What We're Reading: Rx Spending Slowed; a HDHP Experiment; and Calif. Responds to Zika

Express Scripts Reports on Prescription Drug Spending

Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts found that spending for members slowed to 3.8% in 2016, reported Reuters. At the same time, prices for brand-name drugs increased nearly 11%. Express Scripts said it saved members $1.3 billion in 2016 amid increased scrutiny over rising drug prices. The pharmaceutical industry has been under fire, with President Donald Trump saying they are “getting away with murder.” Recently, some pharmaceutical companies have taken proactive steps: Merck has become the latest company to volunteer more information about pricing practices following Allergan’s announcement in September 2016 that it would limit price hikes.

Health Policy Expert Experiments With HDHPs

Ashish K. Jha, MD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, decided to conduct an experiment: he enrolled his family in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). In an opinion piece for STAT, Jha described his experience with a HDHP and what he has learned about how they do and don’t work. Jha’s family is now in its second year under the plan, which makes them responsible for paying for the first $6000 of health expenses. Even as a physician who is far more knowledgeable about health plans than the average American, Jha explained he found it difficult and stressful to be a healthcare consumer and make cost-savvy decisions.

California Prepares for a New Reality With the Zika Virus

Although there have been no cases of locally transmitted Zika virus in California, the state is preparing for battle. Los Angeles Times reported that California’s mosquito-control and health officials are expecting to deal with Zika every summer until a vaccine is ready, which may not be for years. Mosquito control is becoming the first line of defense, and so far the most successful tactic has been going house-to-house looking for standing water that the Aedes mosquitoes can breed in.