Weekend Update / Miscellany

  • OPM has launched its new employee benefits website just in time for Open Season which begins on November 10.
  • The Leapfrog Group announced that 63% of the 1220 hospitals participating in the Group’s patient safety survey have adopted the Group’s never events policy.
  • USA Today reports that Medicare Part D expenses fell by $6 billion in the last federal fiscal year which ended September 30, 2008. According to the paper,

    Big reasons for the savings:• Generic drugs. The use of generic drugs has grown sharply, especially among seniors. Norvasc, for high blood pressure, and Fosamax, for osteoporosis, are among expensive drugs now available in generic form. Generics account for 64% of Medicare prescriptions compared with 61% in the private sector, Medicare says. • Fewer enrollees. The program has 2 million fewer participants than originally forecast. Some seniors decided to keep existing drug coverage, Medicare says. Also, fewer poor people enrolled than expected. • Doughnut hole. Seniors have cut costs to avoid falling into the “doughnut hole” — a coverage gap in which drug expenses between $2,510 and $4,050 a year are not insured.

  • Speaking of generic drugs, CVS Caremark announced that starting November 9, you can pay $10 for a Health Savings Pass that will allow you to buy a 90-day prescription for one of more than 400 common generic maintenance medications for $9.99 at your local CVS pharmacy. The Pass also provides a 10% discount to cash paying customers at MinuteClinics. CVS is relatively late to the game of offering low cost generics.