A study of nearly 700 individuals with coronary artery disease has revealed that hearts in men and women react differently to a temporary reduction in blood flow to heart muscles, a common symptom caused by stress. While some men may experience an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, making their heart work harder, about 1 in 5 women experienced constriction in their smaller blood vessels, which can cause more serious heart complications. American Heart Association representatives recommend physical exercise as a way to manage mental stress. Exercise will make blood vessels dilate, counteracting the constriction seen by some of the women who participated in the study. Regular exercise, like a daily walk or run, can go a long way in helping us cope with mental stress.
Thanks to a new system approved recently by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Medicare patients with diabetes are able to monitor their glucose levels without sticking their fingers. The first-of-its-kind system reads glucose levels through a sensor placed on the back of the upper arm. Sensors, which can be worn for 10 days, are priced at $36 while a handheld reader, placed over the sensor to obtain real-time readings, retails for about $70.
Even though on-site clinics are not revolutionary, the announcement by Apple seems to have captured more attention because of the excitement generated by newsmakers Berkshire Hathaway, JP Morgan Chase and Amazon. Apple, currently working to add medical personnel, expects the clinics to be available at their Cupertino, California headquarters this Spring.
According to preliminary government data, U.S. deaths involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids fueled a 21% jump in annual drug overdose deaths during 2017. The increase from 9,945 opioid deaths in 2016 to 20,145 during 2017 reflected the sharpest one-year increase since the U.S. began experiencing a widespread opioid addiction. CDC data shows that deaths involving heroin and prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, are also increasing.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) reports that while the number of mid-sized businesses self-funding their health benefits actually declined slightly during 2015 and 2016, the percentage of smaller employer groups, those with less than 100 employees, increased from 14.2% to 17.4%.
In at least one big city, a major carrier is providing 100% coverage to public employees for MRIs, CT Scans and other imaging services only when free-standing, non-hospital based facilities are used. What do you know? Independent TPAs have been helping self-funded health plans do things like this for years.
Too many people have long considered rising health care costs to be a condition we simply must live with. Fact is there are alternatives, most of which can only be implemented when the plan’s best interests are first and foremost.
Detailed Reporting Needed
In contrast to a fully-insured plan or self-funding with a carrier-owned ASO, using an independent TPA enables the plan to make informed decisions based on detailed reporting – reporting that the plan owns.
There is no secret to controlling plan costs. It requires discipline and the tools to monitor individual parts of the plan, such as prescription drugs, imaging, chronic disease management and more. Analyzing expenditures such as these can yield huge savings over the course of a year, but only when your administrator is free of carrier or provider affiliations. Having checks and balances in place can make all the difference.
The 1993 federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualifying employees. While workers at some companies are able to cover a portion of their pay during their leave, the vast majority do so by using their employers’ short-term disability insurance.
While federal budget proposals discussed earlier this year included funding for six weeks of paid leave for new mothers and fathers, and a proposal in the House has endorsed “workflex” options, newly passed Tax Reform legislation did not address the issue. With first-daughter Ivanka Trump promoting paid family leave throughout the 2016 campaign, and mid-term elections approaching, we are sure to hear more about this later in the year.