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17Aug, 2016

One in six Obamacare customers could lose plans

By Paige Winfield Cunningham, Robert King • 8/17/16 12:01 AM | The Washington Examiner

The number of Americans losing their Obamacare plans due to insurer exits is starting to add up.

Aetna is the latest insurer to announce it is pulling out of most of the insurance marketplaces set up under President Obama’s healthcare law. UnitedHealthcare and Humana both said earlier this year they will withdraw from most of the exchanges due to higher-than-expected losses.

Individually, none of the insurers holds a major market share in the Obamacare exchanges. But the cumulative effect of all three pulling back could be more serious, hurting […]

17Aug, 2016

Why Some Life Insurance Premiums Are Skyrocketing

Like clockwork, Sara and James Cook paid $452 a month for life insurance. That is, until a letter arrived last year telling the elderly Georgia couple the premiums on the policy they’d had for 25 years were rising sharply.

They held a universal life policy, a popular type that includes an investment account that accumulates cash when interest rates are high. But with rates at historic lows, it was being drained — quickly.

When the Cooks’ daughter, Jo Ann Sparks, asked an expert to explain her options, she recalls: “He […]

16Aug, 2016

Aetna bows out of ACA exchange in Pa.

By Lenay Ruhl, August 16, 2016 at 10:52 AM | CPBJ

(Photo / Thinkstock)

Aetna said this week that it is leaving the Affordable Care Act marketplace in Pennsylvania to help balance its financial losses from selling insurance plans on the exchange.

The Connecticut-based insurer will no longer sell individual health insurance plans through Pennsylvania’s ACA exchange, and coverage will not be available for 2017. Coverage for 2016 will not be affected, according to Aetna spokesperson Walt Cherniak.

Aetna will continue to offer health plans in the commonwealth outside of the exchange, Cherniak said.

Overall, Aetna is dropping out of ACA exchanges in 11 of […]

11Aug, 2016

This surprising thing has become the biggest driver of health insurance costs for companies

Tina Reed covers health care. | Aug 10, 2016, 7:19am CDT | The Memphis Business Journal
Skyrocketing specialty drug costs — like those for new-generation hepatitis C drugs that cost upward of $84,000 per treatment— are the No. 1 driver of health care expenses among large employers, according to an annual National Business Group on Health survey released Tuesday.
While specialty drugs are used by less than 4 percent of the population, 31 percent of employers surveyed by the Washington-based group indicated they are the top concern for driving their health care costs.
“This is surprising because specialty drugs weren’t even considered among […]

10Aug, 2016

Big Companies Expect Moderate Increases In 2017 Employee Health Care Costs

By Jay Hancock | August 9, 2016 | KHN.org

Big employers expect health costs to continue rising by about 6 percent in 2017, a moderate increase compared with historical trends that nevertheless far outpaces growth in the economy, two new surveys show.

“These cost increases, while stable, are both unsustainable and unacceptable,” said Brian Marcotte, CEO of the National Business Group on Health, a coalition of very large employers that got responses from 133 companies.

Employers are changing tactics to address the trend, slowing the shift to worker cost sharing and instead offering video or telephone links to doctors, scrutinizing specialty-drug costs and steering patients […]

4Aug, 2016

Aetna is notifying some doctors about their drug-dispensing habits

By Lenny Bernstein | August 3 at 3:57 PM | The Washington Post

(Toby Talbot/AP)
Many experts say the prescription painkiller epidemic started when physicians began over-prescribing powerful opioid medications, a well-meaning attempt to more aggressively treat patients’ pain. With addiction to those pills at crisis levels, they argue, a good part of the solution would be for doctors to rein in use of the drugs.

The giant health insurer Aetna is now actively encouraging change. Using the vast amount of data it collects from insurance claims by pharmacies, it has begun contacting doctors whose prescribing habits are far outside the norm.

“You […]

2Aug, 2016

Opioid-related insurance claims rose more than 3,000 percent 2007 to 2014

Dan Mangan | CNBC.com

Health insurance claims for people hooked on prescription painkillers and heroin skyrocketed as the number of Americans who fatally overdosed on those opioids hit record highs, a new analysis reveals.

The number of private health insurance claims related to opioid dependence diagnosis soared by 3,204 percent from 2007 to 2014, the analysis found.

The same analysis by Fair Health also found other disturbingly sharp spikes upward in the number of private insurance claims related to opioid abuse, drug dependence by pregnant women and heroin overdoses since 2011.

“The United States is in the midst of an epidemic of opioid dependence, abuse […]

2Aug, 2016

Large employers stick with employee health plans, small businesses another story

Aug 01, 2016 | By Dan Cook | benefitspro.com

A new survey from the Employee Benefits Research Institute outlines what employers are doing when it comes to health benefits packages for their employees. (Photo: iStock)

Large employers continue to believe in the value of sponsored health benefits for employees, despite the options available to them under the Affordable Care Act. But small employers are increasingly choosing to pull out of the health benefits business.

That’s what a survey from the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) found when it examined the percentage of employers offering health insurance from 2008 to 2015. Using data from the Medical […]

29Jul, 2016

Curbing chronic disease and paying for outcomes and value

By Reed Smith, July 25 2016 | benefitspro.com

In my last article, I talked about how the unsustainability in health care inflation must be addressed with transformational thinking.  What we truly need is revolutionary thinking.  A revolution in the health care industry is the only way to bend the trend, improve health and create a competitive advantage for employers who embrace it.  To accomplish this goal, these four challenges must be turned into strengths:

Curbing chronic disease
Paying for outcomes and value
Leveraging mobile health technology
Activating the consumer

In this post, I am focusing on curbing chronic disease and paying for outcomes and value.  Check […]

28Jul, 2016

Pa. health insurers defend requests for higher premiums

By Lenay Ruhl, July 27, 2016 at 2:30 PM | CPBJ

(Photo / Thinkstock)

In a hearing convened by state regulators, health insurers in Pennsylvania defended their requests to raise insurance costs in 2017 to make up for losses on plans offered under the Affordable Care Act.

Insurance companies say they are losing money on individual health plan options they sell through the ACA’s insurance marketplace, known as the exchange.

But the Pennsylvania Insurance Department worried that people won’t be able to afford these safety-net health plans next year if insurers get their way.

At the department’s hearing today in Harrisburg, insurers from across the […]