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If you've been following the blog recently you've probably heard of the debate over pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) rebates. If you haven't then don't worry, we'll catch you up on it. Not too long ago, the Trump administration proposed a plan that would end drug rebates for federal payers. Even more recently Senator Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana, introduced a bill that would also move to end them in the commercial sector. It's clear that many politicians on both sides of the aisle are not happy with how PBM rebates have worked out.
Drug prices have been rising for a while now — studies show that they've been increasing at a rate faster than inflation since at least 2008. This is causing a number of issues for patients who can't afford their medication as well as who are attempting to provide comprehensive health coverage on a budget. Over half of Americans polled think that drug prices should be a top concern for the administration, and the administration seems to agree.
It's becoming more and more clear that we need to lower the cost of healthcare across the board. What's being done now often amounts to shifting around costs. Either the patient pays more out of pocket, the health insurance provider takes on more liability, or the employer bears an ever-increasing burden. Many employers view this as a problem that is ultimately outside of their control, but this is the wrong way to look at things. You can and should be proactive, but first, you need a clearer picture of what's going on.
Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) are a great way for businesses to save on their healthcare costs. They allow you to contribute money — tax-free of course — into a savings account that your employee can later use for certain health-related expenses. The popularity of HRAs has been ballooning in recent years, and the Trump administration seeks to encourage this with new regulations expanding the usage of HRA.
Ask any employee what their most desired benefit is. Nine times out of ten, the answer will be health insurance. Employees feel like they need it, and they will gladly turn down any job offer that doesn't include it as a benefit. As healthcare costs continuing to rise this puts employers in an awkward position. How do you provide insurance for employees while keeping costs in check?
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