Healthcare Services

Useful App: Medfax (Listed as One of the Best New Apps)

Need an independent, unbiased source of medical information about doctors, drugs, medical devices and hospitals?

MedFax can be used to verify doctors, prescription drugs, medical devices and hospitals. It provides reports that allow consumers to make well-informed decisions regarding their healthcare. One of the largest information sources of its kind, MedFax has combined and cross-referenced information from hundreds of sources, including state and federal agencies, the FDA, state health departments, county and federal courts and more. The result is over 1.5 million reports that present vital information right at the consumer’s fingertips.

  • Doctor Search – How well do you know your doctor? Check licensing, disciplinary record, malpractice history, etc…
  • Drug Search – Get complete information about your medications and their side effects.
  • Device Search – Complete information about the use and safety of medical devices.
  • Hospital Search – Find out how your hospital rates for patient satisfaction and safety.

Medfax brings unbiased, independent data source, Current information, continuous updates, Millions of records at your fingertips.

What Makes a Great EAP?

Most employers now believe Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are important elements in their total compensation and benefits offerings.  They know the equation:  by helping employees identify and solve personal concerns, EAPs create the opportunity for employees to focus and perform at their highest levels.  The return for employers is proven time and again by staff who are more engaged and work harder to achieve organizational goals.

However, selecting an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can be a complicated process.  EAP service delivery models vary greatly as do the depth, quality and comprehensiveness of clinical, management consultation and training services offered.  EAP “parent organizations” are also disparate; health plans, life insurance companies, workers compensation and even payroll services now offer EAPs, although usually with limited benefits.  While some large employers choose to offer in-house EAPs, most organizations contract with external providers and offer a broad range of professional and confidential EAP services, from brief assessment and referral models to comprehensive early intervention, counseling, crisis management, education and wellness programming.

Below are some questions to consider when choosing an EAP:

  • Does the EAP provide easy access with 24-hour response?
  • Are employees and family members able to participate in confidential, professional, thorough assessments and face-to-face counseling services with skilled, licensed clinicians?
  • If specialized or ongoing care is indicated, do employees receive well-matched referrals to treatment or community resources?
  • Does the EAP offer expert Drug Free Workplace Programs such as DOT/ SAP assessments, management support and mandated supervisory referrals ?
  • Is there significant follow-up to assure employee satisfaction, compliance and best outcomes?
  • Is the EAP skilled assisting leadership prevent workplace violence and responsive when there is a need for crisis intervention, de-escalation or post-traumatic event management?
  • If a crisis occurs at the workplace, are professional and unlimited crisis intervention services provided?
  • Does the EAP offer FREE and targeted promotion to heighten EAP awareness and utilization, including outreach to engage employees with the most severe problems (many with devastating and costly substance abuse and mental health issues)?
  • Are unlimited EAP promotional materials and employee orientations included?
  • Are on-site services such as employee education, management training, mediation and organizational development core elements of the EAP offering?
  • Is the EAP “all-inclusive”?  A high quality EAP should be comprehensive and not charge extra for management referrals, strong utilization rates, crisis debriefings, EAP orientation or supervisory training programs; these items should be included in the quoted rate.

Selecting an EAP begins, first, with understanding your organizational needs and how an EAP can help you meet them.  Be aware of choosing an EAP that is “free” or “embedded” in another benefit product. This may seem like an economic option, but may not be the best value or quality for your organization or employees. A great EAP should be highly promoted, well utilized by employees and families, and the “go to” resource for employers who want results.

This article was contributed by Melissa Fabrikant, LCSW, CIRS – Director of Project Management from Managed Care Concepts EAP www.theemployeeassistanceprogram.com.

Healthcare Bluebook brings Price Transparency

Healthcare Bluebook provides transparency to consumers to compare healthcare costs and quality. Employers can provide a valuable tool to employees that will enable them to shop for the most affordable high quality care.

How does Healthcare Bluebook work?

  • Employees search for services using common language
  • Employees learn the price range they can expect to pay how much they can save by making cost effective choices
  • Prices are based on your local area network rates
  • Employees can compare specific providers on both cost and quality

Why do employers need a transparency solution?

  • In-network prices for healthcare services vary by 300% to 500%
  • Employees don’t know that prices vary within their network or how to find lower cost quality providers
  • Employers and employees can cut healthcare costs if they have the right information, tools and incentives

Healthcare Bluebook can be paired with both self-funded and fully insured plans. Although it supports traditional plan designs, EBA believes it is a super-value-added support for consumer driven high deductible plans. Healthcare Bluebook says employers have been decreasing total medical spend by 4% to 12%.

How to choose a PEO – Part 3 (Payroll & Reporting Capabilities)

Payroll contains all the information needed to run the analyses need to comply with the complexities of PPACA. Thus your PEO should be able to run the reports to navigate through the ACA. Some PEO providers offer insight into only the parts of the law their system can interpret, the top tier vendor’s offer a comprehensive solution Support needs to include:

  • Eligibility – Measurement periods under Shared Responsibility and per-month detail of hours and average hours per week and month over the defined date range.
  • Affordability – Ability to calculate the percentage of federal poverty level earned by the employee over the date range to estimate Medicaid eligibility. View results of all affordability safe harbor methods including a count of how many employees exceed the affordability threshold.
  • FTE Determination Report – This report will calculate the number of FTEs for an entire organization or subset of employees within a group.

The ACA introduces numerous laws, safe harbor provisions and reporting requirements. To make the complexities of this act easier to understand and to effectively manage your company’s needs, be sure your PEO vendor can help you and your broker navigate across all these areas.

AngioScreen – Know more than your cholesterol level!

Forty percent of all Americans having a stroke have normal cholesterol levels. Not what one would expect considering vascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and the leading cause of heart attack and stroke.

A six minute health screen will provide the information needed. AngioScreen is a simple, non-invasive vascular screening designed to provide information about your circulation and risk of heart disease or stroke. Testing includes blood pressure, pulse, heart rhythm, BMI, ABI (Ankle Brachial Index). Screening is looking for blockage or plaque. You receive a color printout of photos of your carotid arteries (located in the neck and carry blood to the brain) along with written results and abnormal values highlighted in red which have also been copied to a CD to share with your doctor.

Log on to www.AngioScreen.com to inquire about screenings. Be sure to tell them Mike Schunk of Employee Benefit Advisors recommended the test.

Rx Impact – Bid Rx – Prescriptions for Less (Part 2 of 2)

BidRx (www.bidrx.com) is a website built by pharmacists that links consumers with pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies, so consumers can make better decisions when purchasing prescription drugs. BidRx provides the information needed to identify the best value drug; then pharmacies compete for filling prescriptions. Consumers can

  • See cost of prescriptions (original plus alternatives) and services.
  • See list of participating pharmacies in your geographic area.
  • Get bids from pharmacies that want to earn your business.

Employers can use the site to help communicate the true cost of prescriptions. Employees see the prescriptions’ maximum price before bids (a discounted price), alternative prescriptions with discounted prices, and competitive bids (even lower discounted prices). Employees can use the site to lower drug costs. 

Important – Medications ordered through BidRx.com may be out-of-network and thus not apply towards the deductible. Therefore, BidRx may be used best for drugs with bid prices less than your copay.  So if you find a deal, check your network price and copay, too.  If the savings is worth it, buy it.

When registering, you will need a referral code, feel free to use our code. EBA’s Referral Code is 35FFN.

Examples

  • Simvastatin (generic for Zocor and alternative for Lipitor and Crestor) for lowering cholesterol usually has a generic co-pay of $10 or $15 for a 30 day’s supply.  EBA was able to get a bid price of $3.40 for a 90 day’s supply.  That’s an annual savings of $75.
  • Amlodipine (generic for Norvasc) for lowering blood pressure usually has a generic co-pay of $10 or $15 for a 30 day’s supply.  EBA was able to get a bid price of $3.68 for a 90 day’s supply.  That’s an annual savings of $75.
  • Nexium (the purple pill) retails at $762 for a 40 mg 90 day supply. BidRx price was $660. Similar drugs (generics) cost just over $20.

The best employee absences are the ones that never happen

A 2012 study showed half (48%) of a company’s employees experience business or personal legal-related issues each year, spending an average of 51 hours to resolve them.

Compared to the average, these employees:

  • Are absent five times more
  • Use medical benefits four times more
  • Use sick leave twice as often

A range of employee assistance services (EAP) to complement core benefits programs and meet any employer’s needs and budget is available, i.e. Long Term Disability contract also comes with optional ID Theft Recovery Services, for additional peace of mind.

Contact me to learn more.

Medical Tourism

The Medical Tourism Association is helping employers and hospitals connect with companies to save millions in medical expenses. It’s popularity will grow as healthcare reform (Obamacare) is expected to create backlogs for medical services.

Medical tourism (MT) is the patient travelling from highly developed nations to other areas of the world for medical care, usually to find treatment at a lower cost. Medical tourism is different from the traditional model of international medical travel where patients usually seek care travelling from less developed nations to major medical centers in highly developed countries for treatment that may not be available in their own communities.

Services typically sought include elective procedures as well as complex specialized surgeries such as joint replacement (knee/hip), cardiac surgery, dental surgery, and cosmetic surgeries. Individuals with rare genetic disorders may travel to another country where treatment of these conditions is better understood. However, virtually every type of health care, including psychiatry, alternative treatments, convalescent care and even burial services are available.

Over 50 countries have identified medical tourism as a national industry.

The Eyes, a Window to Health – Part 2

Employers and employees aren’t seeing the health and productivity boosts that would be possible if more employees took advantage of their vision benefit, especially in an aging workforce. According to Transitions Optical, Inc., nearly half of employees aren’t taking advantage of their vision benefit, by either not enrolling (24%) or by not using their benefit to receive an eye exam (32%). Transitions Optical offers four reasons why employers should take eye education seriously.

1. If you can’t see well, you can’t work well. – 1 in 4 employees, age 45 or older, has to take breaks to rest their eyes at work, because they hurt or feel tired. Unfortunately, even slightly miscorrected vision — so slight an employee may not even notice — can reduce productivity by up to 20%.

2. Mental health and eye vision are connected – Vision problems can worsen mental decline and depression – issues that are already a heavy burden on today’s workforce. Older employees with poor vision are 5 times more likely to develop cognitive decline without dementia than their peers with very good or excellent vision. Untreated poor vision in the elderly is also linked to actual dementia. For instance, older adults with poor vision without intervention (such as eyecare visits and cataract surgery) are almost 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

3. Eighty percent are bothered by glare – Almost all Americans say glare affects their vision outdoors, and 7 out of 10 agree that their eyes are sensitive to light. The right eyewear can help employees counter their issues with light and glare sensitivity.

4. Employees think vision benefits are important – More than 90 percent of employees agree their vision benefit will be more important to them as they age. Nearly all employees say it’s very important to them that their vision benefit offers the latest lens technologies.

Employees have an overall low awareness of the eye/overall health connection. For instance, half don’t know that smoking can affect their eyes. Many diseases can be detected by an eye exam at an early stage, when preventive steps can still be taken to avoid the disease or minimize its impact.

www.EyeSiteOnWellness.com, sponsored by EyeMed, is a complimentary resource employees can access anytime, anywhere. Featuring useful tools, including customizable Wellness Calendar and Wellness Library, the site makes it easy to keep informed and aware of the importance of regular vision care.

The Eyes, a Window to Health – Part 1

The eyes are the only place in your whole body that offer a clear view of the blood vessels, without invasive techniques. That’s why with every exam, an eye doctor can gain deeper insight into a patient’s overall health and wellness.

Vision disorders account for more than $8 billion in lost productivity every year. However, regular eye exams can address and correct vision issues that may hamper performance. They can also help identify early signs of certain chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, before they become costly long-term medical issues. 

www.EyeSiteOnWellness.com, sponsored by EyeMed, is a complimentary resource employees can access anytime, anywhere. Featuring useful tools, including customizable Wellness Calendar and Wellness Library, the site makes it easy to keep informed and aware of the importance of regular vision care.

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