Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Health Beat,” a round-up health-related topics.
HARPS FOODS, UAMS CREATE PROGRAM TO TEACH PHARMACISTS TO WORK DIRECTLY WITH PATIENTS
Springdale-based Harps Food Stores and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy have created a training program to teach pharmacists to work more directly with patients to improve their health. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will be trained to work as a team on medication therapy management (MTM), which is medical care provided by pharmacists to ensure medications are helping patients achieve the best possible health from their prescriptions.
The program, called MTM The Future Today, was formalized in October to include training for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. MTM can include reviewing a patient’s medications to make sure there are no unintended interactions and advising patients on any problems they are having with medications. Pharmacists also can instruct patients on taking medications on schedule and give vaccinations. In the first 10 months of 2015, Harps’ pharmacists completed 35 medication reviews with patients. In the last two months of 2015, after the training program, they completed 260, officials said.
MORE THAN 11.5 MILLION PEOPLE SIGNED UP FOR OBAMACARE
A new report released Tuesday (Jan. 10) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that more than 11.5 million people nationwide were signed up for Health Insurance Marketplace coverage as of Dec. 24, 2016, an increase of 286,000 plan selections relative to the comparable period last year. HHS officials said open enrollment continues through Jan. 31, but participants must visit HealthCare.gov by Sunday to ensure coverage starts Feb. 1.
According to HHS, growing demand for Marketplace coverage refutes predictions that 2017 premium changes would lead to sharp declines in enrollment and a so-called “death spiral,” a notion also debunked in a report released this week by the Council of Economic Advisors. In the 39 states using the HealthCare.gov enrollment platform for 2017, more than 8.7 million people signed up for coverage. More than 8 in 10 individuals – 9.3 million people – who are signed up for 2017 plans through the Marketplace will receive advance premium tax credits. Among the 7.2 million HealthCare.gov consumers who will receive tax credits, tax credits will reduce premiums by an average of $386 per month, or $4,600 per year. Read the report and see state level tables here.
NEARLY THREE-QUARTERS OF U.S. EMPLOYEES WANT CUSTOMIZED BENEFITS PACKAGE, STUDY SAYS
A recent study by Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA) found that 73% of U.S. employees across all age groups would like the ability to customize their workplace benefits to suit their individual needs. This strategy, often called ‘benefits wallet,’ gives each employee a certain amount of money annually to allocate toward the benefits they want.
The LIMRA study asked workers to rank the importance of each benefit and how they would allocate hypothetical dollars across those benefits. The study found that only half of workers are satisfied with their current employer benefits. Married workers are more satisfied than non-married workers (55% vs. 45%) and workers who use a financial advisor are more likely to be satisfied with their benefits (62% vs. 46%).
According to the LIMRA findings, employees with higher household incomes were more likely to be satisfied with their benefits. Lower-income workers are less likely to be full-time employees and are less likely to have generous benefits available to them.