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As a nation, we spend over $5 trillion a year to feed our bodies.[1] That’s the value of food sold each year in the United States through retail and food service including nearly 38,000 supermarkets, an estimated 150,000 convenience stores, and over one million restaurants. The U.S. food industry is immense, touching every person in the nation every day.

We then spend trillions more each year taking care of ourselves. The U.S. healthcare industry is massive, projected to be over $5 trillion a year by 2025 and representing an estimated 20% of the country’s GDP.[2]

So we have two titanic industries that touch each consumer… and yet food and healthcare are largely disconnected. Plus, with 40,000+ unique products in a typical grocery store, the choices are overwhelming to the average consumer trying to shop for foods to appease any number of nutrition-sensitive health conditions.

Personalized Wellness

At ScriptSave, our vision of personalized wellness aligns managed care organizations, healthcare providers, employers, food manufacturers and retailers to improve and maintain the wellness of each individual. The power of the personalized wellness vision lies in the economic benefits provided to each member of this ecosystem.

hippocrates quote - food - scriptsave wellrx blog image

The personalized wellness food-health supply chain begins with the individual consumer, an understanding of his or her health condition, and food products beneficial to that condition. As the source of food, retailers become, in a sense, an extension of personalized healthcare, and a trusted partner in wellness for each individual. What better loyalty for a retailer than helping customers live healthier lives?

Public Health Implications

The implications from a public health perspective are enormous. 70% of Americans are on at least one prescription drug and 60% of the U.S. population is dealing with at least one chronic health condition. Our aim is to evaluate food products based on their nutritional attributes and provide insight to possible grocery alternatives that are more favorably aligned with each shopper’s personal health and wellness goals.  Our vision is no less ambitious than to improve health outcomes for millions of individuals.

ScriptSave is mobilizing key participants to realize the Personalized Wellness vision. Purchase validation of beneficial products creates a powerful feedback loop:

  • Improves future recommendations
  • Powers performance-based incentives provided by managed care organizations
  • Helps providers drive improved outcomes
  • Provides brand manufacturers powerful insight to shopper needs

holistic food focus on health - scriptsave wellrx blog image

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

It is only recently that artificial intelligence data and technologies are available to personalize, at a product level, food recommendations that are beneficial to each individual. Deconstructing nutrition information to countless data attributes enables powerful linkage between health conditions and the hundreds of thousands of food products available across the United States. What makes it all work is the ability to convey personalized food guidance to the individual via the smartphone in their hand while in the store aisle.

“Food is the area consumers really want to deal with the most,” states Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, health economist for Think Health. “Nobody really wants to take medicine. People would rather project-manage health through food as prescription.”[3] A recent meeting with a physician group highlighted the shortcomings of efforts to date as doctors explained patients forget nearly everything within 24 hours of leaving the office.

Perhaps what is most powerful about the personalized wellness vision is that everyone across the food-healthcare supply chain benefits from improved health outcomes and quality of life for the individual. Retailers gain stronger customer relationships as they come to be viewed as true partners in wellness, and consumer goods brand manufacturers have a path to redemption from the processed foods abyss.

About ScriptSave:

For more than two decades, ScriptSave has been closing the gaps in healthcare and prescription coverage with innovative savings programs for the uninsured, under-insured, and insured. Headquartered in Tucson, ScriptSave solutions, analytics, and unique expertise save consumers money and increase medication adherence, while attracting and retaining loyal, profitable customers, members, and patients for our clients. ScriptSave is a member of the MedImpact, Inc. family of companies. For more information on ScriptSave WellRx – Personalized Wellness, go to www.wellrxplus.com. Follow us: @SSWellRx (Twitter), ScriptSave WellRx (Facebook).

References:

[1] “U.S. Food Retail Industry – Statistics & Facts”, Statista, www.statista.com/topics/1660/food-retail/

[2] Mark Hagland, “Medicare Actuaries: U.S. Healthcare Spending to Soar to $5.631 Trillion and 20.1 Percent of GDP in 2025”, www.healthcare-informatics.com, (July 18, 2016)

[3] Drug Store News, Future Trends: Self care, wellness shift to drive innovation in new, emerging health segments, www.drugstorenews.com, (August 18, 2017)


This blog post has been excerpted from the ScriptSave WellRx Personalized Wellness Whitepaper. You can read the full whitepaper content at Winsight Media:

http://www.winsightgrocerybusiness.com/wellness/health-wellness-gets-personal

http://www.winsightgrocerybusiness.com/wellness/personalized-wellness-virtual-dietitian

http://www.winsightgrocerybusiness.com/wellness/healthcare-food-align-benefit-individual

 

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obesity in the U.S. - scriptsave wellrx blog image

by Randall Flores, PharmD Candidate 2019
University of Arizona

In the past few decades, there has been an alarming and steady increase in obesity rates in the U.S. This affects people of all races and ages. More Americans live with obesity than breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and HIV all together. The medical community has been aware of the rising epidemic for many years, yet its response has not been effective at addressing the problem.

What is a Healthy Weight (BMI)?

Obese or overweight is defined as weight that is higher than what is considered a healthy weight for a given height measured as Body Mass Index (BMI)1. The levels of weight measured by BMI are listed below:

  • BMI < 18.5 = underweight
  • BMI 18.5 to <25 = within normal weight
  • BMI 25 to <30 = overweight
  • BMI >30 = obese

The Facts About Obesity

With an estimated population of 328.73 million people in the U.S.,6 the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% between 2015-2016, affecting nearly 93.3 million people.1 The estimated health care cost of obesity was $147 billion in 2008 which was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. Obesity seems to have a racial/genetic link as Hispanic and non-Hispanic blacks had the highest prevalence with 47% and 46.8% respectively.2 Much of the obesity seen in the U.S. starts at a younger age and transcends into adulthood with a prevalence of 18.5% (ages 2-19) nearly affecting 13.7 million children.2 Similar to adults, obesity in children is more common in certain populations; Hispanics having the highest prevalence (25.8%) followed by non-Hispanic blacks (22%).2

Obesity-Related Health Conditions

The most common obesity-related diseases that result in premature deaths include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancers such as colorectal, pancreatic, and endometrial cancer.1,4 People who have obesity are also at increased risk for serious diseases including the following;3

High blood pressure Low quality of life
High levels of bad cholesterol &
low levels of good cholesterol
Sleep apnea & breathing problems
Gallbladder disease Mental illness, depression, anxiety, &
other mental disorders
Osteoarthritis Body pain & difficulty with physical functioning

A Push for Prevention

The epidemic of overweight and obese citizens in the nation is complex and has no simple solution. There are many factors that play a role in obesity. Due to its complexity, the epidemic of obesity needs to be approached through multiple outlets, with tactics in local, state, and federal organizations as well as professional health organizations.5 The long-term goal to decreasing obesity is shifting to norms of a healthy lifestyle, which include healthy eating and regular physical activity.5 Healthcare should also shift more of its efforts towards preventing obesity. Another key player in reversing the obesity epidemic is implementing community efforts that support a healthy lifestyle, such as food services, schools, childhood care, and clinics/hospitals.

Obesity and being overweight affects millions of people in our nation and worldwide. Obesity is associated with an increased risk of many serious diseases that are otherwise preventable. We must shift our efforts to the epidemic of obesity to halt its progression and strive towards a healthier future for younger generations to come.

 

References:

  1. Adult Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
  2. Children Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/index.html
  3. Adult Obesity Causes & Consequences | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/index.html
  4. Obesity and Cancer. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/obesity-fact-sheet
  5. Strategies to Prevent Obesity. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/strategies/index.html
  6. S. and World Population Clock. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/popclock/

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pill boxes medication adherence

If your doctor has prescribed a medication for you, you want to be sure you’re getting the most benefit from that drug. Medication adherence is important to get the most benefit from the medications used to treat your condition. The causes of non-adherence, when a patient either accidentally or knowingly does not take medications as prescribed, can be complex. Non-adherence is often the result of cost; patients who simply can’t afford their medications. However, good habits and a good understanding of the medication can also be a big part of adherence, and can help you stick to your medication schedule.

Medication Adherence

World Health Organization defined adherence as “the extent to which a person’s behavior – taking medication, following a diet, and/or executing lifestyle changes, corresponds with agreed recommendations from a health care provider.” The concept that healthcare professionals manage medical conditions is true only in case of hospitalized patients. The bottom line is, medications don’t work in patients who don’t take them, or don’t take them as prescribed.

In an outpatient setting, the healthcare professionals’ role is limited to providing products (medications and/or monitoring devices) and educational tools. Taking medications, on time and properly, is left up to the patient or their in-home caregiver. There are several techniques to help you remember to take your medications as prescribed and manage their own medical condition. As the patient, you have the ultimate control for safe and effective treatment.

Two Steps to Medication Adherence
Adherence to medication can be achieved in two simple steps; understanding and behavior changes. Understanding includes knowledge of your medical condition and how your prescribed medication can help to manage it. Here are a few helpful websites:

  1. https://www.patienteducationcenter.org/ – The health-related content on the website is provided by Harvard Medical School. Medical conditions are listed alphabetically from A to Z.
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/ – Produced by the National Library of Medicine, provides reliable information on medical conditions, drugs, herbs, and supplements.
  3. https://www.wellrx.com/ – ScriptSave® WellRx allows you to search for the lowest prices on prescription medications at nearby pharmacies, and provides overviews of the medications. Our Ask a Pharmacist phone line lets you talk to a pharmacist about prescription medicines, dosing, or medication interaction questions. Registered members have access to a free suite of personal wellness tools in the Medicine Chest, including:
  • Ask a Pharmacist
  • Pill Reminders
  • Refill Reminders
  • Medication Information (in both English and Spanish)
  • Medication Videos
  • Mood-tracking (to review side effects, etc.)
  • Price-check and Pharmacy Locator

Behavioral changes mean finding ways to stay on track with your medication schedule. Finding the right tool or a combination of methods that fit best your lifestyle is key to medication adherence. Here are some ways to stay on track:

  1. Integrate your medication to your daily routine, such as brushing your teeth or watching your favorite TV show.
  2. Set one/multiple daily alarm using a clock, mobile phone, or computer.
  3. Ask a family member and/or friend give you a call remainder.
  4. Pill boxes are another way to organize your scheduled medications. Pill boxes are available in different forms that allow you/your caregiver to fill them daily, weekly, or even monthly.
  5. Medication charts can be developed by own or with the help of a healthcare professional. Keep an updated chart with medication names, dose, when you take them, and what are you taking them for. You can refer to the chart if you get confused with your medications.
  6. Plan ahead for medication refills and mark a calendar to make sure you always have your medication when necessary.
  7. If you have a smart phone, the free ScriptSave WellRx app can be used to remind you to take your medications, refill your medications, and track how the medications make you feel.

We hope these tips on medication adherence have helped. Download our free app from the iOS app store or the Google Play Store, and get registered to take advantage of our free medication adherence tools. If you’re struggling to afford your medications, visit www.WellRx.com to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you. You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!


For the best Rx price on
prescription medications,
visit www.WellRx.com.
Compare prices at more than
62,000 pharmacies nationwide.

percent opting out of healthcare graph If you’re a ScriptSave® WellRx member, you probably know only too well what it means to face high out-of-pocket costs for prescription medications. We hear this message from members every day and so it didn’t come as a huge surprise when we read details from a Bankrate.com survey.

One quarter of surveyed Americans report that they, or someone in their family, have skipped vital medical care because of the cost. The Bankrate Money Plus Survey also revealed that more than half of those who responded worry about not being able to afford health insurance.

Health Care Anxiety

The survey findings come at a time of rising healthcare costs and huge increases in some health insurance premiums, while increasing insurance deductibles further weigh on the issue. In the survey, 56% say they’re either very or somewhat worried that they might not be able to afford health coverage in the future.

percent concerned about healthcare coverage graph

High-deductible Dilemma – An Expensive Healthcare Punt

High-deductible plans and HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) have been central in the healthcare debate. Such plans hype lower monthly premiums, as compared to traditional insurance. For many, this ends up being little more than an expensive punt (what gets ‘saved’ in premium costs comes back to bite many patients in the form of much higher out-of-pocket expenses when they submit a claim to their insurance provider).

In 2016 the average annual premium for employer-sponsored health insurance was $6,800 for single coverage in a preferred provider organization (PPO), according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

By comparison, the average annual premium for a high-deductible health plan available through an employer was somewhat more affordable. KFF found that to be $5,762. The trade-off for the lower premium is that the consumer is responsible for saving the necessary amount of money needed to meet a higher deductible in the event of illness or requiring medical attention. In theory, under a high-deductible plan, employees can use a tax-advantaged HSA to cover qualified medical costs so these premium savings can be deferred, tax free, in order to meet future medical expenses. However, for many, this simply does not happen.

Saving Where You Can

No matter how the debate on healthcare reform ends up playing out, here are some things a savvy patient might wish to think about now to make the most of their existing insurance benefits:

  • Get an annual checkup: Finding out if you have early underlying health issues earlier in the year and treating them, brings you closer to meeting your deductible before year-end.
  • Consider low-cost health care alternatives: See if your insurance plan grants access to telehealth services. These online virtual doctor visits can be an inexpensive (and faster!) alternative to many minor medical conditions.
  • Know your network: While your Primary Care Provider may be in-network, many specialty physicians and services may not be. You’ll be paying more for care from out-of-network services, and what you pay may not go toward your annual deductible. 
  • Get a free ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings card (or mobile app): For those facing high out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, be it due to a gap in insurance or high insurance copays/deductibles, a free download of the ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings card might help. As a patient, the card (or mobile app) won’t cost a penny to use. If it helps, great—enjoy the benefit of a lower-cost medication. If not, then it didn’t cost anything to try. That said, this savings program did yield an average savings rate is 45% (with savings up to 80%*) in 2016, and the ScriptSave WellRx program is contracted with over 62,000 pharmacies, nationwide. You might be surprised to find out you’re eligible for low-cost prescriptions with your ScriptSave WellRx card.

References:

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/07/heres-why-a-quarter-of-american-families-are-skipping-their-doctor-visits.html

https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/money-pulse-0617/ 


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CBO analysis of Congress' Obamacare repeal or replace

It’s a hectic time for anyone trying to predict what will happen to their family’s healthcare costs. Every conceivable think tank, group, association and committee seems to have an opinion about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), and many ScriptSave WellRx members are wondering (and worrying) about who to believe.

One thing seems to be certain – change is coming. For some, it’ll be well received, while others may be worse for the change.

At ScriptSave, we keep close watch for signs of higher prescriptions prices. Anyone familiar with us, knows that our long-standing mission has been to close the gaps in prescription coverage. We have a 20-year history of working with health plans and pharmacies to provide consumers with discounts on their prescription medications. We choose not to make political statements, but we will insert ourselves into a discussion if we see opportunities to help inform our members.

After reading the much-anticipated Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Republican Obamacare repeal bill, we wanted to summarize some important conclusions that, if you choose to believe the CBO, might be worth taking note of.

The CBO data suggest that roughly 24 million more people would be uninsured by 2026, under the new proposed plan. If the bill is enacted, 14 million more people would be uninsured in 2018 alone.

The nonpartisan CBO also forecasts the GOP plan would cut the deficit by $337 billion over a decade, primarily coming from funding cuts to Medicaid and private insurance subsidies.

An estimated 50 million people were uninsured when Obamacare was enacted in 2010, according to the National Health Interview Survey. This compares to a total of 52 million people who the CBO now estimates would be uninsured by 2026 if the new House bill became law.1

An analysis of the revised Senate amendment of the bill determined that the bill would result in 22 million fewer people with health insurance by 2026, and 15 million fewer just in the next year.5

An Increase on Premiums Through 2020

The CBO analysis of comparative projections, relative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), shows how the Republicans’ Affordable Health Care Act would lead to higher average premiums in the individual market prior to 2020—15% in 2018 and 20% in 2019. The CBO made note that premium changes under the new proposal would differ “significantly” for people of different ages. In particular, the bill would allow insurance companies to charge older customers up to five times more for coverage similar to younger customers.2

Opposition from Healthcare Organizations

Independent of the CBO analysis, the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals commissioned a study of the impact of the bill. Their findings led them to send a letter of opposition to Congress. Their study shows hospitals would be burdened with a loss of $165.8 billion in Medicaid reimbursements by 2026. They further noted “reversal of coverage would represent an unprecedented public health crisis” resulting from the loss of insurance coverage.3

Rising Prescription Drug Costs

The national association, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), also recently completed a study showing the majority of health insurance premiums are going towards the cost of prescription drugs.4

Regardless of how things shake out, ScriptSave will continue to do what we’ve done for the past 20 years—provide options to patients who struggle with non-covered and high deductible prescriptions. For those facing high out-of-pocket costs for prescription medications, a free download of the ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings card may help lower healthcare costs in this area. As a patient, the card (or mobile app) is free to download and free to use. The average savings rate for ScriptSave members is 45% (with many saving up to 80%*), and the ScriptSave WellRx program is contracted with over 62,000 pharmacies, nationwide.

For anyone wondering how it works, we just wrote a blog post on that subject. Learn more in our Honesty 1.01 article (and don’t forget to sign up, regardless of how you voted).


References:

1 https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/costestimate/americanhealthcareact_0.pdf

2 https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/aca/cbo-republican-healthcare-bill-would-cover-millions-fewer-than-aca-but-reduce-federal-deficit

3 https://www.aha.org/content/16/impact-repeal-aca-report.pdf

4 https://ahip.org/health-care-dollar/

https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52849

* Average and up to savings percentages are based on all discounted prescriptions that were run through the ScriptSave WellRx program in 2016. Discount percentages represent savings provided off of pharmacies’ retail prices for consumers who do not have a discount program and pay cash.

 

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ScriptSave WellRx - American Heart Month exercise image

On average, someone dies of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) every 40 seconds. That is about 2,200 deaths of CVD each day. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women.February has been designated as American Heart Month to raise awareness about heart disease and how people can prevent it — both at home and in the community. It’s a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.

The term “heart disease” is used broadly to describe a number of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiovascular disease is a condition in which plaque, which is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other things in the blood, builds up inside the coronary arteries which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. If the plaque gets big enough, it can cause a heart attack or even sudden cardiac death.

Heart Disease Across the US

The statistics on the prevalence of CVD are staggering2:

  • 7 million, or 34.0% of US adults are estimated to have hypertension
  • 5 million, or 11.9% of US adults are estimated to have total serum cholesterol levels ≥240 mg/dL
  • 4 million, or 9.1% of US adults are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes
  • Stroke accounted for ≈1 of every 20 deaths in the United States
  • On average, someone in the US has a stroke every 40 seconds. This is about 795,000 new or recurrent stroke each year. On average, someone died of a stroke every 4 minutes.

The way to avoid becoming part of these statistics starts with some basic ideas. If you smoke, stop. If you don’t exercise, then it’s time to start (but talk to your doctor first). Strive for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each day. And if you’re eating high-fat fried foods, it’s time to give your diet a workout. Even the pharmacy chain, CVS, is making a move to carrying snacks without trans-fats, which have been linked to increases in heart disease, with its branded food products.

Heart Healthy Foods

The American Heart Association has identified foods that meet their certification program requirements. Research shows that eating these foods can lead to fewer heart disease risk factors.3 The Heart-Check mark, the front-of-package icon of the American Heart Association’s Food Certification Program, has been helping shoppers make healthier food choices for more than 20 years. It’s a useful tool for consumers constructing a healthier diet.

Whether you’re grocery shopping or dining out, the Heart-Check mark makes spotting heart-healthy foods simple. Some examples of foods in the Heart-Check Certification Program include4:

 Product  Company
 America’s Choice Roasted Turkey Breast  Smithfield Foods, Inc.
 Boar’s Head Black Forest SmokeMaster
Beechwood Smoked Ham
 Boar’s Head Provisions Company, Inc.
 Simply Orange Original Pulp Free 100% Orange Juice  The Coca-Cola Company
 Darling Clementines  LGS Specialty Sales LTD
 Fresh Sweet Potatoes (US grown, orange flesh varieties)  The United States Sweet Potato Council, Inc.

If you’re planning a grocery store trip, look for the Heart-Check mark and get started on the road to a healthier heart. And take the first important step – talk to your doctor about your risks.

References:

  1. NCHS. Deaths, percent of total deaths, and death rates for the 15 leading causes of death in 10-year age groups, by race and sex: United States, 1999-2013 .
  2. American Heart Association – https://newsroom.heart.org/events/february-is-american-heart-month-5712350
  3. Choosing foods that meet Heart-Check certification requirements linked to better diet quality, study finds https://news.heart.org/choosing-foods-that-meet-heart-check-certification-requirements-linked-to-better-diet-quality-study-finds/
  4. Heart-Check Food Certification Program  https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@fc/documents/downloadable/ucm_474830.pdf

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or low prices on blood pressure medications,

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