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Latest news and updates about the Medicare and pharmacy industries.

August 16: Employers Support New Changes as Employee Health Benefit Costs Are Expected to Rise

Posted on in Industry Updates by Amplicare Team

Plus, the latest pharmacy and healthcare news to know this week.

The Story

The cost of worker health benefits are projected to increase by 5% in 2020, according to the National Business Group on Health’s annual survey of almost 150 large employers in the U.S. To address this rising cost, employers are now supporting initiatives such as passing drug price discounts directly to workers and allowing the government to have more authority in controlling healthcare costs through the expansion of Medicare. 

Why It Matters

Managing pharmacy benefits and addressing the high cost of specialty drugs and therapies is a top priority for employers. The survey found that about 20% of large employers plan to move away from their traditional benefit contracts which depend on drugmaker rebates to maintain low premiums in favor of offering discounts directly to their workers at the pharmacy. For some workers, this could mean lower out-of-pocket costs for expensive drugs and for others, increased cost-sharing for premiums. 

The survey also revealed some insight into employer sentiment about expanding Medicare. Over 70% of the employers believed that while Medicare for All would decrease the number of uninsured patients, it would also decrease health innovations that would lower costs. Eighty-one percent also believe that universal coverage would increase taxes. However, over half of the employers surveyed were in favor of expanding Medicare access to people under 65. 

With Open Enrollment only a few months away, the results of the survey show where large employers in the U.S. are headed as they expect to pay more for employee healthcare. Many workers may not see drastic changes in their overall health insurance coverage this fall, but they may notice changes in their pharmacy benefits and new networks that may be more cost-effective in 2020. 

More Healthcare News to Watch

  1. A federal database revealed that 15% of pharmacies purchased nearly half of opioid pills. The Washington Post.
  2. On Wednesday, the FDA approved TB Alliance’s treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis. Reuters.
  3. CMS has decided to finalize a new rule providing Medicare coverage for an FDA-approved gene therapy. Health Payer Intelligence. 
  4. Con artists are targeting Medicare beneficiaries with “free” DNA testing kits. Detroit Free Press. 
  5. Canadian pot company Tilray has begun shipping CBD to the U.S. for NYU researchers to study CBD treatments for alcohol use and PTSD. CNBC.

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