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!

Healthcare Costs Top $15K in 2021

Healthcare costs for employers are on the rise. In 2021, large employers expect to spend more than $15,000 per employee, according to a survey from the Business Group on Health.

While health spending has been projected to rise by 5% per year for several years now, this new data outperforms that projection slightly. Reasons cited include new commitments to telehealth services, improved mental health benefits, and delays in preventive and elective medicine caused by the pandemic.

A strong increase in mental health resources is expected in 2021. Large companies like Starbucks are making mental health a priority, with access to apps like Headspace and mental healthcare through Lyra Health. The survey found that in 2021, 88% of employers surveyed would be offering mental health support.

Government Authorizes Plasma Treatment for COVID-19

Over the weekend, President Trump announced there would be emergency authorization to use convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients. This is not the same as a full approval by the FDA, according to the AP. However, the emergency authorization can make it easier to administer the treatment in some cases.

FDA chief scientist Denise Hinton said in a letter that the plasma treatment “should not be considered a new standard of care.” The use of convalescent plasma as a treatment lacks significant data and clinical trial findings, although some studies are underway. “This is a promising therapy that has not been fully established,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, of Johns Hopkins University’s school of public health.

Uber Health Launches Prescription Drug Delivery

Uber’s non-emergency medical transport service, Uber Health, has announced a partnership with NimbleRX which integrates prescription drug delivery on Uber’s rideshare platform. The service has launched in Dallas and Seattle.

Along with the rise in telehealth medical appointments, retail pharmacies have seen a rising demand for delivery. Uber Health CEO Dan Trigub has cited prescription delivery as just one facet of the growing need for remote healthcare support. “We haven’t even touched on meal delivery, pharma delivery, those are all things we’re thinking about,” Trigub said at an October conference, according to FierceHealthcare.

Other groups are also working on prescription delivery from retail pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, and UPS — along with a slate of digital pharmacy startups.