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Navigating the rising tide of drug costs: Effective strategies for employers

The increasing cost of prescription drugs in the United States is a major burden on employers and employees alike. With expenditures expected to reach $355 billion by 2022 and the relentless upward trend showing no signs of abating, now is the time for employers to critically assess their drug cost-saving options.   The Benefits Toolkit, Lowering Drug Costs offers insight into generic drugs, cost-saving programs, saving on specialty drugs and more. Dive in to learn how your organization can mitigate the impact of escalating pharmaceutical expenses on its bottom line and help employees save. For more information about employee benefits,our services and products , contact HANYS Benefit Services by  email  or call 800.388.1963. This Benefits Toolkit is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2017, 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Benefits Insights - Prescription Drug Pricing Trends

As prescription drug costs continue to increase, it’s important that employers understand the trends behind that rise and how they can better manage their expenses. Prescription drug cost drivers According to CMS, the U.S. spent over $348 billion on prescription drugs in 2020. Although prescription drug spending has historically been a small proportion of national healthcare costs compared to hospital and physician services, it’s grown rapidly in recent years. Let’s explore some of the key factors that have led to this steady rise in prescription drug costs and examine cost-cutting solutions for employers. Influx of specialty drugs Specialty medications account for a smaller portion of U.S. prescriptions than nonspecialty drugs; yet they now command over half of the pharmaceutical market — 53% of prescription drug spending in 2021 was for specialty drugs, according to a report by The Segal Group. Specialty medications often require special handling and administration and can be more co

Benefits Buzz - March 2023

  White House announces end of COVID-19 emergency On Jan. 30, the Biden administration announced it plans to end the COVID-19 public health emergency and national emergency on May 11 . The COVID-19 PHE and national emergency were declared in early 2020 and have been extended numerous times. The Biden administration plans to extend the emergency periods one last time until May 11. According to the White House, this timeline supports an orderly wind-down of emergency measures and aligns with its commitment to give at least 60 days’ notice before the termination of the PHE. The end of the COVID-19 emergency triggers the end of many emergency measures related to the federal government’s pandemic response, including some requirements for employer-sponsored health plans. When the PHE ends, health plans will no longer be required to cover COVID-19 diagnostic tests and related services without cost sharing. Non-grandfathered health plans will still be required to cover recommended preventive

What is telemedicine and what are its advantages?

Technology has advanced to overcome the traditional communication barriers of time and distance. The practice of telemedicine is a step forward in healthcare, using telecommunication to bridge the gap of time, distance and affordability to reach patients who need medical attention. What is telemedicine? Telemedicine uses technology to facilitate communication, whether real-time or delayed, between a doctor and patient who are not in the same physical location, for the purpose of medical evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. Advances in telecommunication allow the exchange of medical information from one site to another to serve patients in a clinical setting. Telemedicine advantages Telemedicine offers numerous benefits for both doctors and patients. Advantages of using telemedicine include: Remote access Communicating remotely with a doctor is a primary function of telemedicine. With this technology, doctors can reach patients in remote, rural and underserved areas where there might no

Benefits Breakdown - February 2023

  The Trendiest Benefits for 2023 There’s no denying that employees’ needs have changed in recent years. Employers are striving to offer benefits to meet evolving worker needs shaped by the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a tight labor market and rising inflation.   Benefits have always been crucial for attracting and retaining top performers. In 2023, many employers are looking to offer more than just a healthcare plan. With workers paying more attention to their benefits and wondering how to stretch their dollars further, the following benefits could be popular offerings in 2023: voluntary benefits, such as accident and critical illness insurance; financial wellness benefits, including health savings and flexible spending account contributions and financial planning assistance; healthcare full premium coverage; and family-friendly benefits. Organizations can start optimizing benefits packages by evaluating employee preferences through surveys and thinking about ways to im

Benefits Buzz - February 2023

  Congress Extends Telehealth Relief for HDHPs The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (CAA) extends the ability of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to provide benefits for telehealth or other remote care services before plan deductibles have been met ─ without jeopardizing health savings account eligibility. This extension applies for plan years beginning after Dec. 31, 2022, and before Jan. 1, 2025. Background In general, telehealth programs that provide free or reduced-cost medical benefits before the HDHP deductible is satisfied are considered disqualifying coverage for purposes of HSA eligibility. However, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act allowed HDHPs to provide benefits for telehealth or other remote care services before plan deductibles were met, effective for plan years beginning before Jan. 1, 2022. A spending bill extended this relief to telehealth services provided in months beginning after March 31, 2022, and before Jan. 1, 2023. The CAA further

SECURE 2.0 Discussion Series: Session One

SECURE 2.0 provisions: What we know and what’s still up in the air The SECURE 2.0 Act, signed into law in late December 2022, has factored heavily in retirement industry discourse since the final legislation was published. As with any legislation of this depth and breadth, there’s a lot to digest and the industry takes time to adjust. Our team of experienced advisors recently met to discuss some of the more nuanced provisions of the legislation, such as changes to Roth contributions, and what they could mean for plan sponsors. Panel participants included the following HBS team members: Noah Buck, Christina Bauer-Dobias, Sean Bayne, Vincent Bocchinfuso and Kathleen Coonan. Highlights of our panel’s conversation below should serve to help guide plan sponsor thinking. On Roth employer contributions NB – In addition to deferring pre-tax or Roth, plan sponsors can now allow employer contributions to be classified as Roth, is that right? VB – Correct. This is immediately available to plan s