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» New 988 mental health hotline is live! Benefits in M&A, free insulin and inhalers, and life expectancy too!

July 19, 2022

Behavioral Health, Digital Health, Economy, Employee Benefits, Health Equity, Healthcare Spending, Mental Health, News, Prescription Drugs, Self-Funding

… Late night when you need my love (emotional support)

The new 988 mental health hotline is live: 988 is the new three-digit number that routes callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number went live on July 16th and replaces the longer 1-800 273-TALK number. NPR put out a good write-up on the background of 988 and what gaps it will hopefully address in crisis response for individuals.

Dialing 988 takes callers to a Suicide & Crisis Lifeline that provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention, and crisis resources. The Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers and their website includes a variety of resources, including:

  • Coping during Community Unrest
  • Individuals with Neurodivergence
  • Black Mental Health
  • Maternal Mental Health
  • Youth
  • Disaster Survivors
  • Native Americans and Alaskan Natives
  • Veterans
  • LGBTQ+
  • Attempt Survivors

And more, including resources in Spanish.

Are you involved with mergers and acquisitions? Sign up for a webinar on Thursday July 21st on what to know about health plans & benefits during M&A.

I sometimes hear about acquisitions only after the transaction is closed, and that misses so many ways we as benefits consultants can add value to an investor. If your job is to assess potential investments and find ways to unlock business value, do you think it would help if you better understand what is often a top 2 or 3 expense for most companies?

This webinar will focus on issues specific to health and welfare benefits within a merger or acquisition, including the due diligence process, strategic management of group health and cafeteria plans, and the implications of controlled group status.

UnitedHealthcare (UHC) is giving drugs away for free, should you too? When the largest health insurance carrier makes a big change to their plans, you should stop and pay attention.

UnitedHealthcare announced that it will eliminate member cost-sharing for certain life-saving drug used for acute and chronic conditions, notably insulin, epinephrine, glucagon, naloxone, and albuterol.

This only pertains to UHCs fully-insured groups – so if you’re with a UHC ASO, you’d have to amend your plan documents. If you’re with another carrier or you’re self-funded, you should ask yourself what prompted UHC to take this action and if you want to copy it. UHC is adopting a newer approach to member health by addressing financial barriers to key medications. Should you?

Emergency Room facility fees vary widely: In news that probably won’t surprise you, emergency room fees vary significantly. And remember, prices don’t correlate to quality in healthcare.

The cash price for facility fees ranged from $161 to $1,097 in 2021 and the corresponding list price ranged from $263 to $1,847.

Recall that this pricing information is now required to be public; just how accessible hospitals will make this data remains to be seen. This is a great example of how healthcare prices are kind of BS and we provide perspectives on self-funding so groups can have better control and transparency over their own spending.

Examples of health disparities from Deloitte: US healthcare is rife with examples of health disparities. This is of critical importance to employers due to 1) connection to DEI efforts and 2) moral and financial considerations around their health plan.

Deloitte published a piece on health disparities and their impact on the healthcare system, and it includes:

  • Black adults are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with Diabetes than white adults
  • Women experienced an increased prevalence of CHD (coronary heart disease) during a study period while rates for men actually decreased
  • Your odds of developing Asthma increase from 7% at twice the FPL (Federal Poverty Line) to 11% if you live below the FPL (FPL in 2022 is $18,755 for single-person households and $38,295 for 4-person households.
  • Black women are more likely to have their Breast Cancer diagnosed at an advanced stage

Twitter thread on “Missing Americans” explores YLL – Years of Life Lost – in America, and it’s DARK: @JacobBor is a health economist and he published a 🔥 thread the impact of early death in the United States summarizing a paper he and his co-authors published recently.

“Missing Americans” is the term used for excess U.S. deaths and we experienced 1 million excess deaths in 2021. This is calculated if the U.S. had mortality rates similar to other wealthy nations (our peers).

While our drop in life expectancy made the news, falling by over 2 years, it’s hard to understand and can be misinterpreted. The truly bonkers thing is our “crisis of early death”.

(Credit: Jacob Bor @JacobBor)

Basically, we’re more likely to die at every age than peer nations, at rates 3 and 4x our peers in our early years.

Recall YLL (Years of Life Lost) that we mentioned earlier? When we take the 1 million excess deaths in 2021 and consider the lost years of those who died, the researchers found that we lost 25 million years of life in 2021.

There are racial and ethnic aspects to this (although a majority of the missing Americans in 2021 were white, this is due to their much larger population and age distribution)

All my Bridgerton fans say “The social season is upon us”: I am all in on this ridiculous show so I laughed when I came across this paper on how a lack of season from 1861 to 1863 had effects on marriages, wealth distribution, and social policy in 19th century England.

Basically, Queen Victoria went into mourning for her late husband and the Season was interrupted for a few years. This completely changed how young men and women found marriage partners during that time. As a result, peer-commoner intermarriages increased by 40 percent and marriages between landed wealth reduced by 30 percent. Long-term, these effects ‘reduced political power among the peers and affected public policy in late 19th century England’. Pretty interesting!

Want to chat about the notes above or about Bridgerton (or both)? Pick a time on my calendar for us to chat

Posted by in Behavioral Health, Digital Health, Economy, Employee Benefits, Health Equity, Healthcare Spending, Mental Health, News, Prescription Drugs, Self-Funding