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Reports: Zyrtec launches virtual pet-walking Facebook app

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Johnson & Johnson division McNeil Consumer Healthcare has launched a new marketing campaign around the allergy medication Zyrtec, according to published reports.

Marketing Daily reported that a new app on Zyrtec’s Facebook page allowed users to superimpose their pets over an animated depiction of a park and thus take the pets for virtual walks.

The "Zyrtec Furtec" app was launched a year and a half ago and includes the slogan, "Allergies got you stuck inside? Upload your pet and go for a walk!" along with animated representations of a dog, cat, rabbit, hamster and goldfish.


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Study predicts 6 million added to Medicaid rolls with implementation of health reform

BY Alaric DeArment

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The healthcare reform law will add 6 million Americans to Medicaid and 21 million to affordable insurance exchanges, according to a new study.

Truven Health Analytics drew data from the Truven Health Insurance Coverage Estimates database, which includes Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance enrollment rates and geographic, population, demographic and other data, analyzing it to estimate bottom-line effects when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act takes effect next year. Among other findings, the study, titled "Coverage Expansion Under the ACA: Challenges for Government, Health Plans, and Providers," estimated that Medicaid enrollment would increase from 2012’s 47 million to 53 million in 2016.

"The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last June to uphold the individual mandate of the ACA, but prohibit penalties for states that elect not to expand Medicaid, created uncertainty about the volume and health risk profiles of newly insured patients that can be expected starting in 2014," Truven president and CEO Mike Boswood said. "However, by leveraging the power of big data and statistical modeling techniques, we are able to make detailed projections that bring much needed clarity to states, health plans and providers on the changing dynamics of the soon-to-be-insured population so that they may plan accordingly."

Other findings included an estimate that New York and Los Angeles would see the largest absolute increase in Medicaid rolls, and large increases would also occur in Houston, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. Meanwhile, newly insured patients would show lower reported use of services, but that this would change once they were insured as the number of uninsured Americans would drop from 49 million in 2012 to 27 million in 2016.

 

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Independence Blue Cross sponsors ‘Ask the Pharmacist’ seminars for seniors

BY Alaric DeArment

PHILADELPHIA — A lot is said about how pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals, and one health insurer is taking advantage of this by sponsoring a series of special seminars for elderly people.

Independence Blue Cross said it would sponsor the "Ask the Pharmacist" seminars throughout the Philadelphia area about potential medication risks to help safeguard their health. Questions seniors frequently ask pharmacists concern how medications are taken, what kinds of foods and other drugs they should avoid when taking certain medications, whether generics are available and which Medicare Part D plans they should use, IBC said.

The seminars are part of the insurer’s free Wellness Program Education Series, which previously covered nutrition and fall prevention. Nearly 40% of people age 60 years and older take five or more medications, and about one-third experience serious side effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It’s more important than ever for people of all ages to be active participants in their own health care, but especially for senior who are highly vulnerable to medication errors," IBC VP Medicare sales and marketing Robert Smith said. "Older adults may find they have questions about the medicines they are taking or some confusion about where to go with concerns on topics ranging from medication side effects to what drugs are covered under their prescription plan and how to enroll in Medicare Part D."

 

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