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 Cases Tumble Across Nation

The United States is seeing a massive drop in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths — to numbers not seen since June 2020. The seven-day average for new cases has dropped below 30,000. At the pandemic’s height in January, the seven-day average reached more than 230,000 cases. The Wall Street Journal reports that four states have vaccinated more than half of their populations against Covid-19, and nationally 39% of the population are fully vaccinated. Health experts urge continued vigilance against local flare-ups of Covid-19, including the potential for severe variants.

Despite recent openings of entertainment, shopping, dining, and other venues in many states due to dropping rates and increased vaccinations, the Journal also reported that unvaccinated people are leading spending gains in the U.S. economy. Spending at entertainment venues rose 20% amongst consumers who say they aren’t planning to get the vaccine, versus 10% among vaccinated consumers.

OptumRx Finds Uptick in Pharmacy Fraud

OptumRx, a pharmacy benefit manager, identified fraudulent activity to the tune of $300 million in recovered funds in 2020. The company removed more than one hundred pharmacies from their network. A spokesperson said common fraud scenarios included pharmacies utilizing telemarketers to call patients, ask if they were experiencing symptoms, and then billing the patient’s insurance for unnecessary drugs. Pharmacies also took advantage of loosened refill requirements enacted to help patients cope with the pandemic. OptumRx deployed the use of AI to track potential fraud in 2020.

Bright Health Insurance Goes Public

The startup Bright Health has filed plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. The company operates in 99 markets across 14 states, and has about 600,000 members across commercial and Medicare Advantage plans. Bright Health’s business model has included tech platforms and co-branding with providers, working with a single health system in each market.