A 2.3% tax on medical devices sold in the US -- established to help pay for the Affordable Care Act -- is set to go back into effect in January, after a two-year moratorium, though many in the industry are advocating for another suspension or full repeal of the tax, saying it will hurt employment, health care prices and innovation. A proposal to repeal the tax was tied to the unsuccessful effort to unravel the ACA, so any effort to forestall its implementation would now require new action by Congress.
Ahead of Affordable Care Act open enrollment, some markets are looking better than expected, with insurers working with states to ensure counties lacking plans have options for 2018. However, some state officials say they are uneasy as uncertainty reigns, many counties have just one insurer selling plans, and additional insurers may pull out of markets as risk becomes untenable.
Covered California is giving health insurers until Sept. 30 to add a surcharge of around 12.4% to silver health plans as part of efforts to stabilize the individual market, and the exchange is putting additional money toward marketing and outreach. Covered California has also modified contracts to allow health plans with unexpected losses due to federal policy changes to seek state aid from 2019 to 2021, while requiring those that receive unexpected profits to account for those earnings in future rates.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners suggested that states be given full authority to review health insurance premiums, set coverage requirements, set up high-risk pools and reinsurance programs, and allow the sale of plans that do not meet Affordable Care Act standards.
Covered California, the state's Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange, will allow carriers that incur losses next year due to federal policies and market uncertainty to raise premiums through 2021, require insurers that reap unexpected profits in 2018 due to changes in federal policies to reduce premiums, and will invest additional funds in marketing and outreach. Exchange officials are delaying until Sept. 30 implementation of a 12.4% surcharge on silver-tier plans as the state awaits federal guidance on the continuation of cost-sharing subsidies.
The Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment urged the CMS to abandon a proposal to reimburse hospitals 22.5% less than the average sales price for drugs bought through the 340B program.
The UK's National Institute of Healthcare and Excellence said Pfizer's drug for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Besponsa, is not cost-effective. Pfizer will challenge the ruling on the drug, which has been approved by the FDA and European Medicines Agency.
Employees who are tired can make costly mistakes, so companies are embracing the idea of naps during the work day, adjusting schedules, and educating people on the importance of a good night's sleep. Companies can make relaxation a part of their corporate culture by adding napping areas and encouraging people to take a break, even if it is only for a few minutes.
Companies can benefit from establishing an employee assistance program that offers onsite behavioral health care services, writes Alliant Employee Benefits executive Tom Greene. He said onsite care could increase use of services, provide employees with personalized programs, and give companies insights into organizational performance and supervisory concerns.
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