Daily Insurance Report   
Walt Bernard Podgurski,  Editor,  440-773-1108, 
Walt@DailyInsuranceReport.com

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The "Daily Insurance Report" publishes the life insurance, health insurance, and employee benefits news that matters.
Editorial Mission Statement: The goal of this publication is to provide readers a broad selection of what is being written about the insurance industry and related issues. Some articles may have a “tilt” towards a particular perspective one way or another. Inclusion in this newsletter is not an endorsement of any views or content; but report the various and differing views appearing in media.


DEA Confirms Public Health Emergency Exception for Telemedicine Prescribing of Controlled Substances
Thomas B. Ferrante, Sunny J. Levine / Health Care Law Today Coronavirus Resource Center

With the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the looming possibility of large scale isolations and quarantines, lawmakers continue to demonstrate willingness to expand access to telehealth to combat this public health crisis. This is particularly important in the current environment of a highly contagious infectious disease like COVID-19, where requiring patients to physically visit their practitioner’s office to receive needed medication could result in patient (or health care practitioner) harm. For example, a patient could unknowingly expose other patients and health care practitioners to the coronavirus, or a patient could miss out on life-saving medication if the patient is too sick to leave their home and travel to their physician’s office for assessment and treatment.

On March 16, 2020, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) published a COVID-19 Information Page on the Diversion Control Division website, providing guidance relating to the COVID-19 public health emergency, including the ability to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine without a prior in-person exam. This public health emergency exemption is one of seven exceptions to the federal Ryan Haight Act’s requirement to conduct an in-person exam before prescribing controlled substances via telemedicine.


Implications of COVID-19 on Your Health and Welfare Benefit Plans
Natalie M. Nathanson, Jackson Lewis, nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements Lawyer, Attorney

Employers are grappling with employee benefit issues in response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19”). Efforts are being made to pave the way for widespread testing by eliminating cost barriers such as deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, or High Deductible Health Plan restrictions to ensure employees and their families are proactively being diagnosed once symptoms present, to ensure proper care management for the participant, and to assist in preventing the spread of the virus. Read on for more information about the changes that might impact your employer-provided health insurance and what you need to do to comply in this rapidly changing environment:

Remove Barriers to Coverage

Fully-Insured Plans: Several states (including Washington, New York, California, Vermont, Maryland, Nevada, and Oregon) have issued mandates directing that fully-insured health plans regulated by the Department of Managed Health Care immediately reduce cost-sharing to zero for all medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19.

Self-Insured Plans: Many claims administrators are offering free testing for COVID-19 to self-funded plans, so employers sponsoring self-insured plans should check with their administrator regarding the voluntary waiver of COVID-19 testing costs. Stop-loss policies usually have (advance) notice requirements that apply when the plan terms are changed, so consider notifying your stop loss carrier of any changes in coverage/benefits.

High Deductible Health Plans: Last week the Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2020-15 to confirm that until further guidance is issued, a High Deductible Health Plan (“HDHP”) still complies with HSA contribution guidelines if it provides health benefits associated with testing for and treatment of COVID-19 without a participant first satisfying the deductible. The payment for such tests and treatment of COVID-19 under the HDHP can be considered “preventive care.” More…

In Vitro Testing:
Employer Action Required
Plan Amendment:
Privacy Law Requirements:
Additional Ways to Help Employees
Leave Donation Programs:
Cash Payments to Affected Employees:



How reference-based pricing can recession-proof your benefits
By Amanda Schiavo / ebn

Incorporating reference-based pricing is one tool employers should be considering if they need to recast their budgets and reallocate what their projections are going to be going into 2021, Henka says.

As drug prices are a sizable and an ever-growing cost center, many employers are turning to reference pricing to reduce excess pharma spend. Reference pricing identifies the most expensive drugs used by the employee population, highlights more cost-effective alternatives, and then encourages members to switch to the most affordable drug. This approach can lower annual drug costs by 20%, according to studies in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

If an organization’s forecast is down 10% to 20% from what its revenue was expected to be going into 2021, the employer will have to make decisions on how to modify their operations, Henka says. Those decisions could center on the number of full time employees or how to reduce their costs.

“This has a trickle down effect into every single part of an organization including benefits and human resources, and they’re going to need to make some serious decisions,” Henka says.



Aflac Amends Employee Benefits to Address COVID-19 Concerns
Plan Includes Increased Telecommuting, Additional Paid Leave for Affected Employees, and Waiving Copays for Employees and Dependents
PRNewswire

In a message to all Aflac U.S. employees today, Aflac executives announced new measures designed to provide additional safety and security for the more than 5,700 Aflac employees across the United States.

These measures are in place through June 30, 2020, and allow for up to an additional 30 calendar days of paid leave for employees who experience symptoms consistent with or diagnosed as COVID-19. All Aflac employees and their dependents who are covered under the company-sponsored major medical policy will also experience a waiver of their copays when using telemedicine to receive a consultation for symptoms related to COVID-19. The company will cover 100% of the cost for COVID-19 tests.

"The steps we are taking today are designed not only to protect our employees, but to remind everyone that Aflac is a company that takes care of its people with the same integrity that we serve our customers," said Aflac U.S. President Teresa L. White.








  Archives

Monday - 03/16/20 - - What's in Congress' emergency coronavirus bill? Here's what you need to know.

Tuesday - 03/17/20 - - COVID-19 Strategies and Policies of the World's Largest Companies

Wednesday - 03/18/20 - - The COVID 19 Impact on Voluntary Benefits

Thursday - 03-19-20 - - CVS Health added five health and wellness programs to its benefits platform to provide employers with an all-in-one solution for voluntary perks.

Friday - 03-13-20 - - California accuses healthcare sharing ministry of misleading consumers


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Walt Bernard Podgurski - - Editor
440-773-1108
Walt@DailyInsuranceReport.com