Briefly Noted

Prescription drug shortages worsened last year, shooting up to 267, according to the University of Utah Drug Information Service. In 2010 there were 211 drug shortages.

Such shortages can be frustrating for health plans. Clinicians complain that the gray market, where pharmaceuticals can be repriced, is becoming unmanageable.

Fewer than half of respondents in a recent survey by the Medical Group Management Association say that they track operating costs per procedure. The MGMA 2011 Evolving Healthcare Environment: Status and Readiness Report adds that another third of respondents do not have the capability to track operating costs, but plan to do so.

Medicare Advantage plans that offer gym memberships to beneficiaries seem to attract a healthier population, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine says. “Fitness Memberships and Favorable Selection in Medicare Advantage Plans” concludes that “some Medicare Advantage plans may engage in favorable selection by designing insurance benefits that selectively appeal to healthy persons.” Cherry-picking.

Cognitive decline begins much earlier than believed, setting in at about 45. It had been thought that such decline was minimal before 60, but not so, says a study published in the online version of the British Medical Journal. An editorial accompanying the study says that “it is important to investigate the age at which cognitive decline begins because medical interventions are more likely to work when individuals first start to experience mental impairment.”

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