Nearly 24 million adults in the United States have long Covid. Of those, 2-4 million are not working because of the disease. Because there is still much to be learned about long Covid, diagnostic and treatment options still need to be clarified. This can leave insurers in a sticky spot because the costs are unknown.
An estimated 7.5% of the population suffers from long Covid. A small per-member, per-month price tag for diagnosis and treatment could be significant. There are still too many unknowns about disease management surrounding long Covid, and it could be extremely expensive. Insurance plans may “insist on basing coverage on evidence and treatment options”.
Symptoms for long Covid that the CDC has compiled include:
• Fatigue that interferes with daily life
• Symptoms that worsen after physical or mental exertion
Respiratory and heart symptoms
• Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Heart palpitations
• Brain fog
• Sleep issues
• Pins and needles feelings
• Change in taste or smell
• Depression and anxiety
• Stomach pain
• Joint or muscle pain
• Changes in menstrual cycles
Source: Fierce Healthcare
Myths about HSA-qualified plans can cause employees to miss out on this important benefit. One myth is that HAS money disappears after employment ends. Another myth is that an HSA-qualified plan is a reduction in benefits. Finally, another myth is that HAS-qualified plans are more expensive.
Clear communication is the key to getting employees to understand the truth behind these myths. Many employees think that HSA money disappears if they change jobs. HSA accounts are individual bank accounts that are owned by the employee. This is different than an FSA which does require the employee to “use it or lose it”. Communicate to your employees that an HSA helps you save for future expenses or retirement.
Another myth is that HSA plans are a reduction in benefits. Again, the tax benefits associated with an HSA are important to communicate. The benefits of an HSA extend to any medical, dental or vision expense which is a boost in benefits.
The final myth is that HSA plans are more expensive because they can only be paired with high deductible health plans (HDHP). While it is more of an upfront cost for an HDHP, once the deductible is met, these plans often provide better coverage. Additionally, HSA-qualified plans are required to have an out-of-pocket maximum. Use scenarios for each type of employee (young, single, new parent, large family, nearing retirement) to demonstrate how an HSA could benefit them.
Overall, better communication with employees will help them make better decisions based on facts.
The Biden administration has issued a proposal to clarify when workers should be classified as independent contractors versus employees. Employees are eligible for minimum wage, overtime and are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Businesses such as Uber and Lyft as well as some in construction and trucking have decried the new proposal as detrimental to their operating costs.
Under the Trump administration, the rule about independent contractors gave greater weight to how much control workers have over their jobs as well as opportunities for profit or loss. The Biden administration is proposing four additional factors to consider. Read more about the additional factors that could affect employers.
The new factors to consider include:
• Investments by the worker and employer
• The degree of permanence of the working relationship
• The extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer's business
• The degree of skill and initiative exhibited by the worker
Opponents argue that there isn’t enough known about how the initial rule from the Trump administration has failed, therefore there may not be a need for additional guidelines.
One of the nation’s largest hospital chains, CommonSpirit, recently suffered a ransomware attack that led to delays in surgery, patient care, and rescheduled appointments. CommonSpirit includes 140 hospitals in the United States refused to share how many of its facilities may have been affected. However, hospitals in Tennessee, Texas, and Seattle announced they were affected.
Ransomware attacks happen frequently and typically knock all systems offline which limits access healthcare providers have to patient records. Just this year, it’s estimated that over 60 hospitals have been affected by ransomware. While only one death has been attributed to a cyberattack over the years, experts say that attacks increase the stress on the system and can lead to higher mortality rates.
Source: NBC News
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