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01/23/19

  06:48:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 369 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Preventive care

Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

pointing to January 1 on calendar

Are you among the 8% of Americans who made a New Year’s resolution last year and stuck to it? If so, congratulations! If not, a new year has begun, and it is full of new opportunities. And there are simple steps you can take to help successfully achieve your wellness goals this year.

Think positive. For example, instead of making your goal to “lose weight,” try making it to “eat healthier” or to “exercise more.” Positive resolutions will keep you more motivated than negative ones.

Make it measurable. Creating a measurable and specific goal, such as “exercise three times each week after work” instead of just “exercise,” will make it easier for you to know when you have accomplished something. And be sure to remember that even the small successes add up in the big picture.

Be realistic. It is not sensible to go from watching television all day to being able to “run a six-minute mile” or “bench press 300 pounds.” Something more realistic would be to begin walking thirty minutes each day and gradually increase the time or intensity as you get used to it.

Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Not only will this keep you working towards your resolution, but it may also make those around you consider making healthier choices as well. In addition, we encourage you to talk to your family doctor before making any lifestyle changes in order to make sure you are doing what is best for your health.

Full story »

01/13/19

  11:22:00 am, by MedBen5   , 217 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Discounts, Cost savings, Research, MedBen Rx, Rebates

Fight Back Against New Year’s Drug Price Increases

pills and bill bottle

New year, higher drug prices. According to The Wall Street Journal, a representative analysis of major pharmaceutical companies found that the prices of their brand name and generic drugs have risen by an average of 6.3% in 2019 – modest compared to previous years, but still well outpacing price increases of other common household goods.

Similarly, Reuters reports that prices of more than 250 prescription drugs have already gone up in January, with additional increases expected to be announced later this month.

Pharmaceutical company spokespersons cited multiple explanations for the price increases, including operational expenses and the need to offset payer rebates and discounts. But whatever the reason, it's clear that drug prices will continue to rise disproportionally for the foreseeable future.

MedBen Rx offers pharmaceutical solutions that help employers to avoid the artificial pricing markups that allow for the so-called discounts... an approach that in no way reflects the real cost of the drug.

Regardless of your business type, MedBen Rx offers a pricing strategy that will work with your pharmacy plan to ensure that you pay less. And we feature a variety of benefits management services that further your cost saving potential.

Find out more about how MedBen Rx can help you beat drug pricing trends by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or bfargus@medben.com.

01/12/19

  03:03:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 216 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Research, Influenza

Rising Flu Activity Calls for Preventive Measures

flu shot

If you haven’t got a flu shot yet this season, do it soon! The Centers for Disease Control reports that flu activity has been on the rise of late, with 24 states reporting widespread influenza activity and 19 states reporting high levels of influenza-like illness activity.

These increases come on the heels of the 2017-18 flu season, which caused the deaths of an estimated 80,000 Americans – the most flu-related deaths in at least four decades. This season isn’t expected to be quite that severe, but the rise in activity still underscores the need for preventive measures, starting with a flu shot.

The CDC recommends that everyone aged six months and older should get vaccinated for influenza. If you haven’t had your annual wellness exam yet, it’s the perfect opportunity to get two things done at once. Your family doctor can give you a shot provided you’re not already sick.

Keep in mind that the vaccine takes about two weeks to begin working, so be sure to take other steps to reduce your risk of flu. Wash your hands frequently, stay away from people who are sick, and keep your hands away from your face (especially your eyes, nose, and mouth). And it’s important to get vaccinated each year, as influenza strains are always changing and the vaccinations change as well.

01/11/19

Spousal Coverage Limitations a Smart Strategy

family's hands

The latest Employee Benefits Survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) revealed that just one in five employers (20.1%) use spousal surcharges or carve-outs for health care coverage when other employer-provided health insurance is available.

The finding came as something of surprise for us, as many MedBen clients have adopted spousal coverage limitations as a risk reduction strategy.

Back in 2013, the United Parcel Service (UPS) made headlines when it announced that it was removing thousands of spouses from its medical plan because they are eligible for coverage elsewhere. UPS blamed the Affordable Care Act for its action, but MedBen introduced the strategy well before health care reform became a topic of everyday conversation. And we’ve found that employers that have taken our advice have avoided higher costs due to the elimination of that risk.

Effective spousal plan management can greatly reduce the chance of adverse selection, which can negatively impact an employer health care plan. It also allows employers to offer quality benefits to employees and their families for a longer period of time.

Of course, helping to shape plan design is just one of MedBen’s proven ways to reduce risk. Our benefits management solutions range from leading-edge claims surveillance to advanced reporting – all of which can benefit your business. For additional information about the MedBen Advantage, contact MedBen Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

01/10/19

  04:27:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 225 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Dental, Research, Preventive care

Regular Dental Checkups Can Prevent, Detect Multiple Diseases

dentist

They say that eyes are the windows to the soul, but the mouth can reveal quite a lot, too. Your semi-annual dental checkup can reveal symptoms of multiple diseases in their earliest stages.

Multiple studies have indicated that a healthy set of teeth and gums can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and dementia. One recent analysis even suggested that cancer patients who visit a dentist prior to surgery reduce their risk of postoperative pneumonia or dying within 30 days of treatment.

So, the next time you're think of postponing a teeth cleaning, remember that its benefits can go well beyond an attractive smile. And of course, prevention and early detection translates to lower medical costs.

Adding MedBen PreceDent to your health care plan promotes proper dental habits to your employees. Plan members can choose to use our extensive network of dentists and dental specialists or visit non-network providers if they prefer.

Another advantage of offering MedBen PreceDent: Dental care is among the least expensive benefits employers can provide for their health plan members and serves as an attractive incentive for prospective employees.

Whether as a stand-alone service or part of a total health benefits package, MedBen PreceDent offers valuable care that goes beyond the surface. Learn more by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or bfargus@medben.com.

12/30/18

A Note from Our Executive Chairman and President

To our customers, consultants, and brokers:

Doug Freeman and Kurt Harden

Happy new year from MedBen! In 2018 we celebrated our 80th anniversary, which gave us a chance to reflect on our beginnings and growth as a health benefits manager. It's great to reminisce but we prefer to look forward… so in 2019, we're all about what's ahead for MedBen and, more specifically, for our clients.

In recent months, we've read multiple articles that extol “innovative” new ideas other benefit managers are using to lower their clients' health care costs. We agree that they are great ideas and many of our clients have had these strategies in place for years and already benefit from healthier employee populations and reduced coverage costs.

Benefits management is an ever-changing enterprise, and simply staying the course can be a poor decision. Instead, MedBen remains proactive – anticipating, researching, and experimenting with ways to help you enhance your health care coverage.

Traditional plan designs are giving way to such alternative cost-saving solutions as direct-to-employer contracting, reference-based pricing, and bundled payments... all currently available through MedBen. Likewise, we've moved away from conventional prescription drug coverage to offer pharmacy plans built around the actual cost of the drug, rather than an artificial wholesale price. In the coming months, we’ll be talking to you directly about these and other ways MedBen can improve your plan.

We should note that MedBen never makes changes just for the sake of change itself. Our continual goal is to take what's already good and make it better, be it a better savings opportunity or a better service technique. We’re excited about what MedBen has in store this year and look forward to sharing it with you.

As always, we appreciate the trust you place in us and pledge to continue working hard to earn that trust. Should you ever wish to talk directly to us about your plan or MedBen services, please call us at the numbers listed below.

On behalf of the entire MedBen staff, we offer you our thanks and very best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2019!

Sincerely,

Doug Freeman
Executive Chairman
(740) 522-7339

Kurt Harden
President & CEO
(740) 522-7345

A quick reminder: MedBen will be closed on Tuesday, January 1 and reopen on Wednesday, January 2 at 8:30 a.m. EST. Should you have a claims or benefits question, please visit MedBen Access. Our online service center is available 24/7 for your convenience!

  05:06:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 195 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Cancer, Preventive care, MedBen WellLiving

Study: Following Colonoscopy Guidelines Reduces Cancer Risk, Death

cancer definition

Newly released research suggests that timely colon cancer screenings offer long-term benefits. As reported by UPI, the study found that men and women whose first colonoscopy detected no evidence of cancer had a 46% lower risk of getting a cancer diagnosis in the follow-up screening 10 years later. Those men and women also had an 88% lower risk of death related to colon cancer.

"Our study shows that following a colonoscopy with normal findings, there is a reduced risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer for at least 10 years," said Jeffery Lee, Kaiser Permanente gastroenterologist and study lead author, in a news release.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and the third most common cancer in men and in women.

The MedBen WellLiving program recommends that adults get a colonoscopy screening once every 10 years, from ages 50 to 75. WellLiving members can check their compliance with colonoscopies and other critical wellness examinations by visiting the MedBen Access website and clicking on the "MedBen WellLiving" link under “My Plan”.

To learn more about the advantages of promoting preventive screenings through MedBen WellLiving, contact Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

  03:46:00 am, by MedBen5   , 357 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Discounts, Cost savings, MedBen Rx, Rebates

AWP Smoke and Mirrors

drugs

Drug pricing can be a confusing business… and much of the confusion stems from a drug’s average wholesale price, or AWP.

On the surface, the AWP might seem to be… well, the average wholesale price or the average price of a drug. But the price to who? As straightforward as the acronym sounds, the reality behind the AWP is more complicated.

AWP is a calculated price that is a markup of 1.20 on the drug companies’ “list price” to wholesalers (wholesale acquisition cost, or WAC) or to large buyers (direct price, or DP). The 1.20 markup is the result of a consent decree requirement from a 2009 legal settlement that applied to the industry due to price file manipulation by First DataBank and Medispan, managers of large drug price files for many administrative service vendors. However, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and other vendors that use price file services are under no obligation to provide the actual cost of a drug, so the AWP is more akin to a car's "sticker price" – a starting point from which the actual purchase price can be manipulated.

When administering prescription plans for insurers and self-funded employers, PBMs apply discounts and rebates to the AWP before landing on a final price. But not only is this price arbitrary at best, the PBM may hold back a portion of the discounts and rebates for themselves. So what you ultimately pay bears little resemblance to the actual cost of the drug.

Additionally, some PBMs classify certain generic drugs as brand drugs, further manipulating the AWP in order to take advantage of a greater margin between the actual cost of the drug and the AWP brand discount applied to claims for brand name drugs.

MedBen Rx gets around this margin manipulation by avoiding the AWP altogether. Instead, we use a pricing methodology that reflects what something much closer to what pharmacies pay for drugs. Our pharmacy solutions save clients, on average, 11% compared to the AWP approach. And the rebates go back to the plan.

The MedBen Rx difference simplifies pricing while reducing your costs. Learn more by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

  03:36:00 am, by MedBen5   , 389 words,  
Categories: News, Wellness, Incentives, Compliance, Regulatory

EEOC Instructed to Revise Wellness Incentive Safe Harbor Regulations

doctor and patient

On December 20, 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued two final regulations that remove from the EEOC’s final Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) wellness regulations the safe harbors for determining whether participation in such a wellness program is voluntary. This was in response to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacating the EEOC's wellness rule effective January 1, 2019 and instructing the EEOC to revise the regulations as to the voluntary nature of the safe harbors.

Prior to the regulatory change, the EEOC’s regulatory safe harbors were as follows:

  • The ADA regulations permitted a reward/penalty of up to 30% of the cost of single coverage in exchange for an employee’s participation in a wellness program.
  • The GINA regulations permitted a reward/penalty up to 30% of the cost of single coverage in exchange for a spouse’s participation in a wellness program (for a total reward of up to 60% of the cost of single coverage).

Given this late-in-the-year change, what does this mean for employer’s wellness programs in 2019? We believe that things will remain status quo for the time being. Why? Because the question of whether participation in a wellness program is voluntary for purposes of the ADA and GINA wellness regulations is a grey area that will likely not be addressed until at least June 2019.

The court case that set all of this in motion did not take the position that the 30% reward/penalty level was an inappropriate level to use. Instead, it took the position that the EEOC failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its decision to adopt the 30% levels in both the ADA and GINA wellness regulations.

Since the EEOC was clearly comfortable with the 30% level, it may still try to provide a reasoned explanation in its next round of regulations as to why the 30% number is appropriate. It is not likely that the EEOC will take issue with this approach until new regulations are issued, as long as an employer maintains its wellness program in accordance with the prior safe harbor rules. However, employers should be aware that employees might use the recent regulatory change to claim that their wellness program is not voluntary.

MedBen will continue to monitor this issue and provide updates as information is released. For more information, contact Caroline Fraker, Senior Vice President & CPO at 800-851-0907 or cfraker@medben.com.

12/28/18

  11:17:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 126 words,  
Categories: Announcements, Prescription, Cost savings

2019 Formularies Now Available at MedBen.com

pills

Formulary updates for prescription plans administered by Ventegra and Pharmacy Data Management, Inc. (PDMI) are now available at MedBen.com – simply click on “Plan Sponsors” (for employers) or “Plan Members” (for insureds) and select “Prescription Formularies” from the “Form” drop-down menu.

A formulary defines the copayment tier status of the medicines most commonly prescribed. Tier 1 medicines require the lowest member copayment.

The new formularies become effective January 1, 2019. As always, plan administrators with questions about the formularies can contact their Group Service Representative, while plan members can call MedBen Customer Service at (800) 686-8425.

Ventegra

PDMI

MedBen clients who use drug administrators other than Ventegra or PDMI can typically find formulary information on that company's website.

12/26/18

  07:25:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 366 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Germ Warfare: The Importance of Handwashing

washing hands

For most of us, staying well isn’t complicated. Simple lifestyle choices can go a long way toward our better health... and one of the simplest, yet most important, things we can do is wash our hands frequently. And that goes double during the winter months, when the flu is in season.

The importance of handwashing can be summed up in one word: Germs. Human and animal feces are prime sources of the germs that carry Salmonella, E. coli and norovirus, which cause diarrhea and can cause respiratory infections. And once the germs are on your hands, you not only risk getting yourself sick, you risk spreading the germs to others.

Hopefully you know that washing your hands after using the bathroom is a must-do, but it’s hardly the only time a good cleaning is in order. Wash before, during, and after preparing food, as well as before you eat. If you blow your nose, cough or sneeze... wash. Just took out the trash? Wash. Petted a puppy or kitten? Wash. Bottom line, if there’s a risk of getting or spreading germs, then wash those hands pronto!

Soap and running water are the most effective tools for handwashing. Bar soap is okay, but can itself become contaminated, especially if used by multiple people – so liquid soap is a better alternative. Or if you’re going somewhere that soap and water won’t be readily available, bring along an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Full story »

12/16/18

  11:19:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 276 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, MedBen Employees

MedBen Employees Play Santa for Local Children

There's no reason why Santa Claus should have to do all the heavy lifting... which is why MedBen is once again happy to lend St. Nick a helping hand!

For 19 years in a row, MedBen is participating in the Families Helping Families program. Our employees raise funds and purchase presents to ensure that the less privileged children of Licking County (Ohio) share in the giving spirit of the holiday season.

Familes Helping Families gifts

Spearheaded by Licking County Job and Family Services (LCJFS) and coordinated by the Salvation Army, Families Helping Families provides gifts anonymously to more than 600 children in Licking County. Area businesses, churches, schools, clubs, families, and other groups all contribute to the program, which brightens the holidays for many elderly citizens as well.

This year, MedBen employees "adopted" 17 children ranging in age from 3 months old to 11 years, from lists provided through LCJFS as well as House of New Hope, which helps foster children. Each child receives clothing in addition to toys and other items that were on their wish list. MedBen contributes extra funds on top of the employee donations to buy additional gifts.

Families Helping Families is among the many charities and non-profit organizations MedBen has partnered with over the years. We've also been honored to support United Way, Food Pantry Network, Licking County Community Health Clinic, A Call to College, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and the Midland Theatre, to name just a few.

MedBen has called Licking Country home since 1938, and we've pleased to be able to assist the people of our community.

Individuals and groups who are interested in contributing to a future Families Helping Families drive are encouraged to contact LCJFS’s Jamie Spangler at 740-670-8736.

Holiday Hours and Friendly Reminders

wreath

The staff of MedBen wishes you all the best for the holiday season and the new year!

MedBen will be closed on Monday, December 24 and Christmas Day, and reopen at 8:00 a.m. EST on Wednesday, December 26. For the New Year's holiday, we will be open regular hours on Monday, December 31, closed on Tuesday, January 1, and reopen at 8:00 a.m. EST on Wednesday, January 2.

Remember that if you need assistance with your health plan when MedBen is closed, the MedBen Access website is your one-stop customer service center. Be it a question about the status of a claim, benefit coverage specifics, or the cost of a prescription drug, MedBen Access has the information you need any time of the day or night – even on major holidays!

If you don’t already have MedBen Access bookmarked in your browser, the easiest route there is through the MedBen.com home page. Just click on “MedBen Access” (located on the top right corner of the page), type in your user name and password, and you’re in!

Another reminder, specifically for those groups with flexible spending accounts (FSAs): Depending on your plan design, you may need to use any remaining funds by December 31. Fortunately, there are multiple ways in which you can sensibly spend your FSA dollars – to view a list of eligible expenses, visit MedBen.com, click on either the “Plan Sponsors (Employers)” or “Plan Members (Insureds)” button, and select “IRS-Eligible Expenses” from the “Additional Resources” drop-down menu.

Finally... if you haven't gotten your wellness exam this year, please schedule one today!

  11:07:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 218 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Diabetes, Primary care, MedBen WellLiving

Holidays Pose Challenge for Managing Diabetes

glucose reader

Eating healthy during the holidays is hard enough for most people... but for individuals with diabetes, it can be even more difficult. The American Diabetes Association (via HealthDay) offers these tips:

  • Focus on timing. If your meal will be later than usual, eat a snack before to keep your blood sugar where it needs to be.
  • Stay active during the holiday season, to compensate for overeating.
  • Eat healthier versions of holiday foods.
  • Keep portion sizes small.
  • Eat lots of vegetables.

In addition to diet considerations, it's equally important for diabetics to follow their doctor's recommendations for medications or insulin injections and glucose (blood sugar) readings. And if you're overdue for your annual wellness exam, please make a point of scheduling a visit as soon as possible.

MedBen WellLiving places an emphasis on helping your employees reduce their odds of developing Type 2 diabetes. Health plan members who are found to be at risk for the disease based on their claims history receive customized counseling from a RN Health Consultant via our Specialty Care Program.

Through one-on-one coaching, complemented by educational materials and other resources, plan members can reduce their chances of developing diabetes and the complications that accompany it. For more information about Specialty Care through MedBen WellLiving, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at bfargus@medben.com.

12/02/18

  09:29:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 230 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Cholesterol

Cholesterol Guidelines Put Doctor-Patient Relationship First

checkup

New updated cholesterol guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association stress the importance of the doctor-patient relationship to effectively treat high cholesterol. Similarly, MedBen WellLiving promotes a "physician first" approach in the prevention and detection of the condition, which is known to raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The updated guidelines recommend that in addition to monitoring cholesterol levels, doctors consider such factors as family history and higher-risk ethnicity when making treatment recommendations. They also advise patients to discuss certain health conditions that could affect their risk or treatment with their doctor, such as metabolic syndrome and chronic kidney disease.

MedBen WellLiving recommends cholesterol screenings every five years. Through our primary prevention program, we help employer health plans encourage employees to develop and maintain a relationship with their family doctor... a crucial step toward the early detection of high cholesterol and other chronic conditions.

WellLiving also provides annual wellness guidelines for all employees and their dependents, customized for age and gender. Plan members can easily check their compliance with recommended wellness exams and screenings through our MedBen Access online service center.

The "physician first" approach to keeping cholesterol levels in check is just one way MedBen WellLiving helps you to promote a healthier workplace and reduce health care costs. Learn more by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or bfargus@medben.com.

  09:23:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 213 words,  
Categories: News, Hospitals, Cost savings, Reference-based pricing, Medicare, Alternative plan design

New Medicare Pricing Tool Useful to RBP Plans

Medicare Price Lookup

To improve medical cost transparency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a new medical pricing tool for surgical procedures that will also benefit certain reference-based pricing (RBP) plans.

The Procedure Price Lookup tool allows consumers to compare national average prices for outpatient procedures performed in hospital outpatient departments as well as ambulatory surgical centers. Users can search by procedure name or code.

While created as a reference for Medicare patients, this online tool also serves a practical purpose for Medicare RBP plans. By using Medicare pricing as the primary source of claim repricing, employers can establish fair reimbursements for any providers their plan members choose to visit... and members will have a much better idea of potential care costs.

Medicare RBP is just one of the alternative cost-saving strategies now available through MedBen. Our offerings include direct-to-employer contracting, which promotes the use of quality, lower-cost local care by bringing together area businesses and hospitals, and commercial bundled payment services, in which a provider is paid for a complete episode of care.

The best part of Medicare RBP and other MedBen alterative benefit services: reducing costs while maintaining a high standard of care. Learn more about them by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or bfargus@medben.com.

  04:48:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 243 words,  
Categories: Prescription, MedBen Rx, MedBen Rx Advocate, MedBen Rx Alliance, Generic Drugs, Brand-Name Drugs

MedBen Rx Tackles Brand-Name Increases

pills and bill bottle

Modern Healthcare recently highlighted the growing disparity between brand-names and generics in relation to prescription drug spending. A new study finds that while total spending on generic drugs has declined, branded prescription drug spending continues to rise. In 2017, brand-name prescription drugs represented only 17% of total prescriptions filled but made up 79% of total pharmaceutical spending.

While controlling generic drug costs is certainly important - indeed, MedBen generic discount rates continually beat what the big national pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) pass on to employers - for a pharmacy plan to see substantial savings, it is equally essential to rein in brand-name spending. MedBen Rx pharmacy solutions were created with that very goal in mind.

MedBen offers two pharmacy programs, Rx Advocate and Rx Alliance, that while distinctive in many respects, share a common goal: To help employers realize the lowest prices possible on prescription drugs. How do they achieve that goal? Again, both programs follow unique paths... but they start by focusing on a drug's true cost, rather than artificial markups.

Nor do the saving strategies end there. MedBen works with pharmacy benefit professionals dedicated to finding sensible ways to reduce prescription spending. Through formularies, claims analysis, and other cost containment tools, we continually help clients get the biggest benefit for their Rx dollar.

You can get additional details on how the MedBen Rx programs work by visiting our website. You're also welcome to contact our Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or bfargus@medben.com.

11/26/18

  03:57:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 214 words,  
Categories: Announcements, News, Consumer-driven Health Plans, Flexible spending accounts (FSAs)

FSA Contribution Maximum Gets Small Raise in 2019

IRS building

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced the annual inflation adjustment for flexible spending accounts (FSAs) for the 2019 tax year. As has been the case in previous years, contribution limits will see only modest increases or remain unchanged.

The 2019 dollar limitation on voluntary employee salary reductions for contributions to health FSAs is $2,700, up slightly from the current $2,650 maximum. Funds from these accounts can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses, including (but not limited to): deductibles, copays, and coinsurance; insulin, bandages, and other pharmacy items; eye exams and vision expenses; and dental and orthodontic expenses. Health FSA funds can also be used to pay for common over-the counter medications (i.e., aspirin, ibuprofen, and cough syrup), but only if accompanied by a doctor's prescription.

The dependent care FSA maximum annual contribution will hold steady at $5,000 in 2019. These accounts reimburse the employee for employment-related dependent care while the plan participant and spouse work (or look for work), such as payments to a day care center or baby-sitter, or expenses to care for a disabled spouse or other tax dependent.

MedBen clients who would like to increase their Health FSA employee maximum to $2,700, or who have any questions regarding FSA contributions, are welcome to contact Director of Administrative Services Sharon A. Mills at (800) 423-3151, Ext. 438 or smills@medben.com.

11/20/18

  07:54:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 393 words,  
Categories: Wellness

Putting the “Me” in Merry During the Holidays

carrying presents

Between shopping and get-togethers, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can feel like a whirlwind – especially if you fail to make the time to take care of yourself. But just because your calendar is packed is no excuse to fall into bad habits or deny yourself personal time.

First, there’s the matter of holiday eating. In the final weeks of the year, we tend to cut our diets some slack, because a New Year’s resolution will surely turn things around, right? But a better strategy is to enjoy high-fat or sugary foods in moderation. Before heading out to the next holiday party, have a serving of vegetables or other healthy fare so you’re less hungry later.

Maintaining your fitness regimen is equally important. When you’re busier than usual, it’s easy to let your workouts slide a bit. But taking 30 minutes a day for exercise helps to keep off the extra holiday pounds and reduces stress to boot.

Also, pencil in some “me” time to treat yourself in healthy ways. Get a massage, read a book, take a bubble bath, listen to music... whatever works to soothe your mind and body and give you a welcome reprieve from the seasonal merry-go-round. And be sure to get seven or more hours of sleep every night!

One more thing: If you haven’t already got your annual wellness exam yet, please schedule it ASAP. A checkup is not only useful for early detection and prevention of serious conditions, it’s a great opportunity to talk to your doctor about how you’re holding up over the holidays.

Full story »

11/18/18

  10:18:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 244 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription, Pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), Specialty Drugs, MedBen Rx

The Clear Solution to Rx Spending Trends

pills

A New York Times article examines the dramatic rise in U.S. prescription drug costs over the past two decades. American drug spending was once on par with other wealthy countries, but between 1997 and 2007 our drug spending tripled... and took off again in 2013. How come?

There are multiple reasons why drug costs and utilization are skyrocketing, such as the flood of new high-cost specialty drugs and targeted advertising. But as for why other nations spend less than us, the explanation is more straightforward: government price limits.

“Other countries decline to pay for a drug when the price is too high,” said Rachel Sachs, associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “The United States has been unwilling to do this.”

Whether Congress follows a similar path to control drug spending remains to be seen... but rather than wait for government answers, MedBen is finding its own solutions to help clients reduce their pharmacy spend.

Rather than follow the traditional pricing models that the national pharmacy benefits managers profit from, MedBen Rx goes the opposite direction. By taking away the ability to manipulate margin on the ingredient costs, what MedBen Rx pays reflects the drug’s real cost… no artificial markups.

Add in the fact that MedBen returns 100% of manufacturer rebates back to the client, and the answer is clear: MedBen Rx has the right solutions. Get more information by visiting MedBenRx.com or contacting Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or bfargus@medben.com.

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