholesale prices. Instead, we base a drug's price its actual pharmacy cost plus an appropriate dispensing fee, so you pay less.

The report also notes that to offset spending increases, PBMs passed through a larger percentage of rebates to employers and other payers – 91% in 2016 compared to 78% in 2012 (though PBMs got some of that back with higher administration fees). Meanwhile, MedBen Rx continues to offer total transparency, ensuring that 100% of rebates go back to the employer.

Don't let rising drug spending get the best of your health care plan. Learn about the MedBen Rx difference by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or


  02:37:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 225 words,  
Categories: News, Online Services, Flexible spending accounts (FSAs), Debit cards

Buying Online with Your MedBen FSA Debit Card

MedBen debit card

Recent news that online retailer Amazon now allows consumers to use their flexible savings account (FSA) funds to buy medical items serves as a timely opportunity to remind FSA members that MedBen debit cards can be used to make online purchases in addition to buying from brick-and-mortar outlets. The FSA debit card can be used to purchase a variety of items, from blood pressure and glucose monitoring devices to contact lens solutions.

It should be emphasized that only medical items classified as qualifying expenses can be purchased using FSA funds, and that applies for both physical and online stores. FSA members can view a list of eligible expenses by visiting the “IRS-Eligible Expenses” page at

Equally important to note: Not every online medical supplier participates in the FSA debit card program, including some better-known companies. If you attempt to purchase items using your card, the transaction may be declined. So be sure to confirm that the website accepts FSA debit cards before you shop... those that do often sell eligible items on a dedicated FSA Store page.

If you have any questions about using your MedBen FSA debit card, please contact MedBen Customer Service at (800) 297-1829 or If you've received a card but haven't activated it, call the toll-free number on the card or activate it online using your member ID and zip code.


  01:56:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 200 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, Quality, ISO

Successful ISO Audit Confirms MedBen Commitment to Quality

ISO 9000 Certified

An ongoing commitment to ISO 9001 quality standards requires putting yourself to the test... which is why every six months, MedBen does just that. During our most recent audit on March 14, independent auditor SAI Global reviewed the measures that we’re taking to uphold quality, and based on their audit recommended that our ISO 9001 Certification continue.

Review elements vary from one audit to the next. This time, the audit included an evaluation of MedBen's quality objectives and an evaluation of customer feedback. In addition, multiple department processes were scrutinized and departmental personnel interviewed to get further insight on work procedures.

Regardless of an ISO audit's scope or direction, the auditor always considers whether MedBen's management system is being properly utilized – and when appropriate, will note opportunities to improve processes. In this way, we can ensure that we’re maintaining quality while considering changes that will provide even better service to our clients.

MedBen achieved ISO 9001 Certification in 2005. In addition to the semi-annual reviews, the company undergoes an ISO recertification audit every three years to demonstrate that our commitment to quality continues unabated.

SAI Global provides organizations around the world with information services and solutions for managing risk, achieving compliance and driving business improvement.


  04:20:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 219 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Heart, Preventive care, Primary care

Wellness Focus Cited as Reason for Drop in Heart Attacks

heart EKG

MedBen WellLiving promotes positive lifestyle changes… the very sort of changes that has led to a marked reduction in the number of older Americans dying from heart attacks.

According to HealthDay News, a Yale University study of Medicare patients revealed that hospitalizations for heart attacks dropped 38% between 1995 and 2014. Furthermore, deaths within 30 days of a heart attack reached an all-time low of 12% – a decrease of more than one-third.

"This is really amazing progress," said lead researcher Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a Professor of Cardiology. He pointed to widespread efforts to promote preventive care as contributing to the reported gains.

With its emphasis on prevention and early detection of chronic conditions, adding MedBen WellLiving to your health care plan can be an effective means of helping your employees reduce their heart attack risk. Through our primary prevention program, plan members work with their family doctors to control high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.

Plan members who are at higher risk for heart attack can also benefit from our specialty care program. We offer individualized nurse coaching to help members address coronary artery disease, hypertension and cholesterol issues.

Through primary prevention and specialty care, MedBen WellLiving can help you take a proactive approach to a healthier workplace. Find out how by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Farfus at 888-627-8683 or


MedBen Tops Central Ohio Businesses List

Once again, MedBen has topped the list of Largest Central Ohio Employee Benefits Companies as ranked by Columbus Business First in their February 15, 2019 issue.

Largest Central Ohio Employee Benefits Companies

"While we have clients all across the country, our roots are firmly planted in Central Ohio," said MedBen President and CEO Kurt Harden. "And because we can draw from the local talent pool, I think we've assembled a talented and innovative benefits management team."

Harden noted that over a quarter of MedBen's employees have been with the company for over two, and in some cases three, decades. "We take great pride in our stability, not only as it ensures that our clients receive quality service over the long term, but also that it reflects well on our working environment," he said.

The local element of MedBen extends to its service offerings. "Many of our most popular services have a regional underpinning, such as our community health plans and direct-to-employer contracting. Most recently, we introduced MedBen Rx Alliance, which brings together area hospitals and pharmacies to provide lower-cost drugs to qualified organizations," Harden said.

“The Rx Alliance builds on work we’ve done with our hospital clients for over a decade, and enhances our acquisition cost index pharmacy program that has saved our clients significant claim costs by cutting the hidden margins out of prescription drug benefit programs.”

MedBen is also one of the oldest companies on the list, having begun operations in May of 1938.


  10:27:00 am, by MedBen5   , 236 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Preventive care, Specialty Care, Stroke

Stroke Afflicts Young and Old Alike

stroke word collage

The recent passing of actor Luke Perry from a stroke at age 52 has placed a spotlight on a condition that is widely known of but not necessarily understood. While the majority of strokes occur in those 65 and older, in recent years they have been on the rise for younger people as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds... and someone dies from it every 4 minutes. Moreover, stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.

Most strokes result from a blocked artery (called an ischemic stroke) or a brain hemorrhage (a hemorrhagic stroke). Symptoms of a possible stroke include numbness of the face, arm, or leg, difficulty speaking, and sudden dizziness or headache.

As stroke risk is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other chronic conditions, a focus on healthier lifestyles can help to decrease the risk. MedBen WellLiving features a specialty care program in which plan members identified with these risk factors are contacted to receive individualized and confidential nurse coaching.

Through specialty care coupled with prevention and early detection, MedBen WellLiving offers proven solutions to reduce the risk of stroke and other debilitating conditions in your employee population. Get more information about our wellness advantage by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or


  01:27:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 197 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Cost savings, MedBen Rx, MedBen Rx Advocate, MedBen Rx Alliance

All MedBen Clients Can Benefit from Rx Solutions


MedBen Rx offers employers a better way to provide and manage prescription benefits, regardless of their size or industry type. Our pharmacy solutions counter inflated prescription list prices with common-sense reimbursement methods.

  • Self-funded employers can take advantage of the MedBen Rx Advocate difference. We make your prescription program totally transparent, with no margin manipulation or arbitrary average wholesale prices. Just the real cost the pharmacy pays plus an appropriate dispensing fee. MedBen passes 100% of paid rebates back to you… and with Rx Advocate, your rebates could even be better.
  • MedBen Rx Alliance is an innovative partnership program brings together the purchasing power of hospitals to certain qualified organizations, creating savings opportunities unmatched when compared to standard PBM pricing.

Regardless of what MedBen Rx program you use, your pharmacy plan will realize lower costs. MedBen clients save, on average, 11% or more compared to traditional plans that base their prices on the average wholesale price (AWP) price of a drug.

MedBen Rx leverages its prescription and benefits management expertise to make drug coverage beneficial to customers and communities. Find out how it can benefit your business by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or


FSA/HRA Reimbursement Request Deadline is March 31

cashier receiving debit card

A few reminders for MedBen clients who offer flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and/or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) to their plan members:

  • For most FSA and HRA plans that have a January effective date, March 31, 2019 is the final day of the run-out period in which plan members can turn in reimbursement requests for qualified 2018 purchases. Alternately, your FSA plan may allow a "grace period" for members to spend remaining 2018 funds by March 15, but still adhere to the March 31 deadline for reimbursement requests.
  • Some FSA and HRA plans may have a different run-out period. If you need clarification about your plan's deadline, just call MedBen Customer Service at 800-297-1829.
  • Many HRAs allow remaining funds from the prior year to be rolled over for future use, while some FSAs allow up to $500 of funds to be carried over from year to year. But in either case, after March 31 plan members will no longer be able to use those funds for outstanding 2018 expenses. (Note that plans offering the FSA grace period option cannot also offer carryovers, and vice versa.)
  • Plan members who need FSA/HRA reimbursement forms can download them from the website, by clicking on the “Plan Members” button and selecting "FSA and HRA" from the "Forms" drop-down box. FSA members can also confirm whether or not a medical expense qualifies for reimbursement by selecting "IRS-Eligible Expenses" from the "Additional Resources" drop-down box.
  • Additionally, our online service site MedBen Access enables FSA/HRA plan members to keep track of their account balances, claims submissions and payments. Simply visit, select "MedBen Access" and, once logged in, click on “FSA/HRA Online Inquiry” under the “My Plan” section.

MedBen clients with additional questions regarding their FSAs or HRAs may call MedBen Customer Service at 800-297-1829.


  05:04:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 334 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Heart, Hypertension, Preventive care, Cholesterol, Primary care

The Heart of the Matter

heart hands

Extremely Important Tip: A healthy heart is essential to your well-being.

Okay, you probably already knew that. But one cannot overstate the difference a well-functioning ticker makes to your overall health. And not just physical wellness, either... chronic heart disease can also lead to anxiety or depression, and vice versa.

Each year, heart disease and stroke are responsible for an estimated 17 million deaths worldwide. In the U.S., one out of every three deaths is tied to heart disease, and nearly half of adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, heart failure and high blood pressure.

But there is good news: Good heart health is a fairly common-sense endeavour. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, exercise regularly, minimize stress, and get at least eight hours of sleep every night. And for you smokers out there, please don’t think that so-called “e-cigarettes” are a smart substitute for the real thing – early research suggests that vaping can also increase your risk of stroke or heart attack.

In addition to healthy lifestyle choices, your best bet for keeping your heart in the pink (red?) is to visit your family doctor every year. During your annual wellness exam, the physician will monitor your heart activity and run tests to ensure that your blood pressure and cholesterol are at heart-healthy levels.

Full story »


  11:22:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 311 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, Health Plan Management, Client Services, MedBen University

MedBen University in Session Soon!

MedBen University logo

MedBen University (MBU) is soon to begin its 18th season! Our educational seminar series offers practical guidance about benefit planning and timely regulatory updates. Plus, you’ll have the chance to pose questions to our team of professionals and discuss coverage concepts with other self-funded employers.

MBU starts this season with three benefits management roundtables. These special sessions use data from MedBen's business blocks as a springboard for a discussion of medical and pharmacy claim trends, showing where your health care dollars are going and helping you spot opportunities to lower costs.

All three events will be held at the C. Arthur Morrow Conference Center, 1821 W. Main Street, Newark, Ohio (located next to the MedBen home office). Invitations will be mailed soon, so keep an eye out for yours!

Full story »

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