Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

COVID-19 Vaccine Updates, Premium Rises in 2020 Experts Warn Against State Vaccine Reviews

Several states and the District of Columbia have indicated they’ll perform independent reviews of any approved COVID-19 vaccine. With concerns that political interference might be rushing or distorting the vaccine approval process within the FDA, states including New York and California have already begun convening panels to review vaccine study data.

Experts warn that the FDA’s integrity has not been compromised, and that additional studies by individual states could undermine confidence in public health. Doctors from professional organizations and departments of health told Kaiser Health News that safeguards keep the FDA from acting outside of the best scientific data or using a lower scientific standard.

Dr. Peter Marks, head of the FDA’s vaccine approval division, has said the FDA reviewers are determined to “keep our hands over our ears to the noise that’s coming in from all sides and keep our eyes on the prize.”

HSS Secretary Predicts 100M Doses of COVID Vaccine by Year’s End

Alex Azar, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, has suggested that the U.S. will have enough doses of COVID-19 vaccine to cover the “especially vulnerable population” by the end of 2020. At an update on the vaccine development process on October 8th, he also said there would be enough to “cover every American by March or April 2020.”

According to Azar, manufacturing is already progressing on all six of the vaccines that the White House’s Operation Warp Speed is supporting. None of these vaccines have exited the trial stage yet.

Annual Premiums Rise for Families

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a survey on employer-sponsored premium costs, finding that the cost of 2020 premiums rose 4% for families over 2019. Annual premiums now average $21,342. The survey also found employer-sponsored premiums and deductibles have risen faster than worker wages over the past decade.

The study showed large jumps in deductible costs from 2010. In ten years, covered workers who have deductibles in their plan jumped 70%, to a total of 83% of workers in 2020. That deductible jumped from an average of $917 in 2010 to $1644 in 2020.