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FDA approves new weightloss drug
Plus: Childhood vaccine exemptions are up by how much?!
Good morning and happy Friday. Welcome to the Friday Pulse Check from Fulcrum Strategies.
In the news:
Another weight loss drug receives approval from FDA
This week the Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to Eli Lilly and its new Ozempic and Wegovy competitor, Zepbound. Zepbound contains the exact same active ingredient as Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro (tirzepatide). Mounjaro is approved for diabetes treatment and Zepbound is approved for weight loss. It will sell for $1060 per month, coming in just cheaper than Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy. Read more in Bloomberg. 🔒
LIVE drug manufacturer stock prices:
Instacart to accept FSA and HSA payments in app
Grocery delivery service Instacart announced this week that they will begin accepting Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts as payment methods on their popular app. The company said in a statement that this will make it easier for customers since they will no longer have to upload receipts to their FSA or HSA companies to receive reimbursement. Instacart works with thousands of grocery stores and retail pharmacies across the country and already accepts SNAP as a payment method for eligible products. Read more from Instacart.
LIVE Instacart stock price: CART 0.00%↑
CDC: Childhood vaccine exemptions at all-time high
A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention details a record-setting high of childhood vaccination exemptions. In the 2022-23 school year, the number of exceptions nationally spiked from 0.4% of students to 3%. In ten states (Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin) the exemption rate exceeded 5%. Idaho’s rate was the highest with 12% of kindergartners receiving an exemption. The CDC did not elaborate as to why a spike in exemption rates occurred, but those of us who have lived in the US longer than the last 10 seconds know that polarization, especially around medical issues, is rampant. Read more from the CDC.
Other articles of interest:
California Watch: Systems eyes bankrupt hospital takeover - Becker’s Hospital Review
HIPAA Violation of the Week: Maine says 1.3 million affected by MOVEit hack - The HIPAA Journal
Cigna may be getting out of its Medicare Advantage business
This week on the FLATLINING Podcast from Fulcrum Strategies, Ron Howrigon and I discussed this breaking news from Reuters. If true, it would be one of the largest carriers to get out of what is generally perceived as a profitable line of business.
It is so profitable for other carriers, in fact, that organizations like Humana (HUM 0.00%↑) are dropping their commercial plans and only selling Medicare and Medicaid products. It is so profitable that Aetna (CVS 0.00%↑), the various Blues, UnitedHealthcare (UNH 0.00%↑), Kaiser Permanente, and a handful of new smaller carriers are expanding or getting into the Medicare Advantage business.
Ron, a former Cigna executive, explained that the healthcare giant has always had issues when trying to roll out its Medicare plan and was at one point even forbidden to sell its products by CMS.
All this talk about getting in and out of Medicare plans paints a larger picture of our healthcare system. Medicare Advantage plans were designed to take some of the weight off of the federal government for a benefit that was promised to American seniors. It is largely popular among its members and does provide plenty of benefits to its members.
However, the frequency and the nonchalance of starting and stopping Medicare Advantage products demonstrate that these companies are more interested in what is profitable to them than the patients they serve.
I say that neutrally. That is the point of those companies of these for-profit, publically-traded companies. Many Americans have these companies in their retirement portfolios and they do have a responsibility to their owners and shareholders to do well. They are not charities.
They also have an ethical responsibility to make sure that their patients aren’t caught in the middle. Since Medicare Advantage is fairly highly regulated, I have no doubt that notices will go to the patients who will no longer be able to renew their Medicare Advantage plans. But it would be great to see them also provide instructions on how to sign up for a new plan before those seniors call a 1-800 number they see on TV.
Check out the FLATLINING Podcast from Fulcrum Strategies this week for more on this news about Cigna. You can listen wherever you get your podcast or listen on YouTube:
LIVE Cigna stock price: CI 0.00%↑
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