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Improve your health with Spring cleaning

Jumping into Spring with a good cleaning means participating in an age-old tradition rooted in biological, cultural and even practical traditions that goes back hundreds of years.

The change of season has long required a good scrubbing because of the byproducts of keeping a home warm. Think of the 1800s and earlier, when homes were coated with a noticeable layer of soot from the fires lit with coal and wood or the lamps burning oil and kerosene.

Spring also coincides with religious ceremonies associated with a tradition of cleaning the home or altar, including Passover, Easter and Nowruz, or Persian New Year.

Spring cleaning isn’t just practical or a tradition, though. Studies have found cleaning, as an activity, can help reduce stress, and the resulting lack of clutter and cleanliness curtails anxiety. It also helps improve health by improving the air quality and helping you remain active without thinking about it.

Here are 7 tips to get you started Spring cleaning:

  1. Set a schedule: It’s always better to have goals and structure when starting a big house project. Make a schedule that fits your availability, such as setting particular days or weeks to de-clutter, clean the kitchen, garage, living spaces, bathrooms, bedrooms and more.
  2. Top to bottom: Start your cleaning with the ceiling and work your way down. That way you avoid having to repeat dusting or vacuuming along the way.
  3. Tidy up: Clutter creates stress in your environment, so it’s important to start any Spring cleaning with a cleanse. Use some quick questions to ask yourself to help you decide if an item is worth keeping. “Have I used this in the last year? Does this item spark joy in my life?” Read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for more on how to get rid of old items and organize.
  4. Enlist help: You and your family helped make the mess together, it’s only right that you clean it together. Simple tasks can be allocated to young children and this is a good opportunity to teach older children how to do more thorough cleaning. They may not enjoy the process but they will certainly love a clean home.
  5. Deep Clean: Don’t forget all the items you don’t clean on a regular basis, such as curtains, ceiling fans, blinds, rugs, carpets and anything else. Cleaning these items even a few times per year will help them last longer and cut down on the allergens and germs in your house.
  6. Stay safe: Be careful with the chemicals you’re using to clean. Regular household cleaners can be dangerous when mixed together or if used without proper ventilation. So use green or natural chemicals when you can. They’re less harsh on the environment and on your belongings.

These are just a few tips to get you started. See more tips about cleaning individuals items by clicking here.

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Senate digs into why drug prices are so high

Executives from pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers could not agree on the main factors causing rising drug costs as they appeared before the Senate Finance Committee in a series of hearings aimed at investigating the industry and finding possible solutions.

Each set of industry leaders were pointing the finger at each other for the cause. Neither of them was in favor of sharing more information with the American public as a means of decreasing costs, though both were in favor of the other having to do so.

The hearings began on February 26 with seven executives from the top drugmakers in the country. All of the Senators, Republican and Democrat, expressed deep concern for the rising cost of drugs, especially when considering the price difference for the same products in Europe and other countries.

“You’re willing to sit by and hose the American consumer while giving price breaks to consumers overseas,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the senior Democrat on the committee.

Drug company executives did not have many answers for this. They said Americans receive drugs earlier than those in other countries and said they feel obligated to sell their products abroad, despite their lower profitability because it would be “immoral to leave the patients behind,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, the chief executive of Merck.

They said the main issue concerning drug pricing is not the high list prices, but that much of the rebates their companies offer never reach patients. They claim they are swallowed by the middlemen in the industry, the pharmacy benefit managers (PBM). They were in favor of more transparency regarding rebates and the Trump administration’s proposal to get rid of rebates.

But Senators were not so convinced this would solve the problem. They wanted firmer, more concrete commitments from the drugmakers that should Congress abolish rebates, drugmakers would lower their list prices.

On Tuesday, Senators had a hearing with executives from the top PBMs in the country. Many Senators were puzzled at their role in the overall drug market other than as “middlemen” taking a cut of profits along the way. Traditionally they are the go-betweens that negotiate with drugmakers on which medicines are covered and by how much on an insurance plan.

PBM executives balked at the suggestion they exist simply to increase costs. They said they are an important part of the system, as experts in pharmaceuticals, aimed at finding for its clients the cheapest, most effective drugs to cover.

They blamed rising prices on a lack of competition in the industry. They said having more generic or biosimilar drugs available would help with negotiations. It’s a solution that would affect their favorite foe, the drug manufacturers the most.

It remains to be seen if these hearings will result in any additional legislation. The Trump administration has proposed plans intended to curb rising costs, but there remains a lot of debate in Congress if the proposed measures would accomplish its goal. Both parties are eager to make progress on this issue, as rising healthcare costs are one of the biggest problems facing most Americans.

President Trump highlights healthcare in State of the Union

Health care has long been a priority for the Trump administration, and the President used his State of the Union speech this week to highlight his priorities when it comes to improving health and bringing down costs for consumers.

Ahead of the speech, the Trump administration released its plan to curb drug prices for Americans, especially those under 65. His plan proposes eliminating the legal protections that allow pharmacy benefit managers to accept rebates from drug companies for brand-name drugs. Rebates would instead be credited to patients when they fill their prescriptions at the pharmacy.

These after-the-fact discounts are seen by many as one of the driving factors pushing up the list price of drugs. President Trump focused on the struggle this can cause, as many Americans are increasingly responsible for paying larger portions of these prices.

He also called for more transparency in general in the healthcare industry, asserting that if  hospitals, drug companies and insurers had to “disclose real prices,” consumers would have more information that would foster more competition.

“It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong, this is unfair, and together we will stop it. We will stop it fast. I am asking the Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients.”

There is bipartisan support in Congress for legislation to bring down drug prices and to improve healthcare pricing overall, but any bill would likely face strong opposition from lobbyists from pharmacy benefit managers, pharmaceutical companies and insurers.

Complicating the issue as well is the current climate in Washington with the divided government. It is still unclear if Congress will be able to work with the President on key issues like these, while so much time and energy is being spent on other subjects, like border security and the government budget.

President Trump went on to talk about his hopes for increased funding for research on treatments for childhood cancer and a cure for HIV and AIDS in the United States within the next 10 years. He called on Democrats and Republicans to pass his budget, which seeks additional funding for the National Institute of Health for both initiatives.

Both priorities are largely seen as an outreach to Democrats and as issues the country could unify around. No specific legislation outside of the budget proposals have been released.

Overall, President Trump’s State of the Union address covered a wide range of topics but his focus on these initiatives shows healthcare remains a priority for the administration.

It will be a game of watch-and-see as Trump’s own campaign for reelection becomes increasingly underway. He may want to tout a big legislative win regarding healthcare on the campaign trail, especially as efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act were unsuccessful early in his presidency.

 

ClaimLinx saves small businesses $4.5M on health care in 2018

Insurance consultant finds innovative solutions to reclaim dollars for employers

BOSTON, Dec. 31, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Health insurance consultant and agency ClaimLinx saved small business owners a total of $4.5 million on benefit costs in 2018 using its unique strategy for purchasing insurance.

For more than 15 years, ClaimLinx has been pioneering ways of saving small businesses money on benefits. In 2018, the company reached new records of savings for employers, cutting costs by 20 percent or more within the first year of a business starting its program and keeping renewal rates below 5 percent in following years.

Tom Quigley, National Benefit Consultant, said partnering with ClaimLinx is simply about the numbers.

“It all comes down to a math problem,” he said. “Do you want to pay more to an insurance company, or do you want to keep more in your pocket?”

The trick is ClaimLinx combines two types of insurance: traditional coverage from a major carrier and self-funded reimbursement coverage from the employer.

First, ClaimLinx helps companies choose a high deductible health plan from a major carrier, which includes access to a wide provider network and a stop-loss in case of high medical costs from an employee.

Then, ClaimLinx customizes a medical expense reimbursement plan funded by the employer to return benefits employees need, such as copays and a lower deductible.

The resulting plan saves business owners thousands of dollars per employee because they are paying only for services rendered, rather than prefunding major carriers’ bottom line.

In 2018, insurance companies reported strong growth, already amassing an estimated $47 billion in global profit by the end of the second quarter, according to analysis of company documents by Axios media company. 

Where these premium funds end up can be a mystery for employers, but not so with ClaimLinx. The self-funded plan enables employers to track utilization, a useful tool for the future when cutting unnecessary or misused benefits.

Christy Quigley, President of ClaimLinx, wonders how small businesses continue to afford high healthcare costs. Average premium rates for a family plan from a major carrier reached $19,616 in 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey.

“As a small business owner myself, I don’t know how companies keep up with premium rates without finding a solution like ours,” she said.

Contact: Whitney Faber, (617) 892-4655
wfaber@claimlinx.com
www.claimlinx.com

View published release here

ClaimLinx reclaims thousands of dollars for consumers

Business pioneers strategy for employers to pay less for company health plan

CINCINNATI, Dec. 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — As health plan premiums rise nationally, so too do insurance companies’ earnings, but one local business has found a way to return some of those would-be profits to consumers.

ClaimLinx is a consultant, insurance agency and third-party administrator specializing in an alternative strategy for purchasing health insurance that saves companies money while delivering quality benefits.

Nationally, insurance companies reported strong growth in 2018, amassing an estimated $47 billion of global profit by the end of the second quarter, according to an analysis of company documents by Axios media company.

Not all of that money is being funneled into improving care or services. Insurance companies spend only 80 percent of funds collected in plan premiums on actual medical care, as required by the Affordable Care Act.

Packed into those huge premium bills are charges for administration, marketing and company profits for share-holders. That’s thousands of dollars each year being given to insurance companies instead of being spent on what workers really need: quality medical care.

Tom Quigley, National Benefit Consultant at ClaimLinx, says buying traditional health plans leaves a lot of money on the table, an especially difficult prospect for small businesses where profit margins are slim.

“It’s really a shame, because people are really just giving all this money away to health insurance companies without even realizing it.” 

So ClaimLinx abandons traditional methods of purchasing health insurance. Instead, it shows clients how to combine a high deductible plan from a major carrier with a self-funded medical expense reimbursement plan. 

The plan with a major carrier offers a wide physicians network with discounts for services and a stop loss in case of high medical costs. The medical expense reimbursement plan offers the ability to add a lower deductible and better cost-sharing measure for services, like copays.

Christy Quigley, President of ClaimLinx, compares this strategy to other types of coverage.

“People have car insurance, but they don’t buy it for $40 oil changes. Imagine how expensive it would be if it did. We use the same concept for health insurance.” 

This two-prong strategy allows small businesses to restore some of its health care dollars to its employees by delivering better benefits at a much lower price. 

Contact: Whitney Faber, (617) 892-4655
wfaber@claimlinx.com
www.claimlinx.com

View the published release