Medicare Drug Program: Changes Ahead (Please Finish)

It is possible that about 2 million Medicare participants could be switched over to a different insurance plan for their prescription drugs next year. Some may have to even shop around to avoid the double-digit premium increases coming.

Starting from November 15, open enrollment periods may see some increased action through the last day of the period on December 31.

“Everybody needs to shop around every year,” said Patricia Nemore, senior policy attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “Just because you like your plan this year doesn’t mean that plan will work the same next year.”

Often plans change their coverage each year. They change which drugs they will cover, for safety reasons, as well as the premium they will charge per month to remain competitive.

On average, Medicare Part D plans will charge a monthly premium of $28 in 2008, but the premiums vary widely across the nearly 1,800 plans around the country. The premiums range from $9.80 for a basic benefit to $107.50 for enhanced coverage.

http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/1107/469465.html

The Human and Financial Toll for Working Caregivers: From the Desk of CEO Kevin Sypniewski

In our workplaces all around us, though sometimes unseen, caregivers are faced with the task of trying to balance work and children while caring for an adult friend or family member. We know there are only so many hours in a day to squeeze in work and all of life’s other responsibilities. The result is that personal health and well-being almost always fall by the wayside. In the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Mature Market Institute study referenced below, the health related problems and employer health costs are finally quantified.

Simply put, working caregivers are far more likely to drive up health costs than non-caregivers. Considering the demographics of our population, it will continue to present an increase cost for health plans and financial burden for corporate America.

Our team here at AGIS stands ready to help you address this issue proactively with your clients and prospects. Thank you for your time, and we look forward to the possibility of working with you.

Caregiving Employees’ Health Problems Can Cost U.S. Companies $13.4 Billion Yearly

Most employers are promoting “health and wellness” programs to contain their healthcare costs and to improve employee productivity. Diabetes maintenance programs, cardiac programs, weight loss programs and smoking cessation program are some of the more common. While struggling as an overburdened, depressed caregiver year over year, it is not very likely that an employee can or will participate meaningfully in one of these health and wellness programs.

AGIS’ employee surveys reveal that 44% of employees report being involved in a caregiving event either currently or recently. This is after they have received education making them aware of all the tasks included in ‘caregiving’. They just think they are “helping out” with their parents or family members. With caregiving having a 44% prevalence rate in the workplace, shouldn’t we do something to address the healthcare toll that caregiving takes on the workforce? As seen in the Caregiver Healthcosts study (www.maturemarketinstitute.com) caregiving significantly increases the rates of cholesterol problems, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, kidney disease and heart disease.

Proactively addressing caregiver awareness and education is critical to managing overall employee health costs and productivity losses. Remember that the number one problem with caregiving is that caregivers don’t self-identify. So without broad-based workplace education, caregivers will not recognize their plight, caregiving services will go under-utilized, and other health and wellness program will be ineffective for those caregivers dealing with the stress, depression and anxiety created by caregiving for years on end. AGIS would like to help you “care for the caregiver” first! It makes good business cents!

Metlife’s Mature Market Institute Study with the National Alliance for Caregiving, Bethesda, Md., and the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Aging

What’s up with Grandma? – Dementia, Dehydration or Drugs: From the Desk of CEO Kevin Sypniewski

Recently, Elizabeth Cohen of CNN wrote an article about is “Grandma drugged up?” 

While the title was alarming, the reality was even more disturbing.  I sent this article to our team at AGIS. The response was shocking. I immediately heard back from three employees that have had this experience in their own family.  I got to thinking, if three people in our group have had this challenge, then what is the population as a whole experiencing? 

What’s frightening is so many of us don’t ask enough questions and many drug interactions go unidentified.  Simple things get misdiagnosed…dehydration can sometimes look like dementia. In the short time doctors spend with us, they can’t be expected to know what we know about our loved one’s situation.  Research, talk and ask questions.  Our loved ones’ lives might be at stake.  

Read the Article Here