IRS delays putting debit card restrictions in pharmacies into effect
SAN MATEO, Calif. A new healthcare debit card guidance from the IRS that would have gone into effect Jan. 1 will be delayed six months in order to give pharmacies more time to comply with the new rules.
WageWorks, a company that helps employers support consumer-directed pre-tax benefit programs, including healthcare and wellness programs, called the delay “good news” for the industry and for consumers.
The new rules would have added retail pharmacies to the list of merchants required to have an IRS-approved inventory system in place in order to accept a healthcare debit card and included an exception enabling pharmacies that primarily sell healthcare items to accept the card as long as they met certain IRS requirements.
“This is really an early holiday present for both the industry and cardholders,” WageWorks senior executive Jody Dietel said in a statement. “The decision means more time for independent pharmacies to meet the IRS’ requirements and convenience for accountholders who can continue to use their cards to shop at their local pharmacies and drug stores.”
Healthcare affordability, availability are Americans’ top concerns
WASHINGTON A Gallup Poll released Monday shows reported that more people are most concerned about the rising costs and possible limits to access of health care than they are worried about the effects of life-threatening conditions such as AIDS, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Of 1,000 people surveyed representing different sexes, ages and social groups, 55 percent said that availability and affordability of health care was the “the most urgent health problem” the nation has to deal with. Just 2 percent cited diabetes, AIDS and heart disease, while 11 percent cited cancer and 12 percent obesity. The Gallup Poll was taken between the dates of Nov. 11 and Nov. 13. A margin of error was reported at 3 percent.
Reports said that the nation’s total healthcare spending in 2007 was more than $2.3 trillion. That figure represents about 16 percent of the nation’s total domestic product and the National Coalition on Health Care has said that the total is expected to climb almost 7 percent by the end of the year.
The Census Bureau has reported that nearly 50 million Americans are currently without health insurance.
CDC, Families Fighting Flu remind communities Tuesday is Children’s Influenza Vaccination Day
WASHINGTON The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Families Fighting Flu members and other public health organizations are partnering to commemorate Children’s Influenza Vaccination Day on Dec. 9, in an effort to remind parents to get children vaccinated.
The non-profit Families Fighting Flu organization was established for the children who die each year due to the influenza virus, and is made up of families and healthcare practitioners dedicated to educating people about the severity of influenza and the importance of vaccinating children against the flu every year.
“The willingness of the members of Families Fighting Flu to speak openly about their loss and the importance of vaccinating children is both courageous and selfless, and I thank them for helping to spread the word about this important issue,” said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the CDC.
Yearly flu vaccination should begin as soon as the vaccine is available and continue throughout the flu season. The CDC recommends that children aged 6 months up to 19 years of age get vaccinated against the flu. The CDC also recommends that those in close contact with children younger than 5 years of age, such as family members and caregivers, get a flu vaccine each year. In addition, people who live with or are in close contact with a child of any age with a chronic health problem, such as asthma, diabetes or other conditions, should get a flu vaccine.
Each year, an average of 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized in the United States because of flu-related complications. As many as 1-in-5 children younger than 5 years old may have to see the doctor, visit the emergency room or other urgent care for treatment for flu. And about 100 children, on average, die from flu-related complications.
“Losing my infant son, Ian, to the flu has been an unbearable heartbreak, but he is the reason I want parents to know how important it is to protect their infants, especially those who are too young for vaccination, by getting themselves, their family members and every caregiver vaccinated against the flu,” said Julie Moise, a board member of Families Fighting Flu.