A survey of 500 HSA enrollees finds that 82 percent are satisfied with their accounts and 91 percent believe such accounts should remain an option for Americans. More than 80 percent of respondents cite their ability to save for future health care expenses as the primary reason for opening and depositing money into their HSAs. The survey was conducted by OptumHealth, a health and wellness company that is part of the UnitedHealth Group.... Americans are still having trouble keeping their diabetes under control, according to the 2008 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality National Healthcare Disparities Report. Only slightly more than half of the 18 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes had their blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure under optimum control. Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with $116 billion spent on medical care for people with the disease. What’s scarier is that the report also says another 6 million Americans may have diabetes and don’t know it.... Employers now foresee an increase of 7.4 percent in health benefit costs in 2009. Health benefit costs had risen by about 6 percent annually for four consecutive years and employers had expected a similar increase for 2009, according to a study conducted by Mercer. Nearly half of all respondents say that they will be making more cost-saving changes than usual to their current health plans because of the economic downturn and that they don’t see “simple cost shifting as the silver bullet this time around,” says Linda Havlin, a consultant in Mercer’s health and benefits business. The survey reports that 22 percent of employers are considering a consumer-directed health plan.
House Republicans come out with their ACA alternative. A continuous coverage surcharge replaces the individual mandate. But where’s the CBO score?
The biosimilar segment of the pharmaceutical industry is on fire. Some 700 biosimilars are at some stage of development, and more than 660 companies are involved in some way in the biosimilars land rush. Still, only a handful may get on the market in the next few years.
No one knows how much of an effect biosimilars will have on oncology expenditures. Pricing and market share are in a large, opaque “to be determined” cloud. But there’s certainly potential for a major impact that could lower oncology expenditures by millions, if not billions.
The future of biosimilars in this country is nothing if not uncertain. Most immediately, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case that will determine the timing of the 180-day waiting period before a biosimilar can go on the market. But there are larger and longer-term issues at play as well.
While coupons help individual consumers, they are also having a major impact on the insurance industry and anyone responsible for paying health care bills. Insurers and pharmacy benefit managers complain that they foil formularies and other pricing strategies designed to steer consumers to less-expensive drugs.
The hard truth is that telehealth’s future—its size, its contours—will depend a lot on what payers will be willing to pay for. Currently, commercial plans cover only a limited number of services. In addition, research suggests that there may be quality and utilization problems.
Insurers should consider covering new drug-delivery devices that can improve outcomes while lowering disease-specific pharmacy and long-term overall health care costs. Managing these devices in the pharmacy benefit will consolidate volume-based purchasing and capitalize on PBM strategies for improving adherence.
Basaglar is coming on the scene during tumultuous times for insulin products. Manufacturers are under attack for price hikes. There are allegations of backroom rebate deals. And a class-action lawsuit has been brought on behalf of uninsured patients, charging insulin makers with setting artificially high prices.
Evaluating the quality of telemedicine care is about as easy as evaluating the quality of health care, period, and researchers are still ironing out the methodological kinks. That may be one reason research results are all over the place. This article involved reviewing nine such studies, and the findings are a mixed bag.
The results can be tragic. Patients with addictions are unlikely to wait the hours or days it takes health insurers to approve the medications they need. Insurers are changing their practices, but not without some outside pressure.