A study by The Business Group found that many large employers expect a health cost increase of 5.3% starting in 2021. Part of the expected increase is due in part to mental health projections which include increases in online resources, training, flexible work schedules, and more.
Covid-19 has had an impact on projections as well and issues related to the virus have 64% of the surveyed employers reporting that Covid-19 has had a very significant effect on their healthcare strategy and health cost increase.
Source: Health Leaders Media
One example of the high price of health care comes from Texas where a family took their 8-year-old son for a Covid-19 test at a drive-through testing center and realized what was advertised as a $175 test, could cost them $2,479.
An article in ProPublica reveals that some insurance companies are being charged thousands of dollars for COVID-19 testing because of out-of-network charges. In addition, some testing centers are considered free-standing emergency rooms and charge the same kinds of prices for services.
Surprise billing is detrimental to patients and self-insurance plans and the Self-Insurance Institute of America (SIIA) is filing an amicus brief in a Colorado case in which a woman was charged an extra $303,709 after a spinal surgery due to a misreading of her benefit card.
SIIA said they are filing the brief to “support litigation efforts to protect the ability employers to utilize self-insurance or captive insurance in ways that best fit their risk management needs."
In a New York Times book review* the author provides three books that offer insight into the problematic pharmaceutical industry.
Three examples provided include a Hepatitis C drug that cures the disease in 12 weeks but costs $1,000 per pill, with an overall cost of $84,000. Also cited is notorious hedge-fund manager Martin Shkreli who took over a pharmaceutical company and raised the price of a parasite treatment from $13.50 per tablet to $750. Rounding out the story of outrageous pharma is the company that increased the price of EpiPens 600%.
The books the author reviews delve deep into the reasons American pharmaceuticals are so expensive including intellectual property rights, generics versus name brands, and the economic and political drivers of high costs.
The books referenced include “Medical Monopoly: Intellectual Property Rights and the Origins of the Modern Pharmaceutical Industry; Generic: The Unbranding of Modern Medicine; and Getting to the Root of High Prescription Drug Prices: Drivers and Potential Solutions.
*A subscription is required to read the entire review
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