Report: Many Americans have yet to get flu shot amid reports of partial protection
NEW YORK — There’s concerning news about this flu season as, according to a HealthDay News report, fewer than half of Americans still haven’t gotten their flu shot.
According to the report, some people are forgoing the vaccine this year because of reports that it could provide only partial protection this season.
“That's a big concern," Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, chief of the Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Immunization Section at Public Health – Seattle and King County, Washington state, was quoted as saying. "We've had many people report that they've heard the vaccine isn't effective so they aren't going to bother this year, or they're questioning if they should bother."
On a positive note, the number of pregnant women who had received the flu shot is on the rise. According to the article, as of early November, 43.5% of expecting mothers had received the shot. In years past, those vaccination rates were routinely less than 20%.
Report: Google studies color effect on consumer purchasing decisions
Safeway, Cigna conduct first reference based-pricing study focused on lab services
BLOOMFIELD, Conn. and PLEASANTON, Calif. — A study conducted by Cigna and Safeway, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Managed Care, shows that reference-based pricing can help control lab costs when individuals are supported with education and an online shopping tool.
The study, “Reference-based Pricing: An Evidenced-based Solution for Lab Services Shopping,” is the first published reference-based study to focus on lab services. Previous published studies have focused on the application of reference-based pricing to pharmaceuticals.
Reference-based pricing is a benefit design that sets a maximum contribution (reference price) from the health plan to pay for a particular service; in this case, lab services such as a lipid panel, comprehensive metabolic panel or prostate-specific antigen test. Employers see this type of benefit design as a way to incent employees to consider the price of services when making care decisions. Employees reap a savings when they choose services at or below the reference price. If they choose services above the reference price, they are responsible for the additional cost.
Only services that are considered appropriate for a benefit of this type were included in this pilot. For example, emergency care, sensitive diagnoses such as cancer and mental health, and services best performed during office visits such as a rapid strep test were excluded.
“We already had strong evidence through our RxTE program that reference-based pricing in the pharmaceutical space could dramatically increase selection of therapeutically equivalent lower cost options. Now we see that reference-based pricing has promise in doing the same for certain medical services,” said Kent Bradley, SVP and chief medical officer of Safeway.
The study involved two groups of employees enrolled in a Cigna health plan so that the researchers could draw credible conclusions about the effectiveness of the benefit design. The first group comprised Safeway employees who had a reference-based pricing benefit for lab services. The second group comprised employees of various employers who did not have this benefit but lived in the same community and received the same lab services as the Safeway employees.
Members of the first group had access to an online shopping tool that showed information about the cost, location and type of lab services in their geographic area based on the application of the reference-based pricing benefit. They also received educational information about this benefit. The result: Individuals with the reference-based pricing benefit demonstrated a 20% increase in selection of lab services below the reference price compared to those without the benefit (69% versus 57%).
“This study is an important first step, but we can’t conclude from it that the benefit alone drives the greatest behavior change,” said Jackie Aube, Cigna's VP for product. “Though not specifically demonstrated through this study, we do know that communication and education are essential to all of Cigna's consumer-directed efforts. Our hypothesis is that it is a combination of benefit structure, with effective education and messaging, that presents the greatest opportunity to change behavior.”
“We looked at very early data for this analysis,” said Safeway’s Dr. Bradley. “The understanding of reference pricing along with adoption of online tools to inform the consumer has increased significantly since the early days of 2011. Thoughtful application of reference pricing warrants consideration as a mechanism to improve value in health care and help individuals reduce their costs for certain services.”