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Phia Group Media


2024 Benefest: Not Just Massachusetts in Focus

On June 14, 2024
Earlier this month, 2024 Benefest, hosted by the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Benefits and Insurance Professionals (NABIP), took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Boston-Westborough. While the conference largely focused on the Massachusetts healthcare ecosystem – panel discussions of which reached the general consensus that, from an affordability and access perspective, these are incredibly challenging times due to unprecedented staffing shortages reducing providers’ daily bandwidth – there was considerable time spent examining federal healthcare developments, including how November’s election will impact employer-sponsored benefit plans.

The Stewardship of Hospitals

On May 16, 2024
Hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, long-term care facilities, primary care physician practices, nursing homes, hospice care. They are the most indispensable institutions of any functioning society, but unlike a Fortune 500 company or professional sports franchise, the identity of their respective owners often remains an afterthought. That is, unless you work for or are served by a financially distressed health care system, such as for example Steward Health Care, the massive private-for-profit healthcare conglomerate that recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

A New Year Brings New (Higher) Prescription Drug Prices

On January 18, 2024
It must be January. W-2 forms are hitting the mail. Fitness centers are packed to the brim. The NFL playoffs are in full force.

Is the Department of Labor Offsetting a Major Problem?

On January 3, 2024
As if Americans on employer-based health plans didn’t face enough obstacles in trying to obtain reasonably priced healthcare.

For Sickle Cell Disease Patients, Hope Has Arrived – but at What Cost?

On December 21, 2023
For generations of sickle cell disease (SCD) patients, the suffering has been unbearable – with no end in sight. SCD, an inherited genetic red blood cell disorder that affects hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout the body, torments nearly 100,000 Americans (20 million people worldwide), a disproportionate number of whom are African-American. Among other symptoms, SCD often triggers chronic bouts of excruciating pain that require regular hospitalization, organ failure, strokes, and shortened life expectancy. Meanwhile, the only known cure for the insidious disease has been a bone marrow transplant.

Being Mindful of Telemedicine Access

On November 9, 2023
From a healthcare standpoint, two of the most significant byproducts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been the exploding popularity of Telemedicine, the practice of providing medical and mental health services remotely, and a heightened awareness of many Americans’ longstanding mental health issues. Due to a confluence of prolonged extenuating circumstances, it became readily apparent to healthcare providers, politicians, social workers, employers, teachers, and parents on both sides of the Mississippi that a.) the inimitable convenience of virtual healthcare does not compromise quality (at least for some patients and practitioners) and b.) many Americans experiencing emotional distress have long been suffering in silence.

District Court Strikes a Blow to Copay Accumulator Programs

On October 11, 2023
Many of our clients are aware of, or even utilize, “copay accumulator” programs – these programs create plan savings by not counting amounts received by patients from manufacturer assistance programs toward annual deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Some programs go a step further by actually increasing the applicable copayment for certain drugs to maximize the amount a patient may be eligible to receive from manufacturers.

Wegovy: The Heart of the Matter

On August 18, 2023
Obesity adversely impacts upwards of 100 million adults in the US and accounts for nearly $150 billion in annual health care spending, yet health insurers have been reluctant to cover high-priced weight loss drugs, ones they frequently label as “cosmetic” or “lifestyle” medications. But, given what transpired earlier this month, is it possible that there could be an impending sea change in the medical field’s perception of such treatment?

Diapers & Wipes Reflection

On August 3, 2023
As my family and I look forward to celebrating our daughter Kinsley’s first birthday this Sunday, we have revisited some of our fond memories and challenges in our first year as a family of five. In doing so, we have discussed how helpful Phia’s “Diapers and Wipes” program has been to our family.

A Weight Off My Chest

On June 6, 2023
Insurance is supposed to be something you purchase to protect yourself against unforeseen – but costly – losses. You don’t “expect” to be involved in a motor-vehicle accident, but you purchase automobile insurance to protect yourself against the costs incurred in an accident. You don’t expect your home to flood or burn down, but you purchase homeowner’s insurance to protect yourself against the costs incurred in such incidents. Automobile insurance does not pay to fill your car’s gas tank or change the oil. These are foreseen, planned costs of automobile ownership and maintenance. Homeowner’s insurance does not pay to replace the filters in your HVAC or power wash mold from the siding. These are foreseen, planned costs of home ownership and maintenance. Why, then, does health insurance pay for foreseen, planned costs of your body’s maintenance? More importantly, how have recent trends taken advantage of our addiction to health insurance, and the expectation that it will pay for everything?

Unwrapping the Benefits to Your Plan

On May 4, 2023
On January 1, 2022, the No Surprises Act (NSA) officially went into effect, affording protection to patients against surprise medical bills on certain types of claims, including out-of-network emergency services, ancillary out-of-network professional services rendered at in-network facilities, and air ambulance services. While the NSA has spared countless patients from potentially devastating balance bills, its complex and ever-evolving dispute resolution process has created headaches for plans and providers alike. Luckily, Phia Unwrapped includes NSA support services during the Open Negotiation period and, if necessary, Independent Dispute Resolution.

Price Transparency: A Chief Concern at SIIA’s Recent Kanas City Forum

On March 9, 2023
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – In the opening presentation of the SIIA Price Transparency Forum held at the Kanas City Marriott Downtown last month, SIIA’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations, Ryan Work, made a bold prediction: if healthcare costs remain on this decades-long rising trajectory it could lead to the demise of employer-based healthcare as we know it.

Hospital Prices: Fully Transparent or Still Somewhat Opaque?

On February 23, 2023
In the throes of the first pandemic winter, still months before coronavirus vaccines would roll out in earnest, the Hospital Price Transparency Rule went into effect. It was a promising development in the world of healthcare cost containment—hospitals were now obligated to provide a single, machine-readable digital file containing standard charges for all services and items provided by the facility.

SPD Payment Limitations Under the No Surprises Act

On February 9, 2023
Ah, the Plan Document! It’s the “supreme law of the land” governing the health plan’s benefits. Would that make ERISA the Declaration of Independence of self-funding, maybe? Freedom from the tyranny of state or federal laws that attempt to make their own rules for the plan rather than letting the plan govern itself?