As COVID-19 has made medical office visits challenging, CDC has recommended digital diabetes care supported by connected continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems. According to CDC, when remote monitoring is combined with proper medication adherence and personalized coaching, employees with diabetes are able to receive the constant, long-term oversight needed to maintain a higher quality lifestyle.
According to a video conferencing company, employees working remotely have been logging about one extra day a week as the lines between work and home continue to blur. While some have saved commuting time, others are simply extending their workday. Despite some challenges, many people are enjoying greater flexibility and feeling just as productive when working remotely.
You don’t have to dig very deep to discover higher stress levels due to the pandemic. To combat the problem, many companies are taking creative steps to help employees relax. While some are providing a free day each quarter, others are doing it monthly. From “you days” to “disconnect and recharge” days, these are must-take days where everyone is free to enjoy a break without feeling guilty or worrying about what they may be missing.
As a health plan sponsor or HR professional, you’ve no doubt witnessed the introduction of new tools or applications intended to help plan members become better healthcare consumers. Unfortunately, these efforts often fall a little short of expectations. After decades in self-funded health plan administration, we can say that while these programs were well designed, the education associated with them was not.
Today, a health plan cannot achieve company objectives unless members buy into the utilization strategies. What can a plan do to engage members in ways that will make a difference? Education and incentives can be a winning formula – here are a few ideas.
- From coping with Covid-19 to open enrollment, employers were forced to communicate differently in 2020. Company-wide gatherings and annual health fairs were replaced by more frequent zoom conferences and digital events. As a result, employers trimmed content and focused on critical topics. While personal meetings will likely return as the fear of gathering subsides, the lessons learned in the past 10 months will improve employee education in the future.
- Regardless of how your plan chooses to incentivize members, rewards must be tied to member engagement. One option is to share plan savings with members who lower claim costs by choosing high quality, low-cost providers. This often requires that the plan negotiate in advance with hospitals or centers of excellence that are efficient for certain procedures. Giving a member a percentage of the savings realized by the plan can go a long way to boost overall engagement.
- Some plans reward members who consult with HR before selecting a healthcare provider for an elective procedure. This helps members use their benefits to their best advantage and controls overall plan costs.
Regardless of how you proceed, it’s important to realize that education requires time to plan and resources to execute. Whether you choose virtual lunch and learns, monthly podcasts by HR or something different altogether, it takes repetition to make a positive difference.
As a way to give small businesses the opportunity to offer their employees a workplace-based retirement savings option that is easy and inexpensive to maintain, the Department of Labor moved to establish rules for Pooled Employer Plans or PEP. According to the law, pooled plan providers will need to register with the Labor and Treasury secretaries in advance and once registered, can begin operating PEPs as early as January 1, 2021. The goal for the option, which was made possible by the Secure Act of 2019, is to make saving for retirement cost-effective for more employees throughout the U.S.
If 2020 wasn’t everyone’s most stressful year, it has to rank among the top for sure. From hardship created by the Coronavirus to unrest in our biggest cities, virtually everyone’s routines have been disrupted. Whether you’re working from home or transitioning back to the office, here are some steps you can take to improve your mental health.
Mini-Meditation: Even 5 minutes of meditation can help erase negative thoughts and improve your attitude. The people around you will benefit from your improved mood too. If you want something to clear the mind, there are plenty of apps you can access with your mobile device.
Try Tangibles: Meetings and projects will always be there, so why not designate one 10 to 15 minute time slot to turn off your digital devices and do something different. Write a note or journal entry, make notes on a new project or pick up the phone and call a friend or family member just to say hello.
Celebrate Success: Whether you take a few minutes to recognize an accomplishment of your own or congratulate a co-worker on a recent achievement, make “bravos” a small part of your week. Celebrating or sharing our accomplishments can go a long way, especially in challenging times.
In an effort to revive an important promise made to the American people prior to his election in 2016, President Trump recently signed 3 executive orders aimed at bringing the cost of prescription drugs more in line with what consumers in other countries pay. One order, directed at Medicare Part D plans, would require that PBMs pass discounts or manufacturer’s rebates directly to consumers rather than to their health plans.
A second order would permit individuals to import lower cost drugs from other countries, including Canada, and re-import insulin. The third order is intended to provide uninsured or underinsured individuals with life-saving medications such as insulin and epinephrine. It is doubtful that these executive orders will yield any immediate relief to consumers since legislative bodies and federal agencies will need to follow government protocols in order to put the orders into practice.
According to the 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, the United States ranks 35th among 169 recognized by the World Health Organization. This was one position lower than the U.S. earned in 2017. Spain surpassed Italy to become the world’s healthiest country and four other European nations ranked in the top 10. While Japan was the healthiest Asian nation, China dropped from 51 in 2017 to 53 in the 2019 rankings. Based on data provided by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Population Division, the index evaluates health factors and risks including behavioral concerns, environmental characteristics and more.
When you consider that laws governing travel and social distancing vary from state to state, with a couple having no such laws at all, determining how your organization will regulate and discipline off-duty conduct is very challenging. And when an employee travels to another state that has different laws, which take precedence? Some experts have compared this debate to employer’s efforts to regulate employee use of social media, but it seems that how you regulate social media activity is much different than carrying out your responsibility to keep employees and working conditions safe during a public health emergency.
Given the fact that states have established their own guidelines, an example of an employee who traveled out of state to participate in a large public gathering can present a big challenge. While one employer might decide to quarantine the employee upon return because the gathering violates laws where the person lives and works, another might prefer to act in accordance with a less restrictive law that exists in the state where the gathering took place. Given the complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic, many will likely look beyond the laws and act in a manner consistent with their duty to keep their workplace safe for all employees.
One thing most employers and attorneys seem to agree on is that like so many employment issues, determining an appropriate course of action in matters such as these often comes down to whether or not your organization has a policy in place and how that policy has been communicated to employees.
Guidance recently released by the FDA outlining conditions for approving a Covid-19 vaccine includes a 50 percent benchmark, meaning that any vaccine must be at least 50 percent more effective than a placebo in preventing the disease. This is the same benchmark used annually to approve flu vaccines. In the announcement, Commissioner Stephen Hahn told a Senate panel that the FDA would not approve a vaccine for the general public without clinical evidence that it is both safe and effective.
In accordance with established FDA guidelines, an emergency authorization can move much quicker than a typical full approval, but would still require the vaccine maker to show through clinical studies that the vaccine produced lower levels of disease. Several clinical studies are underway, with one manufacturer having just initiated clinical testing by 60,000 adults.