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05/15/19

  07:37:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 129 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Heart, Preventive care, MedBen Employees, MedBen WellLiving

MedBen Teams Up to Battle Heart Disease

HeartChase Team MedBen

For the fourth consecutive year, MedBen was well-represented at the Licking County (OH) HeartChase, sponsored by the American Heart Association (AHA). On May 4, area organizations met in the Newark town square to promote healthy hearts, raise funds to combat heart disease, and get a little exercise by performing team activities.

Event participants have so far raised nearly $120,000 to help reduce heart disease-related deaths and improve the cardiovascular health of Americans.

Heart disease prevention is an important aspect of the MedBen WellLiving program, which promotes healthy habits through preventive care and disease management... so we're pleased to do our part for better health!

Learn more about how your organization can have a good time for a good cause in your community by visiting the HeartChase page at the AHA website.

05/14/19

  03:04:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 341 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Hypertension, Preventive care, Specialty Care

Blood Pressure, By the Numbers

walking

If you have high blood pressure (also called hypertension), you’re hardly alone out there. About 1 in 3 U.S. adults share your condition.

And just because you don’t “feel” like you have high blood pressure doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. The condition is called the “silent killer” for a reason – many people who have it don’t even know it. The only way to be sure is to check your blood pressure regularly.

When you see your family doctor for your annual wellness exam, the visit typically begins with a blood pressure reading. Ideal blood pressure is below 120/80, while high blood pressure is above 140/90. The two respective numbers represent pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats (systolic) and when your heart rests (diastolic).

Why is controlling your blood pressure a big deal? By doing so, you reduce your risk of health disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States. Reducing pressure on your arteries also lowers your odds of aneurysms, dementia and cognitive impairment. So merely hoping for the best is not a wise strategy.

If you are at risk for high blood pressure, MedBen WellLiving can help. We provide personalized guidance from RN Health Consultants to assist you in bringing your blood pressure numbers back down to normal.

Full story »

05/06/19

Case Study: Direct Contracting Further Lowers Client Costs

stethoscope and 100 dollar bills

MedBen facilitates direct-to-employer contracting, bringing together employers and providers in plans that promote regional care. Recently, a client looking for cost reduction opportunities saw the benefits first-hand.

A manufacturer with a traditional PPO plan already had cost controls in place through MedBen and lower-than-average medical costs... but asked us to suggest ways to reduce their costs even further without cutting care.

Working with MedBen, the client signed direct contracts with two hospitals in areas with a high employee presence. Also, we helped the client set up a wrap network with incentives to use local care.

In the first year following direct hospital contracting, the client saw an 18% reduction in their medical spending. Incentives and access to lower-cost care increased area hospital utilization. For the employees, it translated to reduced out-of-pocket costs.

MedBen clients who have alternative coverages in place are seeing healthier workplaces and cost savings. If you'd like to hear additional success stories, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or bfargus@medben.com.

05/05/19

  11:52:00 am, by MedBen5   , 183 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Cost savings, MedBen Rx, MedBen Rx Advocate, MedBen Rx Alliance

MedBen Clients Reduced Costs Nearly 3% Using Rx Solutions

pharmacist measuring pills

In an era where employer pharmacy plans routinely face annual double-digit cost increases, MedBen clients are seeing things differently.

Employers who utilized MedBen pharmacy solutions in their 2018 plans realized an average 2.7% decrease in per-member spending from 2017. The cost reductions coincide with last year’s emergence of MedBen Rx’s innovative programs to help clients lower their pharmacy spending.

MedBen Rx offers two unique ways to help employers avoid the wholesale price “margin manipulation” inherent in traditional pharmacy plans: Rx Advocate, which bases client drug costs on the prices the pharmacy pays plus a reasonable dispensing fee; and Rx Alliance, which builds partnerships between hospitals, pharmacies and qualified organizations to offer the lowest drug prices possible.

Pharmacy case studies and cost reduction strategies are regularly discussed at MedBen University events, so if you’ve recently received an invite to an upcoming roundtable, we encourage you to attend and discover for yourself how MedBen Rx can help your business share in the savings.

Additionally, MedBen has dedicated an entire website to its pharmacy solutions: MedBenRx.com. There, you’ll find program descriptions, an Rx Report Blog, and an FAQ page.

05/03/19

  05:52:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 232 words,  
Categories: Health Care Reform, Third party administration, Compliance, Self-funding, Transparency, Billing, Government

Fraker, SPBA Members Discuss Surprise Billings in D.C.

Caroline Fraker

MedBen Senior Vice President Caroline Fraker visited Washington, D.C. with fellow members of the Society of Professional Benefit Administrators (SPBA) Board of Directors on April 23, to speak with House Committee on Education and Labor officials on the subject of "surprise billing."

"We spoke with staffers of both Democrat and Republican representatives," Fraker said. "There's a bipartisan consensus to find a solution to people getting unexpected medical bills."

Surprise billing often takes the form of undisclosed out-of-network fees, such as a bill from a non-network anesthesiologist performing in an in-network hospital. Both political parties are calling for greater transparency in hospital pricing practices.

Fraker noted the committee is considering various ideas, including arbitration for surprise bills over a certain dollar amount. "Big mistake,” she said. “Arbitration takes time and causes backlogs."

One proposal Fraker thinks does have potential is requiring that any physician performing a service in an in-network hospital must agree to bill per the network contract. “We agreed it makes practical sense that a provider working in a network facility be paid as a member of that network,” she said.

The SPBA serves as a non-political resource to help legislators and other officials make informed decisions about self-funding matters. Fraker, a 30-plus year veteran of employee benefits, joined the SPBA Board in 2015.

MedBen clients who would like to discuss health care price transparency are welcome to contact Fraker at 800-851-0907 or cfraker@medben.com.

05/02/19

  04:25:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 177 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Heart, Mental Health, MedBen WellLiving

"Family Doctor First" Benefits Physical and Mental Wellness

doctor-patient chat

Millions of Americans are feeling pretty stressed these days, and it's not doing their hearts any good. In a worldwide Gallup poll, about 55% of U.S. respondents said they'd felt stress "a lot of the day" before… and a separate analysis found that a person with a stress disorder was 37% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those without the disorder.

Studies like these illustrate the close bond between mind and body, and illustrate why MedBen WellLiving emphasizes "family doctor first." When the patient builds a professional relationship with their primary care physician, they often feel more open to discuss stressful feelings.

In turn, if the physician detects the onset of heart disease, they're better situated to talk to the patient about its causes. Or if specialist care is required, a doctor that knows the patient can direct them to someone who best matches their personality and needs.

MedBen WellLiving helps your health plan promote the total benefits of the doctor-patient relationship. Get more information by contacting Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at 888-627-8683 or bfargus@medben.com.

04/24/19

  03:57:00 pm, by MedBen5   , 360 words,  
Categories: Wellness, Heart, Hypertension, Preventive care, Mental Health

Just Relax, Already!

reclining

It’s easy to say, “Hey, don’t stress out.” But if you tend to dwell on the usual causes of anxiety – work, relationships, finances and so on – finding a path to relaxation can seem like a formidable challenge. So how to go about it?

First of all, it can be tough to relax if you’re not fully rested. For most adults, 7-8 hours of sleep a night is essential. Follow a set sleep and wake schedule, minimizing sound and light in your bedroom (i.e., no TV). For best results, avoid caffeine and other stimulants before bedtime.

Hobbies are a proven relaxer, be they physical (gardening, painting) or more cerebral (reading, music). Simple actions like a hug or petting a dog release serotonin, a feel-good hormone. Oh, and that old saw about laughter being the best medicine? As a stress reliever, few things beat a good chuckle.

Exercise is another way to better relaxation... and not just jogging or yoga, either. Breathing exercises lower stress by reducing muscle tension and feeding oxygen to your body. In a seated position away from distractions, breathe slowly and deeply through the nose to a count of five, then exhale out of the mouth to a count of six. Repeat for two minutes or more.

Finally, if you find you can’t seem to relax not matter what you do, make an appointment with your family doctor to discuss healthy and effective ways to put your mind and body at ease.

SOURCES: ACS Distance Education, Huffington Post, Mental Health America

Full story »

04/21/19

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!

04/20/19

  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!

04/17/19

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

Statins Alone No Guarantee of Lower Cholesterol

checkup

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 bfargus@medben.com.

04/15/19

  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 bfargus@medben.com.

04/07/19

  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.

04/06/19

  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 bfargus@medben.com or 888-627-8683.

04/05/19

  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.

04/04/19

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

Federal Court Strikes Down Association Health Plan Rule

gavel

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."

04/03/19

  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

Capitol-Caduceus-bills

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 cfraker@medben.com.

03/24/19

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

Regular Dental Checkups Can Help Spot Diseases

dentist

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 bfargus@medben.com.

03/23/19

  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

pills

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 bfargus@medben.com.

03/22/19

  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 MedBen.com.

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 medben@medben.com. 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.

03/21/19

  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.

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