Insurance news
When Medicaid Pays Docs More, Patients See Docs More
Saturday, March 14, 2015 01:33 PM

It is about the money.  Increasing Medicaid reimbursements to primary care providers improved appointment availability for those on Medicaid without leading to longer waiting times.  Researchers found that appointment availability for those on Medicaid increased from 58.7%, before Medicaid reimbursements, to 66.4% during the summer of 2014 when reimbursements were raised.

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Many Insurers Don't Cover Weight-Loss Drugs
Saturday, March 14, 2015 11:37 AM

From the “What goes around, comes around” department comes this lament from the medical/pharmaceutical industry: In December, the FDA approved a new anti-obesity drug, the fourth prescription drug the agency has given the green light to fight obesity since 2012. But even though two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese there's a good chance their insurer won't cover anti-obesity drugs.

The health benefits of using anti-obesity drugs to lose weight may not be immediately apparent. "Most health plans will cover things that have an immediate impact in that plan year," says Dr. Steve Miller, the chief medical officer at Express Scripts, which manages the prescription drug benefits for thousands of companies.

Miller estimates that about a third of companies don't cover anti-obesity drugs at all, a third cover all FDA-approved weight-loss drugs, and a third cover approved drugs, but with restrictions to limit their use. The Medicare prescription drug program specifically excludes coverage of anti-obesity drugs.

As the link between obesity and increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other serious medical problems has become clearer, prescription drugs are seen as an opportunity. Obesity accounts for 21% of annual medical costs in the U.S. or $190 billion, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Health Economics.  In 2013, the American Medical Association officially recognized obesity as a disease.

Many people who take an anti-obesity drug will remain on it for the rest of their lives. That gives insurers pause, says Miller.  The potential cost to insurers could be enormous, he says.

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Seventy-five Percent of Doctors Holding Off on ICD-10
Friday, January 30, 2015 10:48 PM

Physician practices are pushing back ICD-10 preparations, with only twenty-five percent of surveyed doctors saying their practice will have started the transition work by year’s end.  A survey of 201 members of QuantiaMD’s online physician community during the last two weeks and found that seventy-five percent of respondents are sitting tight, at least for now.

Whereas twenty-five percent said that they have either already started ICD-10 work or will do so by year’s end, the largest group of respondents, thirty-three percent, won't begin before the end of 2015’s first quarter. Roughly twenty percent will hold off until the second quarter.  Most surprising is the twenty-two percent who plan to push the October 1 deadline in earnest by waiting until the third quarter.

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Current Flu Vaccine Half as Effective as Previous Years
Friday, January 30, 2015 10:43 PM

People receiving this year's seasonal influenza vaccine are twenty-three percent less likely to seek medical treatment for flu-type symptoms relative to unvaccinated individuals, according to an interim CDC estimate based on reports submitted so far for the current season.  That's less than half the "vaccine effectiveness" calculated for the vaccines deployed in recent seasons.  But the new estimate, published online in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, is the first time the agency has put a number to the reduced effectiveness.

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BBB Advice on Making 2015 a Debt-free Year
Friday, January 30, 2015 10:39 PM
Did you start the new year with a mountain of debt? You’re not alone. Many people face a financial crisis some time in their lives. Whether the crisis is caused by personal or family illness, the loss of a job, or overspending, it can seem overwhelming, but often you can overcome it. Your financial situation doesn’t have to go from bad to worse. Make this year a year to reduce your debt!
If you or someone you know is in debt, your Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offer five tips to help you get started this new year.
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