UBP blog

09/09/2009

When it comes to your prescription drugs, don’t let the brand-name labels fool you

That’s  because if you do, you’ll end up paying a lot more money than you have to every time you go to the pharmacy.

 

Did you know that one of out three employees doesn’t realize that generic drugs are equally as effective as their brand-name counterparts?

 

Recent results from a PBM Prescription Solutions and UnitedHealth Group survey  show that many people are  misled to believe that brand-name prescription  drugs have different and superior active ingredients than generics. 

 

However, the only true differences between a brand-name and generic prescription drug is  the label;and the higher price that goes along with it.. 

 

One thing employers can do to help their employee reap cost-savings in a down economy is to educate them on the benefits of using generic prescription drugs. Their generic drugs will have the same effectiveness as brand-name drugs, just a lower co-pay.

 

Stay tuned for more tips on cost-savings in a down economy as our team will keep them coming over the next few weeks.

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08/03/2009

Naturapathic Medicine: The AMA says it might not be safe or effective, should insurance cover it?

More and more Americans are going to naturopathic (i.e. natural and holistic) doctors like acupuncturists and mind-body healers. Yet, so many in the medical community (including the doctors of the AMA) continue to dismiss these doctors saying their treatments don’t work.

Despite what AMA doctors say, an influential group of U.S. Senators (led by Senator Tom Harkin and Barbara Mikulski) are giving naturopathic medicine a chance.

Harkin and Mikulski back an amendment that would bar health insurance carriers from “discriminating” against healthcare providers with licenses issued by their states. This amendment’s goal is to get alternative medicine covered by health plans.

All in favor see cost-savings:

Those who are in favor of this amendment say it could bring huge long-term health care cost-savings—tens of billions to be exact.

Savings could come from the following two things, among others:

  1. More people leaving behind costly prescription drugs in favor of alternative medicine
  2. More people seeing naturopathic doctors who help them make lifestyle changes (i.e. stress reduction, improved diet, vitamins and minerals) and in turn becoming healthier 

Naturopathic doctors do say that you should absolutely use prescription drugs and have surgery when it is medically necessary. However, for things such as neck and back pain, insomnia, head colds, anxiety and stress, there are new (and less costly) alternatives to popping a pill.

With all of this in mind (and what the medical experts say), do you think health insurance should cover both licensed alternative and regular medical treatments?

07/30/2009

Two small steps to cure the big $194 billion price tag of type 2 diabetes

Filed under: Wellness — ubpblogger @ 4:35 pm
Tags: ,

As early as 2007, here’s how much it cost to care for all Americans with type 2 diabetes:

• $116 billion in Direct Costs (i.e. their medical care)

• Approximately $58 billion in Indirect Costs (i.e. disability benefits, money lost through work absences, premature death)

This all adds up to a grand total of $194 billon, or 10% of all healthcare dollars spent in the United States.

Let’s take a look at this issue on an individual level. The medical care for a person with diabetes is twice as expensive as the care for a person without diabetes.

On top of this, 16% of Americans with serious health problems have delayed necessary medical treatments (according to the Kaiser Family Foundation). So, if diabetics are a big part of this 16%, by delaying treatment now they will become more expensive to treat in the future; this is because they will develop major complications if they cut back on disease management efforts.

At a very modest cost, employers can reap substantial long-term cost savings, just by doing a couple of things:

1. Blood pressure monitoring

Blood pressure monitoring is a great preventative measure to help both employees at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and those who have the disease as well.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research has shown that blood pressure control can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with type 2 diabetes 33-50% and lower the risk of eye, kidney and nerve diseases by approximately 33%. Lowering blood pressure also reduces diabetics’ decline in kidney functioning 30-70%.

One value-added service Universal Benefit Plans offers to many clients that could help achieve the above risk reductions is free health screenings. Each year, we have a registered nurse come in and check the blood pressure of all employees among other things.

Would it be helpful if your broker offered free health screenings to your employees as a value-added service?

2. Lifestyle interventions

Lifestyle interventions such as having employees work with fitness trainers and nutrition educators, can reduce diabetes development in high-risk adults by 58% (and an alarming 71% for high-risk adults ages 60 and up).

Reduced diabetes development in high-risk adults is just one of the many things that adding wellness benefits for everyone at your company can accomplish for your employees’ overall health.

As early as 2007 the SHRM’s Benefits Survey Report found that 68% of companies offer wellness benefits. Is your company one of them?

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