Insider News: Oct. 24, 2019

Posted by AllWays Health Partners blog team on October 24, 2019

Want to know how employers can improve the way they support their employees when it comes to mental health? This week's Insider News has articles about bringing mental health discussions into the workplace, newly proposed Massachusetts health care legislation, and more.

Study shows mental health is a difficult topic for employers—but it shouldn't be

In a study done by Mind Share Partners, SAP, and Qualtrics, less than half of respondents felt that mental health was a priority for their company, but 85% felt their company culture should support discussions around mental health. The results also indicated that 60% of respondents experienced symptoms of a mental health issue, and nearly that amount never talked about their condition at work. When they did, less than half felt the conversation was positive.

The Harvard Business Review points out that employees who feel supported by their company are more engaged and more likely to stay at that company. It also proposed several ways employers can do better, including: encouraging executive teams and management to share their experiences with mental health; investing in employee education and training; and providing mental health benefits.

Baker introduces healthcare bill to cut costs, boost care access

Gov. Charlie Baker introduced legislation to address surprise medical bills, limit when hospitals can charge a facility fee at a hospital outpatient department, and require hospitals and insurers to increase spending on behavioral health and primary care. To reduce out-of-pocket costs, the legislation bans surprise medical bills for out-of-network emergency and unplanned services rendered at an in-network facility.

It would also limit when a hospital can charge a facility fee at a hospital outpatient department, with a focus on how close a hospital clinic is to the hospital's main campus. The legislation also requires that pharmacies provide notification to people about their lowest out-of-pocket cost options for prescription drugs at their prescription pick-up time.

Other parts of the proposed legislation include requiring hospitals and insurers to increase spending on behavioral health and primary care by 30% over three years as well as penalizing drug manufacturers that increase the cost of medicines more than the consumer price index plus 2%.

Second quarter enrollment trends find growth for employer group coverage, declines in individual business

An assessment by Mark Farrah Associates (MFA) comparing second quarter 2018 with second quarter 2019 found that while the overall number of people receiving medical coverage from U.S. health insurers increased, there was some fluctuation for certain segments.

The trends include:

  • Employer groups remain the leading source of health care coverage in the U.S.
  • Enrollment and membership for individual business decreased by 3% 
  • Medicare Advantage plans saw a steady 3.4% increase in enrollment

Urgent care a growing alternative to ER across Mass.

Over the last decade, Mass. went from having 18 urgent care centers to 145. Ateev Mehrotra, a healthcare policy professor at Harvard University, has been studying the rise in urgent care centers across the country. He says the rise is due to several factors, with a big one being convenience.

Another factor is the nationwide shortage of primary care doctors, which has gotten worse in the last few years and has put further pressure on the healthcare system. Aside from accessibility, for patients, urgent care centers can mean big savings. A state study showed prices for urgent care treatment were about 15% to 20% of the cost of what would be charged in an ER.  

Topics: Insider News

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