According to CNN, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America has agreed to discount medications for Medicare beneficiaries who face high out-of-pocket expenses when their benefits reach a gap in coverage. The deal was negotiated by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana and subsequently praised by Present Obama as a “turning point” in health care reform.
The President further elaborated saying “The agreement reached today to lower prescription drug costs for seniors will be an important part of the legislation I expect to sign into law in October.”
The pharmaceutical group agreed to a 50% discount to most beneficiaries for brand-name medicines purchased during a Medicare part D gap in coverage that costs senior citizens between $2,700 and $6,100 a year. The agreement will result in $80 billion in Medicare drug savings over the next 10 years.
On a related matter according to the Associated Press, President Obama said health insurers will continue to profit with a government option in place. He explained that even though insurers will make less profit per patient, they will make it up since they will have more paying customers when the uninsured sign up for coverage. Needless to say, insurers still believe they’ll go out of business.
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According to MedPage Today on Monday, President Obama announced an additional $313 billion in cost-cuts to help pay for his universal healthcare plan. Most of this amount will come from reducing Medicare payments to hospitals.
A White House fact sheet outlines $110 billion could be saved if Medicare payment rates were updated to reflect increases in hospital operations productivity, and an additional $106 billion could be saved by cutting subsidies to hospitals that pay for treating the uninsured – a group that the administration believes will no longer exist if universal coverage exists.
President Obama also stated in his weekly radio address that more savings could come from significantly reducing Medicare Part D. He also proposed an incentive plan that ties Medicare reimbursement to outcomes, rather than volume of services.
The grand total of cost-cutting measures now comes to $960 billion over 10 years – still short of the estimated $1.2 trillion cost of Sen. Man Baucus’ plan, as well as other government plans proposed.
On a related note, the Galen Institute has a very interesting article that looks at the history of Medicare to see what is in store with a government plan. GI comes to the conclusion that “Americans will lose their private coverage and come under the government’s wing. Costs will continue to soar, and health quality will decline.” The article states that Medicare is now at least $37.8 trillion in the red and will run out of money in eight years.
Will history repeat itself?
Check out the article here.
Over the past week health insurance reform has risen to the forefront of both the House and Senate. According to an Associated Press article, House Democrats are drafting health care legislation that includes a penalty fee for anyone who refuses to purchase affordable health insurance, as well as implementing a new tax on certain health insurance benefits provided by employers to cover the cost of the uninsured.
Furthermore, this preliminary legislation proposes a "health exchange" system where individuals and small businesses would be able to purchase coverage that includes a government-mandated minimum benefit. Additionally, no applicant would be rejected for pre-existing conditions, nor be charged a higher premium. On the Medicare front, House Democrats are considering further reducing payments to home health care, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, hospitals, and others to help cover costs of spreading insurance to everyone.
In the Senate on Tuesday, Senate Democrats led by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) proposed a comprehensive bill that signaled the start of a battle for determining if America adopts universal coverage, according to CNN. The main issue that will be argued here is whether a "government-run option" would put current insurance companies at a competitive disadvantage. To address the concerns of Republicans, the proposal maintains the ability of Americans to choose their coverage and doctors.
President Obama has asked Congress to send him a health care bill to sign by October. He continues to insist on a government-run option, saying it would help consumers and keep costs down. Today, Obama will increase his presence on the issue by discussing it at a town hall meeting in Green Bay, Wisconsin. With all the ideas floating around Washington D.C. these days, it looks like our government officials will have to work overtime to meet Obama's deadline.
In the June 2009 issue of Senior Market Advisor, the magazine has a special feature entitled "100 Best Sales and Marketing Ideas." The ideas are all generated by producers such as yourself, so most of the ideas are probably applicable to your situation. If you go through all 100 ideas, you will see that they all can be summed up into 5 methods that can successfully grow your business.
1. Networking: The vast majority of the ideas are related to networking, most likely because this is the most effective method of growing your business. Hosting workshops, seminars, church meetings, and other events were said to be a great method of reaching large groups of new customers. Getting to know and partnering with other professionals in related fields, such as CPAs, lawyers, doctors, and so forth is another effective method for getting in touch with potential customers.
2. New Technology: With more and more seniors and baby-boomers utilizing the latest technology, many of the respondents suggested that having a Web site is a must, but that to really succeed, you need to implement SEO to be found on the search engines, as well as market your business through major networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook. Also be on the lookout for Internet applications that can streamline your business process such as salesforce.com.
3. Old Technology: As great as all the new technology is, it alone does not make a successful business. Some of the agents state that nothing is more effective at generating business than picking up the phone and calling (we entirely support this argument). Direct mail programs are also still said to be very effective at generating leads, as the majority of the senior market still isn't online. Additionally, faxing is still a quick, simple way for transmitting certain types of documents, especially those requiring written signatures.
4. Relationship Management: Many of the ideas mentioned were related to managing the relationships you have with existing customers. This is vital, as retaining customers costs five times less than acquiring new customers (quality management principle). Basically, you should call your customers at regular intervals to see how they are doing and to educate them on new products. Being a good listener was an idea that came up in the feature several times. There was also a common theme of treating potential clients like existing ones. Even if they don't want your business, they most likely know someone who does.
5. Education: Many of the respondents stressed the importance of continuing education, both formal and informal. We agree as one of the fastest ways to lose business is to pretend to know something you don't. Knowing the latest trends in products, technology, market trends, and so forth is an essential ingredient to success. Establishing yourself as an expert source in your network or community can generate many leads by itself. Another common theme was that sharing knowledge freely without asking for anything in return adds to the credibility of your business.
If you have the time, we recommend reading the feature. Though most of the ideas are techniques you already know, you may just find one or two new nuggets of knowledge that can spark the next great idea for your business.
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