It’s time for the latest news round up. This week, I’m focusing on important but overlook news that deserves a little more widespread attention.
- The Society of Actuaries have some concerns about the efficacy of the individual mandate. When the people who play with numbers all day have concerns about the long-term implications of health care reform and don’t see any viable scenarios where it has any significant impact on cost, I tend to listen. Sadly, that was my conclusion as well based on my back of the napkin calculations.
- Proposed rule would give patients access to their lab data. Depending on the state you live in, you may have no access, restricted access, or unfettered access to your lab data. Now, a federal rule is hoping to make lab data more accessible to patients.
- EEOC letter hints that wellness programs should be voluntary - maybe an official letter will come out soon. Meanwhile, you might want to run any wellness program designs through your legal counsel. The stance of the EEOC is interesting but unless they come out with firm guidance, there are so many loopholes in defining “voluntary” that it is a meaningless term.
- A summary from Financial Finesse on the State of US Retirement Preparedness. The answer is that most aren’t prepared – only 14% of people say that they are on track for retirement furthermore, most people don’t even seem to know how much they need for retirement.
- Employee Benefits News has an article about when employees are eligible for 401k hardship distribution for hurricane related reasons. The East Coast might need this after this summer!
- A few new companies are building tools to help consumers manage your health care expenses in one location. Cakehealth is one and Simplee is another. I am interested to see if they gain traction among consumers.
- Working Well has a great article on stress management programs in the workplace. They provide a great summary of the research as well as information about mobile apps for your employees.
- Seattle now has paid sick leave for employers with 5 or more employees. lt’s starting to get challenging as an employer to keep up with all of the municipal laws! Make sure you take the time to really look into local laws when you are expanding into a new state, acquiring employees in a new state, or have a new remote worker.
- Kaiser Health News and The Washington Post collaborated on a great article about concerns that the elderly are getting too many tests. The overuse of tests is becoming a hot area of research within the public health field – not just for elderly individuals but for all individuals.
- ICD-10 codes are on their way and they have some amusing codes. I cracked up reading some of the news codes but find it highly unlikely that a provider will bill for a laceration due to bird attack vs an orca differently.
- HHS removes the National Practitioner Data Bank which provided public access to physician disciplinary actions and malpractice information. Lots of researchers and consumer watchdog organizations used this for reporting so it’s quite a loss.
I love reading about the latest scientific research available. Here are some of the recent studies that have a direct impact on employee benefits or wellness.
- Volunteering to help others can increase life span according to new research.
- How you think about the past can influence the present – so try to drop the negativity.
- Responding to peer pressure is hardwired into our brains. Maybe social games can improve health a little bit! However, highly competitive games can cause aggression so get the competitive balance right.
- Smoking less can have a positive impact on health within 6 months.
- Do you have a wellness program for sleep? You might want to think about it! One study shows that insomnia costs the US workforce about $63 billion per year in lost productivity.
- Here’s a reason to link your vision and medical program. A simple test at an eye doctor’s office can help diagnose diabetes.