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 Testing Guidelines Revised

In a new reversal, the CDC has updated their most recent guidelines on who needs a test for COVID-19. The official recommendations now call for testing for anyone who has been in close contact with anyone who has been found to have the novel coronavirus. Having the virus does not necessarily mean the individual shows any symptoms of COVID-19. This reversal brings the CDC guidelines for testing back in line with their original recommendations, put in place at the beginning of the pandemic.

The previous guidelines, set in August, were put in place after a White House task force recommendation stating that those without symptoms “do not necessarily need a test.” Health and medical professionals criticized this stipulation. CDC estimates that up to 40% of people infected with the novel coronavirus do not show symptoms of COVID-19, but can still infect others with the virus. The CDC also says close contacts of infected people should self-quarantine for fourteen days—even if they obtain a negative test.

Hospital Costs for Private Health Plans Average 247% Higher Than Medicare

A study from RAND Corporation has found private plans are paying hospital costs as high as 325% higher than Medicare. FierceHealthcare interviewed the study’s lead author, Christopher Whaley, who says that employers don’t have easy access to price data. “There’s just been this kind of ecosystem that’s evolved around the employer market that’s made it hard for employers to get information about prices,” Whaley said. The study concludes traditional pricing models need to be reworked if employers want to cut the plan rates they’re paying for hospital care.

Coalition Releases “Wasteful Drugs” List Aimed at Cutting Costs for Consumers and Employers

The Pacific Business Group on Health and researchers from Johns Hopkins University have released a guidebook to cutting so-called “wasteful drugs” from prescription drug benefits. The drugs on the list all have cheaper alternatives. In one stunning example shared by Bloomberg, a California health plan switched from a 1000-mg dosage of a drug which cost $352 per prescription, to two 500-mg doses of the same drug, costing less than $13.

Researchers stated that hundreds of drugs could be replaced by generics or other alternatives, saving as much as 96%. Drugmakers are pushing back. A spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America told Bloomberg they preferred to use the rebate system to help with drug costs. Read the full story on Bloomberg.

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