Trending News Today: Employers Take Action to Lower Health Insurance Costs

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Companies are increasingly trying to avoid passing the burden of higher health insurance costs to their employees by addressing the underlying reasons for spending, according to The Wall Street Journal. Some companies have bypassed insurers by negotiating directly with hospitals, while others have been offering their own clinics, according to the article. Other programs that aim to improve social factors, such as housing, have generated savings, the report noted.

Experts debated the benefits of an experimental blood disease drug manufactured by Acceleron Pharma and licensed to Celgene at a press conference during the American Society of Hematology annual meeting, according to a report in STAT. The drug, luspatercept, treats myelodysplastic syndrome, a disease of the bone marrow similar to cancer, and beta-thalassemia, a rare inherited disorder that decreases the production of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin, according to the article. Luspatercept is projected to be approved in late-2019 based on the findings from a pair of separate phase 3 trials that showed statistically significant reductions in the need for blood transfusions, the report noted.

Enrollment in private Medicare Advantage plans among older Americans has gotten a boost from the Trump administration, which has promoted predictable costs and extra benefits with the plans in emails sent to millions of beneficiaries, according to The New York Times. The administration predicts approximately 37% of 60 million Medicare beneficiaries will enroll in Medicare Advantage plans next year, a 28% increase from 5 years ago, according to the report. Although administration officials said they are not attempting to steer patients to Medicare Advantage plans, the subject lines of recent emails carry messages such as, “Get more benefits for your money,” and “See if you can save money with Medicare Advantage,” the NYT noted.