With many changes to health care coming in 2016, it’s important to help employees pick a plan that can guarantee you appropriate prescription benefits.

Prescription planning is changing as prices increase. Read on to learn how you can help employees get the most out of your prescription benefits.

Why Consumers Often Err in Choosing Health Plans. The New York Times: “Eric Johnson, a Columbia business professor, led a study that found that without substantial additional assistance, a consumer’s likelihood of selecting the lowest-cost plan is no better than chance. The researchers conducted a series of experiments on people similar to those who would shop for marketplace coverage. Each study participant was asked to presume he’d use a certain amount of health care and, based on that, to choose the lowest-cost plan from among eight choices, which varied by premium, doctor co-pay and deductible. Only 21 percent could accomplish this task, a figure not statistically different from chance. The annual cost of errors was about $250.”

Start Spending Down Your FSA Balance Now. Money: “Here are what health care and benefits experts say you should do — and when — to get the most bang out of your FSA buck … . Stock up on prescriptions. ‘If they use mail order for prescription drugs, December may be a good time to refill, especially if their prescription drug benefit is changing in January,’ Dan King (vice president and general manager of benefit services at ADP) says.”

Poll: Americans’ No. 1 Health Priority is Keeping Critical Drugs Affordable for Patients. U.S. News & World Report:“Americans from across the political spectrum are worried about the cost of prescription drugs for serious diseases, following weeks of news coverage about companies hiking prices for critical medicines. Keeping drugs for cancer, hepatitis, HIV and other conditions affordable is the top health priority for Democrats, Republicans and independents, according to a poll released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Overall, 77 percent of those surveyed said the issue was their No. 1 health concern, reflecting recent outrage over drug pricing that has spilled over into the presidential campaign.”

Merck CEO Says Drug-Price Debate Doesn’t Account for R&D Risks. LifeHealth Pro: “Drugmakers have raised concerns about the trade pact’s limits on protection of data on biologic medications. Frazier said he explained to the president that protections for intellectual property and prices are related. An August poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 72 percent of Americans think the cost of drugs is unreasonable, and a majority preferred measures to contain prices, such as letting Medicare negotiate with drugmakers and requiring companies to disclose information on how they set prices.”

How to Trim Prescription Drug Costs. Las Vegas Review-Journal: “A 2014 American Association of Retired Persons’ report titled ‘Rx Price Watch Report’ found that prices for widely used brand name prescription drugs outpaced inflation in every year from 2006 to 2013. For instance, retail prices for 227 brand name prescription drugs increased by an average of 12.9 percent in 2013 versus a general inflation rate of 1.5 percent. Those cost jumps hit older Americans particularly hard. In 2013, the average cost for a brand name prescription drug was nearly $3,000 per year, according to the AARP study. As some two-thirds of older Americans take three or more prescription drugs regularly, that translates to some $8,800 spent per person.”

(Source: www.winstonbenefits.com)

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