Categories

Most Americans, Both Younger and Older, Worry About the Future of Medicare and Social Security

You would assume that most people over 50 would be worried about the financial future of Medicare to cover health care as those middle-aged Americans age. But a surprising two-thirds of young Americans between 18 and 29, and 7 in 10 between 30 and 39 years of age, are concerned that Medicare’s solvency will worsen leading to their not being able to receive Medicare when eligible to receive it, discovered in the 2024 Healthcare in America Report from West Health and Gallup. This year’s research focused on aging in America, exploring areas of U.S. health care system successes as well

 

The Most Trusted Brands of 2024 Tell Us A Lot About Health Consumers

From bandages to home hygiene, OTC pain meds and DIY home projects, Morning Consult’s look into the most-trusted brands of 2024 give us insights into health consumers. I’ve been tracking this study since before the public health crisis of the coronavirus, and it always offers us a practical snapshot of the U.S. consumer’s current ethos on trusted companies helping people risk-manage daily living — and of course, find joy and satisfaction as well. In the top 15, we find self-care for health and well-being in many brands and products: we can call out Band-Aid, Dove, Colgate, Kleenex, and Tylenol. For

 

A 2025 Subaru Forester, a Year at U-New Mexico, or a Health Plan for a Family of Four: the 2024 Milliman Medical Index

Health care costs for an “average” person covered by an employer-sponsored PPO in the U.S. rose 6.7% between 2023 and 2024, according to the 2024 Milliman Medical Index. Milliman also calculated that the largest driver of cost increase in health care, accounting for nearly one-half of medical cost increases, was pharmacy, the cost of prescription drugs, which grew 13% in the year.             The big number this year is $32,066, which is the cost of that employer-sponsored PPO for a family of 4 in 2024. I’ve curated the chart of the MMI statistic for many

 

The Thematic Roadmap for AHIP 2024: What the Health Insurance Conference Will Cover

Health insurance plans make mainstream media news every week, whether coverage deals with the cost of a plan, the cost of out-of-network care, prior authorizations, or cybersecurity and ransomware attacks, among other front-page issues. This week, AHIP (the acronym for the industry association of America’s Health Insurance Plans) is convening in Las Vegas for its largest annual 2024 meeting. We expect at least 2,400 attendees registered for the meeting, and they’ll not just be representing the health insurance industry itself; folks will attend #AHIP2024 from other industry segments including pharmaceuticals, technology, hospitals and health systems, and the investment and financial services

 

GLP-1s’ direct and indirect impacts on health care and consumer goods – Jane speaks with Bloomberg BNN

Today, I spoke live with Paul Bagnell, news anchor with Bloomberg BNN, on the topic of the GLP-1 agonists and their impact on health care, industries beyond health and medicine, and consumers. In this post, I’ll share with you some of the plotline for our discussion.               Gallup polled U.S. adults in March to gauge their experience with injectable weight loss drugs, the results published earlier this week. The first chart tells us that 6% of people have used these drugs, and 3% were doing so in March. Consumers using the meds were more

 

Prescriptions Are Up, Health Services Utilization Down, and GLP-1s Are a Major Growth Driver: IQVIA’s 2024 Update

In the past year, the growth of prescription drug utilization and spending has much to do with the use of GLP-1 agonists to treat diabetes and obesity, along with immunology therapy, and lipid meds, along with specialty medicines now accounting for over half of spending — up from 49% in 2018. This update comes from The Use of Medicines in the U.S. 2024 from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. The annual report details trends in health services utilization, the use of prescription drugs, patient financing of those costs, the drivers underpinning the medicines spending, and an outlook to 2028.

 

Telehealth Legislation Passes Ways & Means, As GLP-1s Are Fast-Meshing with Telemedicine in the Marketplace

Yesterday, the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means passed six pieces of legislation that would bolster telehealth in the U.S. for the next two years, assuring several aspects of access for health citizens across the country. “One of our top priorities on this Committee is helping every American access health care in the community where they live, work, and raise a family,” Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) explained in his introductory statement. Being from Missouri, Chairman Smith is especially keen on the role virtual care and telehealth can play to expand access to the under-served in the U.S. “In rural

 

The Cost of Medical Care, Long-Term Care, and Prescription Drugs Top Older Americans’ Health-Related Concerns – With Social Security and Medicare Top of Mind

Among Americans 50 years of age and over, the top health-related concerns are Cost, Cost, and Cost — for medical services, for long-term and home care, and for prescription medications. Quality of care ranks lower as a concern versus the financial aspects of health care in America among people 50 years of age and older, as we learn what’s On Their Minds: Older Adults’ Top Health-Related Concerns from the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. AARP sponsors this study, which is published nearly every month of the year on the Michigan Medicine portal.           

 

Considering Equity and Consumer Impacts of GLP-1 Drugs – A UBS Economist Weighs In

Since the introduction of GLP-1 drugs on the market, their use has split into two categories: for obesity and “recreationally,” according to the Chief Economist with UBS (formerly known as Union Bank of Switzerland). Paul Donovan, said economist, discusses The economics of getting thin in his regularly published comment blog.                   “These different uses have different economic consequences,” Donovan explains: Obese patients who use GLP-1s should become more productive employees, Donovan expects — less subject to prejudice, and less likely to be absent from work. While so-called recreational GLP-1 consumers may experience these

 

The Self-Prescribing Consumer: DIY Comes to Prescriptions via GLP-1s, the OPill, and Dexcom’s CGM

Three major milestones marked March 2024 which compel us to note the growing role of patients-as-consumers — especially for self-prescribing medicines and medical devices. This wave of self-prescribed healthcare is characterized by three innovations: the Opill, GLP-1 receptor agonists, and Dexcom’s Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system that’s now available without a prescription. Together, these products reflect a shift in health care empowerment toward patients as consumers with greater autonomy over their health care when the products and services are accessible, affordable, and designed with the end-user central to the value proposition and care flows. Let’s take a look at each

 

The Economic Contours of the Change Healthcare Cyber Attack: Taking Stock So Far

On February 22, 2024, I went to a CVS Pharmacy-Inside-Target in my community to fill a prescription for benzonatate 200 mg capsules. I had caught a bad case of the flu the week before, and subsequently suffered a very long tail of a cough. That’s TMI for me to write about in the Health Populi blog, but this story has a current-events twist: the pharmacist could not electronically link with my insurance company to transact my payment. He tried a few work-flows, and ended up using a discount card which in the moment worked for us, and I paid the

 

The Health Consumer in 2024 – The Health Populi TrendCast

At the end of each year since I launched the Health Populi blog, I have put my best forecasting hat on to focus on the next year in health and health care. For this round, I’m firmly focused on the key noun in health care, which is the patient – as consumer, as Chief Health Officer of the family, as caregiver, as health citizen. As my brain does when mashing up dozens of data points for a “trendcast” such as this, I’ll start with big picture/macro on the economy to the microeconomics of health care in the family and household,

 

Inflation and the cost of health care top U.S. voters’ issues for 2024 elections

The cost of living ranks top in U.S. voters’ minds among many issues Americans are feeling and following in late 2023. A close second in line is affordability of health care, as consumers’ household budgets must make room for paying medical bills — with prescription drug costs also very important as a discussion topic for 2024 Presidential candidates, we learn from the latest KFF Health Tracking Poll published 1 December. The monthly study focused on U.S. voters’ top issues and perspectives on the health system and care approaching the new year of 2024. KFF fielded the study among 1,301 U.S.

 

What Walmart’s Look at Ozempic Users Tells Us About Health/Care Consumers

“We definitely do see a slight change compared to the total population, we do see a slight pullback in overall basket,” the CEO of Walmart US is quoted in Bloomberg. “Just less units, slightly less calories.”                   With patients’ use  GLP-1 drugs such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro fast-rising in the pharmacy market, so are the concerns of companies that stock the-middle-of-the-grocery-store aisles for processed foods like sweet and salty snacks. As the prospects for the drug companies who manufacture prescription drugs made for patients managing diabetes and obesity are on the

 

Pharmacy Plays a Growing Role in Consumers’ Health@Retail – J.D. Power’s 2023 Rankings

“Brick-and-mortar pharmacies forge meaningful connections with customers” through conversations between pharmacists and patients, “on a first-name basis.” This quote comes from Christopher Lis, managing director of global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power who released the company’s annual 2023 U.S. Pharmacy Study today, the 15th year the research has been conducted.                           Each year, J.D. Power gauges U.S. consumers’ views on retail pharmacies in four channels: brick and mortar chain drug stores, brick and mortar mass merchandisers, brick and mortar supermarkets, and mail order. Across all four channels, the

 

GNC Offers “Free Healthcare” — Telehealth, Generic Meds, and Loyalty in the Retail Health Ecosystem

The retail health landscape continues to grow, now with GNC Health offering a new program featuring telehealth and  “curated set” of 40+ generic prescription drugs commonly used in urgent care settings.             The services are available to members of GNC’s new-and-improved loyalty program, GNC PRO Access, which is priced at a fixed fee of $39.99 for one year’s membership. This is available to consumers 18 years of age and older. “As a trusted brand in the health and wellness space, we are thrilled to expand our efforts in helping our customers Live Well by offering

 

To Avert a GLP-1 Cost Tsunami, Add Lifestyle Interventions: Learning from Virta Health

With consumer and prescriber interest in GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs “soaring,” health plan managers have a new source of financial stress and clinical questions on their to-do list. A team of Virta Health leaders held a webinar on 13th July 2023 to explain the results of a study the company just completed assessing health plan execs’ current views on Ozempic and other GLP-1 medicines with a view on both clinical outcomes and cost implications for this growing category of drugs that address diabetes and obesity.             Indeed, diabetes and obesity are top health concerns among the

 

There’s a New “O” in Medicine-Town – Welcome OPill to the Front of the Counter

You may not be able to get that ear-worm jingle that goes “O O O Ozempic” out of your musical mind, but I’m happy to tell you there’s a new “O” in town: the Opill. Welcome to the first OTC contraceptive for sale in the USA.                     I wrote about Perrigo’s Opill here in Health Populi in May 2023 as a “signpost on the road to retail health.” It’s official: “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Opill®, a progestin-only daily oral contraceptive, for over-the-counter (OTC) use for all ages.

 

Happy Amazon Prime Days, When You Can Get 25% Off a Year’s One Medical Membership

Now in Aisle E(commerce) – get your one-year membership to One Medical for $149. Today and tomorrow are Amazon Prime Days, 2023 style, when you can fetch bargains on lots of electronics (esp. deeply-discounted Amazon-branded devices), sporting goods, kitchen gear, pet supplies, and even groceries (saving with Amazon Fresh getting $20 off $100+ orders on Prime Day).                       And among a vast menu of health, medical, and well-being offerings from collagen to gym equipment and blood pressure monitors is that One Medical membership good for a year of services. “On-demand

 

Patients-As-Health Care Payers Define What a Digital Front Door Looks Like

In health care, one of the “gifts” inspired by the coronavirus pandemic was the industry’s fast-pivot and adoption of digital health tools — especially telehealth and more generally the so-called “digital front doors” enabling patients to access medical services and personal work-flows for their care. Two years later, Experian provides a look into The State of Patient Access: 2023.                     You may know the name Experian as one of the largest credit rating agencies for consumer finance in the U.S. You may not know that the company has a significant footprint

 

Getting Health Care at a Retail Pharmacy vs a Retail Store: Consumers May Be Favoring the Pharmacist Versus the Retailer

Not all “retail health” sites are created equal, U.S. consumers seem to be saying in a new study from Wolters Kluwer Health, the company’s second Pharmacy Next: Consumer Care and Cost Trends survey. Specifically, consumers have begun to differentiate between health care delivered at a retail pharmacy versus care offered at a retail store — such as Target or Walmart (both named as sites that offer “health clinics in department stores” in the study press release). While 58% of Americans were likely to visit a local pharmacy as a “first step” when faced with a non-emergency medical situation and 79%

 

Three More Signposts on the Road to Retail Health – Weight Loss Drugs, OTC Birth Control and Fashion-Meets-the-Flu

We continue to track to evolving, expanding landscape of retail health — which we see as the expanding ecosystem of health/care accessible to people-as-health consumers. This week, three intriguing examples are resonating with us: The ever-evolving weight-loss industry FDA favors OTC use for Perrigo’s Opill daily oral contraceptive birth control pill The convergence of fashion and health — specifically, how an over-the-counter medicine converges with clothing that helps us feel better.                   Let’s start with weight-loss, as several aspects of health/care come together in the consumer’s retail health sandbox. Dr. Eric Topol

 

A Public Health Wake-Up Call: Reading Between the Lines in IQVIA’s 2023 Use of Medicines Report

Reviewing the annual 2023 report from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science discussing The Use of Medicines in the U.S. is always a detailed, deep, and insightful dive into the state of prescription drugs. It’s a volume speaking volumes on the current picture of prescribed meds, spending and revenues, health care utilization trends, and a forecast looking out to 2027. In my read of this year’s review, I see a flashing light for U.S. health care: “Wake up, public health!” I’ve pulled out a few of the data points that speak to me about population health, prevention and early

 

Thinking Pharma on a Friday: Europe’s Big Reforms for a Health Union & the U.S. 50-State Fragments

The COVID-19 pandemic re-shaped European Union leaders to reimagine healthcare, public health, and health citizenship in the EU. Welcome to #HealthUnion, the hashtag that the European Commission has adopted with the vision of assuring access to medicines for all people living in the 27-nation EU area — regardless of socioeconomic status.             On 26th April 2023, the EC unveiled the most significant reforms for the region’s pharmaceutical industry in twenty years. It’s really a package or “toolkit” in the words of EC Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides for addressing several strategic health pillars

 

The Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for 2023 Are About Social, Mental and Behavioral Health

Ten years ago, ECRI named the top 10 health technology hazards  for 2013: they were alarm hazards, medication administrative errors using infusion pumps, unnecessary exposure and radiation burns from diagnostic radiology procedures, patient/data mismatches in EHRs and other HIT systems, interoperability failures with medical devices and health IT systems, and five other tech-related hazards. In 2014, ECRI pivoted the title of this annual report to “patient safety concerns,” a nuance away from health technology. Fast forward to 2023 and ECRI’s latest take on the Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns 2023. While technology is embedded in this list, the headlines have more

 

The Heart Health Continuum at #CES2023 – From Prevention and Monitoring to Healthy Eating and Sleep

“Are we losing the battle against heart disease?” asks the lead article featured in the January 2023 issue of the AARP Bulletin.           “Despite breathtaking medical advancements since President Harry Truman declared war on heart disease 75 years ago, researchers have observed a disturbing trend that started in 2009: America’s death rate from heart-related conditions is climbing again,” the detailed essay explains. AARP is in fact a very visible stakeholder in the 2023 CES, collaborating on the AgeTech content track at the tech conference. The track covers all aspects of aging well, from financial health to entertainment,

 

Our Homes as HealthQuarters – Finding Health and Well-Being at CES 2023

For over ten years, digital health technology has been a fast-growing area at the annual CES, the largest convention covering consumer electronics in the world.           When the meet-up convenes over 100,000 tech-folk in Las Vegas at the start of 2023, we’ll see even more health and self-care tools and services at #CES23 — along with new-new things displayed in aisles well outside of the physical space on the Las Vegas Convention Center map labeled “digital health” at this year’s CES in the North Hall.         Some context: my company has been a member

 

Dollar General & CHPA Collaborate to Bolster Health Consumers’ Literacy and Access for OTC Pain Meds and Self-Care

Health is “made” where we live, work, play, pray, learn….and shop. I spend a lot of time these days in the growing health/care ecosystem where retail health is broadening to address social determinants and drivers of health – namely food, transportation, broadband access, education, environment, and financial wellness – all opportunities for self-care and health engagement. For many years, I have followed the activities of CHPA, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, and have participated in some of their conferences. Their recent announcement of a collaboration with Dollar General speaks to the growing role of self-care for all people.    

 

Consumers’ Trust In Pharmacists As Providers Grows Along with Omnichannel Health Care

What is a “pharmacy” these days? You might have recently walked into a brick-and-mortar retail pharmacy. Or, you might have refilled a prescription to help you manage a chronic condition, online. Or, perhaps, you asked the pharmacist staffing your favorite grocery store Rx counter to give you the latest vaccine to keep COVID-19 variants at-bay. The pharmacy is all these things, and increasingly digital-first, we learn in The Rx Report: A new day in retail pharmacy, a consumer survey from CVS Health.         CVS Health, one of the two largest pharmacies operating in the U.S. in 2021

 

The Patient as Prescription Drug Payer – The GoodRx Playbook

Patients have more financial skin-in-their-healthcare-games facing high-deductibles and direct out-of-pocket costs for medical bills…including prescription drugs. I collaborated with GoodRx on a “yellow paper” discussing The Health Consumers as Payer, with implications and calls-to-action for pharma and life science companies. You can download the paper at this link.               The report is intended to be a playbook for understanding patients’ growing role as consumers and health care payers, providing insights into peoples’ home economic mindsets and how these impact a patient’s adherence to medication based on cost and perceived value. With inflation facing household

 

Telehealth-As-Healthcare Is a Mainstream Expectation Among Consumers, J.D. Power Finds

Telehealth has increased access to mental health services, I’ve highlighted this Mental Illness Awareness Week here in Health Populi. But telehealth has also emerged as a preferred channel for routine health care services, we learn from J.D. Power’s 2022 Telehealth Satisfaction Study.           Among people who had used virtual care in the past year, telehealth-as-healthcare is now part of mainstream Americans’ expectations as a normal part of their medical care. That’s because 9 in 10 users of telehealth in the U.S. would use virtual care to receive medical services in the future, J.D. Power found in

 

Remember the Social Determinants of Health When Prescribing Drugs

Thinking about the social determinants of prescription drugs, how people take medicines in real life in my latest post in Medecision’s Liberate Health blog.           I had one of those special lightbulb moments when listening to Mauricio Gonzalez-Arias, M.D. of NYC Health + Hospitals and Suvida Healthcare discussing medication adherence and what prevents us from taking our meds as prescribed. His discussion on social determinants’ role in shaping our relationship with prescriptions was powerful, and the jumping off point for this essay.           Medication adherence is a challenge that fiscally costs the

 

Gallup Reveals Americans’ Views on Industry Are the Lowest Since 2008 – Implications for Healthcare and Pharma

Americans’ positive views of 25 industries in the U.S. have declined in the past year. In their latest look into consumers’ views on business in America, Gallup found that peoples’ ratings on business fell to their lowest ratings overall since 2008.           Peoples’ highest ratings of industry in American occurred in 2017 when nearly 50% of people gave business a very or somewhat positive grade. The year-on-year decline from 2021 find oil and gas at the lowest level of positivity, advertising/PR, legal, the Federal government, and pharma at the bottom of the ratings.      

 

“Beyond the Bubble Bath,” Self-Care Must Be Rooted in Science To Build Trust Among Consumers

The goal of self-care for health-making is to improve lives by scaling health-and-wellness accessible to all, Bayer believes, giving people more control over their personal health. Self-care work-flows must be based in science to ensure products and services are trusted and deliver on their clinical promise, Bayer explains in Science-Led Self-Care: Principles for Best Practice, a paper published this week which the company intends to be a blueprint for the industry.                 Bayer recognizes that self-care is growing among health consumers around the world — albeit underpinned by peoples’ cultures, demographics, and “readiness”

 

The Old Gays Working with Walgreens on TikTok: Breaking Down Stereotypes and Having Fun with Health

How much do I love this media campaign from Walgreens, collaborating with the foursome The Old Gays who have a growing multi-million person fan base on TikTok? How much? A whole lot! Kudos to Walgreens for creating engaging, informative, and fun! content to learn about how people can benefit from using the company’s app ….for, Ordering prescriptions (90-day supply) Receiving delivery same-day 24/7 pharmacy chat on pricing, prescription drug information, and medications. The plotline kicks off with 3 of the 4 quartet (Jessay Martin, Robert Reeves and Mick Peterson) looking for their friend Bill Lyons, who is missing from their

 

What If Costco Designed the Prescription Drugs Sales Model?

The good news about prescription drugs, in the context of medical spending in the U.S., is that 9 in 10 medicines prescribed are generics. They comprise only 3% of all U.S. healthcare spending.           But there’s bad news about prescription drugs in the context of medical spending in America. U.S. Consumers Overpay for Generic Drugs, a new paper from the Leonard Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics asserts, with recommendations to address the intermediaries who benefit from the way Americans currently pay for medicines. Generics are “an American success story,” the authors call out, bringing

 

A New Chevy Equinox SUV, a Year in Grad School, or Health Care for Four – The 2022 Milliman Medical Index

A new Chevy Equinox SUV, a year in an MS program in kinesiology at Pacific Lutheran U., or health care for a family of four. At $30,260, you could pick one of these three options.             Welcome to this year’s 2022 Milliman Medical Index, which annually calculates the health care costs for a median family of 4 in the U.S. I perennially select two alternative purchases for you to consider aligning with the MMI medical index. I have often picked a new car at list price and a year’s tuition at a U.S. institution of

 

Patients Look Beyond the Pandemic to Pharma for Engagement, Innovation, and Integrity

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted patients who were already deeply engaged with their own health care before the coronavirus emerged. Compared with a year ago, more patients and their advocates are seeking quality therapies, innovation, engagement, and integrity from pharmaceutical companies, based on research published today from PatientView. PatientView, based in the UK, has collaborated with over 40,000 patient advocacy organizations globally marking over 10 years doing this research. The eleventh annual report on the Corporate Reputation of Pharma was conducted among 2,150 patient groups between November 2021 and February 2022, covering health citizens in Europe (with 1,229 organizations), North

 

Can a Food-As-Medicine App Extend Chronic Health Management at the Grocery Store?

Foogal, a recipe app designed to support patients’ healthy cooking and eating, launched on 24th March. In its initial version, Foogal addresses several specific diet paradigms: for patients demanding a wellness protocol, an autoimmune protocol, or wanting to address insulin resistance. Foogal got my attention via a tweet @FoogalApp on 25th March. The snippet featured a photo of a delectable Salad Lyonnaise, one of my favorite things to eat, which adds a soft-cooked egg and bacon lardons to the greens for an easy light (and delicious!) meal. Foogal was developed by Todd Knobel, who has worked in law, in plastics,

 

Fastest-Growing Brands for 2021 Are About Digital Money, Social Connections and Boomers’ Best Lives

Two pharmaceutical companies bubble up among the 20 fastest-growing brands for 2021 in Morning Consult’s report on the Fastest-Growing Brands of 2021. But the surprise in this year’s top 20 brand rankings was that five of them addressed consumers’ financial flows: Coinbase, AfterPay. Cash App, Mastercard, Chime, and Bitcoin. One year ago when I covered this study, I found  that the fastest-growing brands of 2020 had everything to do with the pandemic. They dealt with home entertainment, digital connectivity, hygiene, and indeed, health (with Pfizer and AstraZeneca the two pharma brands top-of-mind for consumers). In this year’s update, exploring consumers’

 

Support for Drug Price Negotiation Brings Partisans Together in the U.S.

Most U.S. adults across political parties favor allowing the Federal government authority to negotiate for drug prices — even after hearing the arguments against the health policy. Drug price negotiation, say by the Medicare program, is a unifying public policy in the current era of political schisms in America, based on the findings in a special Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health Tracking Poll conducted in late September-early October 2021. Overall, 4 in 5 Americans favor allowing the Federal government negotiating power for prescription drug prices, shown in the first chart from the KFF report. By party, nearly all Democrats agree

 

Health Privacy and Our Ambivalent Tech-Embrace – Lessons for Digital Health Innovators

A new look into Americans’ views on health privacy from Morning Consult provides a current snapshot on citizens’ concerned embrace of technology — worried pragmatism, let’s call it. This ambivalence will flavor how health citizens will adopt and adapt to the growing digitization of health care, and challenge the healthcare ecosystem’s assumption that patients and caregivers will universally, uniformly engage with medical tools and apps and technologies. More Boomers are concerned with health data app privacy than Gen Z consumers, as the chart illustrates. 46% of U.S. adults said that health monitoring apps were not an invasion of privacy; 32%

 

Why CES 2022 Will Be Keynoted by a Health Care Executive

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced that Robert Ford, CEO and President of Abbott, will give a keynote speech at CES 2022, the world’s largest annual convention of the technology industry. This news is a signal that health care and the larger tech-enabled ecosystem that supports health and well-being is embedded in peoples’ everyday lives. Digital health as a category has been a growing feature at CES for over a decade, starting with the early wearable tech era of Fitbit, Nike, Omron and UnderArmour, early exhibitors at CES representing the category. By 2020, the most recent “live, in person” CES,

 

Telehealth is Health: It’s Telehealth Awareness Week

In April 2020, telemedicine morphed into mainstream medical care as hospitals and physicians risk-managed exposure to infection by meeting with patients, virtually, when possible. By March 2020, telehealth channels were replacing visits to doctors and emergency departments as shown in the first chart from the CDC’s report on the early pandemic period. By the spring of 2021, telehealth use stabilized, but health systems had built the processes and policies to deliver on the promise of omni-channel health care — from the patient’s home and hands (via smartphones) into community sites closer-to-home, and returning to brick-and-mortar medical buildings. Welcome to Telehealth

 

Pondering Prescription Drugs: Pricing Rx and Going Direct-to-Consumer

There is one health care public policy issue that unites U.S. voters across political party: that is the consumer-facing costs of prescription drugs. With the price of medicines in politicians’ and health citizens’ cross-hairs, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries have responded in many ways to the Rx pricing critiques from consumers (via, for example, Consumer Reports/Consumers Union and AARP), hospitals (through the American Hospital Association), and insurance companies (from AHIP, America’s Health Insurance Plans). The latest poll from the University of Chicago/Harris Public Policy and the Associate Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research quantifies the issue cross-party, finding that 74%

 

Health Insurance in Aisle 3: Why a Grocery Chain is Working on Medicare

“You can trust us to help you find the right Medicare coverage for you and your lifestyle,” the tagline reads. What kind of organization would be behind this campaign: a healthcare navigator company, an insurance company, or a social services agency? In fact, it’s a grocery store called Hy-Vee, which launched the “Medicare Aisle” to help consumers living in the eight states in which the chain’s 240+ stores operate to sort through the daunting labyrinth of Medicare choices. “Hy-Vee is a trusted leader in the health and wellness space, and as a retail and specialty pharmacy provider, we are deeply

 

Doctors’ Offices Morph into Bill Collectors As Patients Face Growing Out-Of-Pocket Costs

In the U.S., patients have assumed the role of health care payors with growing co-payments, coinsurance amounts, and deductibles pushing peoples’ out-of-pocket costs up. This has raised the importance of price transparency, which is based on the hypothesis that if patients had access to personally-relevant price/cost information from doctors and hospitals for medical services, and pharmacies and PBMs for prescription drugs, the patient would behave as a consumer and shop around. That hypothesis has not been well proven-out: even though more health care “sellers” on the supply side have begun to post price information for services, patients still haven’t donned

 

Pharmacies Garner Retail Health Love in the Pandemic – Update from J.D. Power

When we say the word “pharmacy,” we might picture the Main Street brick-and-mortar chain drugstore that dispenses medicines from behind the counter in the far back of the building, and sweet and salty snacks at the front by the cashier. In fact, “pharmacy” is the jumping off point for the expanding and increasingly beloved retail health ecosystem, J.D. Power found in the company’s latest 2021 U.S. Pharmacy Study. Each year, J.D. Power assesses consumers’ perceptions of pharmacies by category, including those retail chains along with supermarket operated, mass merchants, and mail order channels. This is the 13th year of the

 

Eli Lilly Bets on U.S. Well-Being at the Olympics

The U.S. Olympic team will be competing in Tokyo for first-place medals across many athletic events, each nation’s most physically-fit citizens going for gold. When it comes to the U.S. ranking on the world roster of population health outcomes, American ranks low on many key metrics, especially given that the U.S. does rank #1 in one key stat: healthcare spending. Reminding us of America’s lowly-placed health outcomes, the Eli Lilly Company is collaborating with Team USA, the US Olympic and Paralympic teams, to promote “Our Collective Health” with the message that, “Watching the success of our athletes will once again

 

Healthy Living Trends Inspired by COVID-19: Retailers, Food, and Consumers’ Growing Self-Care Muscles

“Self-care” took on new meaning and personal work-flows for people living in and through the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. Acosta, the retail market research pro’s, updated our understanding consumers evolving as COVID-19 Has Elevated the Health and Wellness Trends of the Recent Years, results of a survey conducted among in May 2021. In the U.S., consumers’ take on self-care has most to do with healthy eating and nutrition (for 1 in 2 people), getting regular medical checkups (for 42%), taking exercise, relaxing, using vitamins and supplements, and getting good sleep. Healthy relationships are an integral part of self-care for

 

Aduhelm and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Potential Medicare Budget-Buster Puts A Blazing Light on Health Care Costs and Innovation

The FDA’s approval of the first therapy to treat Alzheimer’s Disease in over twenty years brought attention to a not-yet-convened debate of U.S. health care costs and spending, innovation, and return-on-the-investment (as well as “for whom” do the returns accrue). In my latest post for Medecision, I explore different angles on the Aduhelm and Alzheimer’s discussion, covering: The macro- and micro-economics of Alzheimer’s and the $56,000 list price for the drug The FDA regulatory process and aftermath U.S. consumers’ bipartisan support for drug price regulation through Medicare negotiation and private/commercial sector adoption Congressional legislation addressing the price of medicines in

 

The Healthcare and Macro-Economic Impacts of Living with Endemic COVID – Listening to Fitch

Getting totally rid of the coronavirus isn’t likely, so we humans must accept the fact that SARS-CoV-2 will be endemic. The economic and healthcare system impacts of this were explored in the Post-Covid Healthcare Landscape, delivered by Fitch Solutions’ Jamie Davies and Beau Noafshar, leaders in the Pharmaceuticals, Healthcare, and Medical Devices groups. I welcomed the opportunity to learn from this team’s approach in weaving together the dynamic issues that help us to plan for the long-tail of COVID-19 and its impact on the economy and prospects for the health care industry and health citizens. The first graph illustrates the

 

What Do Democrats and Republicans Agree On? Allowing Negotiations to Lower Rx Prices

People living in the U.S. have weathered over fifteen months of life-shifts for work, school, prayer, fitness, and social lives. So you might think that the most important public priority for Congress might have something to do with COVID-19, vaccines, or health insurance coverage. But across all priorities, it turns out that prescription drug costs rank higher in Americans’ minds than any other issue in the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll for May 2021. Two-thirds of U.S. adults said that allowing the federal government and private insurance plans to negotiate for lower prices on Rx drugs was their top

 

Healthcare, Heal Thyself! How the Industry Can and Should Play the Trust Card

The emergence of the COVID-19 vaccine “infodemic” has slowed the ability for nations around the world to emerge out of the public health crisis. Growing cynicism among some health citizens facing the politicization of public health tactics like vaccines and facial masks is what we’re talking about. At the root is peoples’ lack of trust across a range of information providers, including government, media, business, and even peers. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer spotlighted the infodemic and eroding trust in the U.S. in the voices of public health, the public sector, and media. This is a global challenge as well,

 

Americans’ Views on Food Have Been Re-Shaped by the Pandemic: Think Security, Immunity, and Sustainability

As vaccinations jabbed into peoples’ arms in the U.S. continue to immunize health citizens from contracting the coronavirus, millions of folks are looking forward to getting back inside restaurants to enjoy meals out, as well as un-masking when grocery shopping. But people in the U.S. love their food both outside and inside the home: about one-half of people in the U.S. are continuing to cook at home more, according to the 2021 Food & Health Survey published today by the International Food Information Council (IFIC). This sixteenth annual report is a go-to for those of us in the health/care ecosystem who

 

Spending on Medicines In and Post-COVID Say a Lot About Patients and Larger Healthcare Trends – an IQVIA Update

Spending on medicines, globally, will rebound this year and rise above pre-pandemic levels through 2025. Between 2021 and 2025, the annual growth global growth rate for prescription drugs spending is expected to range from 3% to 6%, a $1.6 trillion bill for the worlds’s total Rx medicines market. That relatively low single-digit growth rate is tempered by savings from biosimilars and the loss of brand exclusivity (that is, more generics coming to market). On the faster-growth side, we can expect two big therapeutic areas to drive spending upward: oncology and immunology, projected to expand by 9% to 12% each year

 

The Cost of Healthcare Can Drive Medical Rationing and Crowd Out Other Household Spending

One in five people in the U.S. cannot afford to pay for quality health care — an especially acute challenge for Black and Hispanic Americans, according to a West Health-Gallup poll conducted in March 2021, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. “The cost of healthcare and its potential ramifications continues to serve as a burdensome part of day-to-day life for millions of Americans,” the study summary observed. Furthermore, “These realities can spill over into other health issues, such as delays in diagnoses of new cancer and associated treatments that are due to forgoing needed care,” the researchers expected. The first table

 

How Grocery and Retail Companies Are Delivering Health and Healthcare

The Wall Street Journal featured the grocery chain Kroger in an article yesterday titled, COVID-19 Vaccinations, Tests Give Boost to Kroger’s Health Ambitions. “With 2,250 pharmacies and 220 clinics largely in the Midwest and the southern U.S., Kroger is the fourth-largest pharmacy operator by script count,” the Journal noted, adding details about Walmart, CVS Health, and Walgreens all fast-expanding their respective health care footprints. As more consumers view their homes as personal and safe health havens, there is no shortage of suppliers in the food, retail, and mobility sectors working fast to meet that demand for convenient and accessible services.

 

Value-Based Health Care Needs All Stakeholders at the Table – Especially the Patient

2021 is the 20th anniversary of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design (V-BID). On March 10th, V-BID held its annual Summit, celebrating the Center’s 20 years of innovation and scholarship. The Center is led by Dr. Mark Fendrick, and has an active and innovative advisory board. [Note: I may be biased as a University of Michigan graduate of both the School of Public Health and Rackham School of Graduate Studies in Economics].   Some of the most important areas of the Center’s impact include initiatives addressing low-value care, waste in U.S. health care, patient assistance programs, Medicare

 

Ten Forces Shaping Health Care in 2021: A View from CVS Health

Expanding omni-channel, data-driven, cost-effective health care in the community, tailoring that care, and attending to mental health paint the picture of health through the lens of CVS Health. The company published the Health Trends Report 2021 today, calling out ten forces shaping health care this year. Those themes are, The Year of the Pharmacist The Next Step Forward in Cardiac Care Cancer Needs a Better Roadmap The EHR Hits Its Stride The Mental Health Shadow of COVID-19 Tailor Care to the Older Patient More Agents that Predict Disease Paying for the New Medical Miracle Virtual Care Goes Mainstream, and Diabetes

 

Retail Health Gains Consumer Kudos in the Pandemic

The more health consumers use health and wellness services at retail, the greater their satisfaction and brand-love, according to a new report from J.D. Power. J.D. Power found that peoples’ Net Promoter Scores were higher among those folks who used at least one health and wellness service at a brick-and-mortar pharmacy, shown in the first chart. That NPS-delta was 15 points between consumers who used no services (rating an NPS of 55) versus people using at least 2 services (awarding an NPS score of 70). Consumers using more health and wellness services also spent more money at the drug store, a

 

The Remarkable Rise of Pharma’s Reputation in the Pandemic

The reputation of the pharmaceutical industry gained a “whopping” 30 points between January 2020 and February 2021, based on the latest Harris Poll in their research into industries’ reputations. The study was written up by Beth Snyder Bulik in FiercePharma. Beth writes that, “a whopping two-thirds of Americans now offer a thumbs-up on pharma” as the title of her article, calling out the 30-point gain from 32% in January 2020 to 62% in February 2021. Thanks to Rob Jekielek, Managing Director of the Harris Poll, for sharing this graph with me for us to understand the details comparing pharma’s to

 

The Social Determinants of Prescription Drugs – A View From CoverMyMeds

The COVID-19 pandemic forced consumers to define what were basic or essential needs to them; for most people, those items have been hygiene products, food, and connectivity to the Internet. There’s another good that’s essential to people who are patients: prescription drugs. A new report from CoverMyMeds details the current state of medication access weaving together key health care industry and consumer data. The reality even before the coronavirus crisis emerged in early 2020 was that U.S. patients were already making painful trade-offs, some of which are illustrated in the first chart from the report. These include self-rationing prescription drug

 

Ten In Ten: Manatt’s Healthcare Priorities to 2031

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed major weaknesses in the U.S. health care system, especially laying bare inequities and inertia in American health care, explained in The Progress We Need: Ten Health Care Imperatives for the Decade Ahead from Manatt Health. The report details the ten objectives that are central to Manatt’s health care practice, a sort of team manifesto call-to-action and North Star for the next decade. Their ten must-do’s for bending the cost curve while driving constructive change for a better health care system are to: Ensure access Achieve health equity Stability the safety net and rebuild public health

 

Addressing Lives and Livelihoods with a Whole-of-Government Approach – The First Wave of Biden Health Policy

President Biden’s first few days on the job gave us a very clear view on how he sees conquering COVID: through a whole-of-government approach to public policies that bolster directly addressing the virus, along with the many forces shaping how we got here and how to come out of the pandemic era stronger. I cover this first wave of Biden health policy in my latest post for the Medecision Liberation blog titled, “Top Priorities for President Biden: COVID-19, Then Everything Else.” The plotline goes… On the day of inauguration, January 20, 2021, Joseph R. Biden was installed as the 46th

 

The 2021 Shkreli Awards: Lown Institute Counts Down the Top 10 Healthcare Industry Abuses in the Coronavirus Pandemic

The first year of the coronavirus pandemic in America was a kind of stress test on the U.S. health care system, revealing weak links and opportunities for bad behavior. “These are not just about individual instances or bad apples,” Dr. Vikas Saini, President of The Lown Institute, explained, referring to them as “cautionary tales” of the current state of U.S. health care. Dr. Saini and his colleague Shannon Brownlee released the annual Lown Institute 2020 Shkreli Awards this week, highlighting their ten most egregious examples of the worst events in U.S. health care that happened in the past year —

 

The 2021 Health Populi TrendCast – Health Care, Self-Care, and the Rebirth of Love in Public Health

In numerology, the symbolic meaning behind the number “21” is death and re-birth. In tarot cards, 21 is a promise of fulfillment, triumph, and victory. How apropos that feels right now as we say goodbye and good riddance to 2020 and turn the page for a kinder, gentler, healthier New Year. It would be sinful to enter a New Year as challenging as 2021 promises to be without taking the many lessons of our 2020 pandemic life and pain into account. For health care in America, it is a time to re-build and re-imagine a better, more equitable landscape for

 

U.S. Health Consumers’ Growing Financial Pressures, From COVID to Cancer

Before the coronavirus pandemic, patients had been transforming into health care payors, bearing high deductibles, greater out of pocket costs, and financial risk shifting to them for medical spending. In the wake of COVID-19, we see health consumers-as-payors impacted by the pandemic, as well as for existing diagnoses and chronic care management. There is weakening in U.S. consumers’ overall household finances, the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) asserted (published 25 November 2020). In John Leer’s look into the BEA report in Morning Consult, he wrote, “Decreases in income, the expiration of unemployment benefits and increased

 

The Pandemic, Amazon, Pharmacy, and the Digital Transformation of Health Consumers

As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the U.S., Americans were already Primed for ecommerce — even in health care. The coronavirus accelerated the digital transformation on people as consumers — and consumers as health consumers. Today, Amazon announced the company’s launch of Amazon Pharmacy. Watch for earth-shaking (negative) impacts on the incumbent pharmacies like CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens, as well as discount and ecommerce players such as GoodRx. [Sidebar: as of 10 am this morning, the announcement “sunk” the retail pharmacy stocks, according to TheStreet.com]. Some context: this announcement builds on Amazon’s previous major move into pharmacy with its acquisition of

 

Voting for Health in 2020

In the 2018 mid-term elections, U.S. voters were driven to polls with health care on their minds. The key issues for health care voters were costs (for care and prescription drugs) and access (read: protecting pre-existing conditions and expanding Medicaid). Issue #2 for 2018 voters was the economy. In 2020, as voting commences in-person tomorrow on 3rd November, U.S. voters have lives and livelihoods on their minds. It’s the pandemic – our physical lives looming largest in the polls – coupled with our fiscal and financial lives. Health is translating across all definitions for U.S. voters in November 2020: for

 

DIY Health Care and Self-Care Accelerating in the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has spawned many side-effects re-shaping consumers’ everyday lives. Among them, more time at home, DIY life-flows, and financial well-being are driving growth of self-care health care. An article in the latest Drug Store News talks about consumers growing more health-conscious, adopting natural, homeopathic products. “It’s about more than washing your hands,” David Salazar explains. “Fending off illness has become a state of mind for many consumers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.” In feeling dis-empowered in the face of the pandemic – with the first shock of the Great Lockdown and stay-at-home mandates – we’ve taken on more do-it-yourself behaviors, from

 

Americans Worry About Medical Bankruptcy, As Prescription Drug Costs Play Into Voters’ Concerns

One in two people in the U.S. are concerned that a major health event in their family would lead to bankruptcy, up 5 percent points over the past eighteen months. In a poll conducted with West Health, Gallup found that more younger people are concerned about medical debt risks, along with more non-white adults, published in their study report, 50% in U.S. Fear Bankruptcy Due to Major Health Event. The survey was fielded in July 2020 among 1,007 U.S. adults 18 and older. One of the basic questions in studies like these is whether a consumer could cover a $500

 

Pharma’s Future Relevance Depends on Empathy, Messaging, Partnering, and Supporting Patients and Providers

COVID-19 is re-shaping all industries, especially health care. And the pharma industry is challenged along with other health care sectors. In fact, the coronavirus crisis impacts on pharma are especially accelerated based on how the pandemic has affected health care providers, as seen through research from Accenture published in Reinventing Relevance: New Models for Pharma Engagement with Healthcare Providers in a COVID-19 World. For the study, Accenture surveyed 720 health care providers in general practice, oncology, immunology, and cardiology working in China, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., in May and June 2020. Top-line, Accenture points to four

 

The Racial Divide Due to COVID-19 Also Applies to Healthcare and Pharma Costs

Into the sixth month of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., it’s clear that COVID-19 has wreaked a greater mortality and morbidity impact on people of color than on white adults. A new Gallup-West Health poll found that the coronavirus also concerns more non-white Americans than whites when it comes to the cost of health care and medicines to deal with the effects of COVID-19. Considering the cost of COVID-19 treatment, across all U.S. adults, 40% of people are concerned (extremely/concerned), and 41% are “not at all concerned.” Broken down by race, there is a stark difference in levels of

 

Americans Across Political Party Worry About Prescription Drug Prices – Especially to Deal with COVID-19

Nine in ten Americans is concerned about the price of prescription drugs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Gallup and West Health found in their survey on the cost of healthcare, published today. A majority of people across political party share this concern: overall, 88% of U.S. adults are concerned about rising drug prices in response to COVID19, split across party ID with: 94% of Democrats, 86% of Independents, and 84% of Republicans. By demographics, more women than men are concerned about rising costs for the three health care spending categories the survey studied: drug prices, insurance premiums, and

 

Americans’ Concerns About the US Healthcare System Loom Larger Than Worries About Their Own Care

The coronavirus pandemic has further opened the kimono of the U.S. healthcare system to Americans: four months into the COVID-19 outbreak, most consumers (62%) of people in the U.S. are more concerned about other people not having access to high quality health care versus themselves. This is a 16 point increase in concern in May 2020 compared with the response to the same question asked in February in a poll conducted by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (the AP-NORC Center). The AP-NORC Poll found more of this

 

Trust My Doctor and Fear the Office: The Telehealth Opportunity in and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic

Doctors maintain their top status as U.S. patients’ most-trusted source of coronavirus information. However, as patients continue to be concerned about exposure to COVID-19, 3 in 5 are concerned about being at-risk to the virus in their doctor’s office, according to research from the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP) and AMCP, the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. Patients’ concerns of COVID-19 risks have led them to self-ration care in the following ways: 41% have delayed health care services 42% felt uncomfortable going to a hospital for any medical treatment 45% felt uncomfortable using an urgent care or walk-in clinic,

 

Health Care In the COVID-19 Era – PwC Finds Self-Rationing of Care and Meds Especially for Chronic Care

Patients in the U.S. are self-rationing care in the era of COVID-19 by cutting spending on health care visits and prescription drugs. The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on health consumers’ spending varies depending on whether the household is generally a healthy family unit, healthy “enthusiasts,” dealing with a simple or more complex chronic conditions, or managing mental health issues. PwC explored how COVID-19 is influencing consumers’ health care behaviors in survey research conducted in early April by the Health Research Institute. The findings were published in a May 2020 report, detailing study findings among 2,533 U.S. adults polled in early April

 

What $6,553 Buys You in America: A Luxury Watch, a Year at Valdosta State, or a PPO for One – the 2020 Milliman Medical Index

Imagine this: you find yourself with $6,553 in your pocket and you can pick one of the following: A new 2020 Breitling Navitimer watch; A year’s in-state tuition at Valdosta State University; or, A PPO for an average individual. Welcome to the annual Milliman Medical Index (MMI), which gauges the yearly price of an employer-sponsored preferred-provider organization (PPO) health insurance plan for a hypothetical American family and an N of 1 employee. That is a 4.1% increase from the 2019 estimate, about twice the rate of U.S. gross domestic product growth, Milliman points out in its report.   Milliman bases

 

Sex, Drugs, Mental Health and COVID Tests – A DTC Reboot for Health?

This week, Hims & Hers announced they would be a new consumer-facing retail channel for coronavirus testing. You can order the test here for $150 cash out-of-pocket. The packaging states that this is a saliva test, “to detect current presence of COVID-19.” The fine print on the Hims website states: This test has been authorized by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization for use by authorized laboratories. This test has not been FDA cleared or approved. This test has been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens. This test

 

How COVID-19 Has Re-Shaped Health Care Delivery So Far

COVID-19 is re-shaping health care in America across many dimensions. In Shifts in Healthcare Demand, Delivery and Care During the COVID-19 Era, IQVIA presents a multi-faceted profile of the early impacts of the pandemic on U.S. health care. In the report, published in April 2020, IQVIA mined the company’s many data bases that track real-time data, including medical claims, flu data, sales data, oncology medical and pharmacy claims, formularies, among other sources. Top-line, IQVIA spotted the following key shifts in U.S. health care since the start of the coronavirus pandemic: Patients’ use of health services Impacts on medicine use, influenced

 

Wistful Thinking: The National Health Spending Forecast In a Land Without COVID-19

U.S. health care spending will grow to 20% of the national economy by 2028, forecasted in projections pre-published in the April 2020 issue of Health Affairs, National Health Expenditure (NHE) Projections. 2019-28: Expected Rebound in Prices Drives Rising Spending Growth. NHE will grow 5.4% in the decade, the model expects. But…what a difference a pandemic could make on this forecast. This year, NHE will be $3.8 trillion, growing to $6.2 trillion in 2028. Hospital care spending, the largest single component in national health spending, is estimated at $1.3 trillion in 2020. These projections are based on “current law,” the team

 

Health Care Costs Concern Americans Approaching Retirement – Especially Women and Sicker People

Even with the prospect of enrolling in Medicare sooner in a year or two or three, Americans approaching retirement are growing concerned about health care costs, according to a study in JAMA Network Open. The paper, Health Insurance Affordability Concerns and health Care Avoidance Among US Adults Approaching Retirement, explored the perspectives of 1,028 US adults between 50 and 64 years of age between November 2018 and March 2019. The patient survey asked one question addressing two aspects of “health care confidence:” “Please rate your confidence with the following:” Being able to afford the cost of your health insurance nad

 

Come Together – A Health Policy Prescription from the Bipartisan Policy Center

Among all Americans, the most popular approach for improving the health care in the U.S. isn’t repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act or moving to a Medicare-for-All government-provided plan. It would be to improve the current health care system, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s research reported in a Bipartisan Rx for America’s Health Care. The BPC is a truly bipartisan organization, co-founded by Former Democratic Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and George Mitchell, and Former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker and Bob Dole. While this political week in America has revealed deep chasms between the Dems and

 

Most Americans Regardless of Income Say It’s Unfair for Wealthier People to Get Better Health Care

In America, earning lower or middle incomes is a risk factor for having trouble accessing health care and/or paying for it. But most Americans, rich or not, believe that it’s unfair for wealthier people to get better health care, according to a January 2020 poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard Chan School of Public Health, Life Experiences and Income Equality in the United States. The survey was conducted in July and August 2019 among 1,885 U.S. adults 18 or older. Throughout the study, note the four annual household income categories gauged in the research: Top 1%

 

Despite Greater Digital Health Engagement, Americans Have Worse Health and Financial Outcomes Than Other Nations’ Health Citizens

The idea of health care consumerism isn’t just an American discussion, Deloitte points out in its 2019 global survey of healthcare consumers report, A consumer-centered future of health. The driving forces shaping health and health care around the world are re-shaping health care financing and delivery around the world, and especially considering the growing role of patients in self-care — in terms of financing, clinical decision making and care-flows. With that said, Americans tend to be more healthcare-engaged than peer patients in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, Deloitte’s poll found. Some of the key behaviors

 

More Evidence of Self-Rationing as Patients Morph into Healthcare Payors

Several new studies reveal that more patients are feeling and living out their role as health care payors as medical spending vies with other household line items. This role of patient-as-the-payor crosses consumers’ ages and demographics, and is heating up health care as the top political issue for the 2020 elections at both Federal and State levels. In research from HealthPocket, 2 in 5 Americans said they needed to reduce other household expenses to be able to afford their monthly insurance premiums. Four in ten consumers said their monthly health insurance premiums were increasing. One in four people in the

 

Great Expectations for Health Care: Patients Look for Consumer Experience and Trust in Salesforce’s Latest Research

On the demand side of U.S. health care economics, patients are now payors as health consumers with more financial skin in paying medical bills. As consumers, people have great expectations from the organizations on the supply side of health care — providers (hospitals and doctors), health insurance plans, pharma and medical device companies. But as payors, health consumers face challenges in getting care, so great expectations are met with frustration and eroding trust with the system, according to the latest Connected Healthcare Consumer report from Salesforce published today as the company announced expansion of their health cloud capabilities. This is

 

Will Consumers Cross the Cost-and-Trust Chasm Between Prescription Drugs and Hospitals?

People in the U.S. rank prescription drugs, lab tests, emergency room visits, dental and vision care, preventive services, chronic disease management and mental health care as the “most essential” health care services, according to the 2019 Survey of America’s Patients conducted by The Physicians Foundation. When asked what factors contribute to rising health care costs in America, most consumers cite the cost of prescription drugs. Taken together, these two data points demonstrate the potent political import of prescription drug prices as the U.S. approaches the 2020 Presidential election. The Physicians Foundation surveyed 2,001 U.S. adults between 27 and 75 years

 

Americans’ Top Sources of Stress are Money, Money, Money and Family

ABBA sang the song “Money Money Money” back in 1976. The lyrics feel, sadly, spot-on when thinking about health care costs, job-lock and Americans’ home economics in 2019. “Work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay Ain’t it sad And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me That’s too bad… Money, money, money must be funny In the rich man’s world.” That year, ’76, wasn’t just the U.S. bicentennial — it was a year when the U.S. allocated 8.6% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product for health care.

 

Wasted: $1 of Every $4 Spent on Health Care In America

A study in JAMA published this week analyzed research reports that have measured waste in the U.S. health care system, calculating that 25% of medical spending in America is wasted. If spending is gauged at $3.8 trillion, waste amounts to nearly $1 trillion. If spending is 18% of the American gross domestic product (GDP), then some 4.5% of the U.S. economy is wasted spending by the health care system and its stakeholders. In “Waste in the US Health Care System,” a team from Humana and the Univrsity of Pittsburgh recalibrated the previous finding of 30% of wasted spending to the 25%,

 

Health @ Retail – Prelude to GMDC SelfCare Summit with Updates from Hims & Hers, GoodRx, Sam’s Club and Amazon Care

“We knew millions of people weren’t getting the care they needed — they were either too embarrassed to seek help or felt stuck in a system that was confusing and intimidating. Digital health has the potential to radically change the way people approach their wellness and, since launching in 2017, we’ve outpaced even our own expectations, delivering more than 1 million Hims & Hers products to our customers. In collaboration with highly-qualified doctors and healthcare providers, we’ve built a digital health platform that is changing the way people talk about and receive the care they need.” That’s  a verbatim paragraph

 

Health Care Bills’ Financial Toxicity – Remembering the Jones’ of Whatcom County, WA

“In an extreme example of angst over expensive medical bills, an elderly Washington couple who lived near the U.S.-Canadian border died in a murder-suicide this week after leaving notes that detailed concerns about paying for medical care,” USA Today reported on August 10, 2019. Five years ago, financial toxicity as a side-effect was noted by two Sloan Kettering Medical Center in a landmark report on 60 Minutes in October 2014. Epidemiologist Peter Bach and oncologist Leonard Saltz told CBS’s Lesley Stahl, “A cancer diagnosis is one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy…We need to take into account the financial

 

Talking “HealthConsuming” on the MM&M Podcast

Marc Iskowitz, Executive Editor of MM&M, warmly welcomed me to the Haymarket Media soundproof studio in New York City yesterday. We’d been trying to schedule meeting up to do a live podcast since February, and we finally got our mutual acts together on 6th August 2019. Here’s a link to the 30-minute conversation, where Marc combed through the over 500 endnotes from HealthConsuming‘s appendix to explore the patient as the new health care payor, the Amazon prime-ing of people, and prospects for social determinants of health to bolster medicines “beyond the pill.” https://www.pscp.tv/MMMnews/1eaJbvgovBYJX Thanks for listening — and if you

 

Marketing Health To Consumers in the Age of Retail Disruption

Today, I am speaking with marketing leaders who are members of CHPA, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association on this very topic. This is CHPA’s 2019 Marketing Conference being held at the lovely historic Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, DE. The gist of my remarks will be to focus on the evolving retail health ecosystem, with my HealthConsuming lens on health/care, everywhere. And timing is everything, because today is International Self-Care Day to promote peoples’ health engagement. The plotline begins with a tale of two companies — CVS/health and Best Buy — discussing these two organizations’ approach to acquiring companies to expand

 

Finances Are the Top Cause of Stress, and HSAs Aren’t Helping So Much…Yet

If you heed the mass media headlines and President Trump’s tweets, the U.S. has achieved “the best economy” ever in mid-July 2019. But if you’re working full time in that economy, you tend to feel much less positive about your personal prospects and fiscal fitness. Nearly nine in 10 working Americans believe that medical costs will rise in the next few years as they pondering potential changes to the Affordable Care Act. The bottom line is that one-half of working people are more concerned about how they will save for future health care expenses. That’s the over-arching theme in PwC’s

 

On Amazon Prime Day, What Could Health Care Look Like?

Today is July 15, and my email in-box is flooded with all flavors of Amazon Prime’d stories in newsletters and product info from ecommerce sites — even those outside of Amazon from beauty retailers, electronics channels, and grocery stores. So I ask on what will probably be among the top ecommerce revenue generating days of all time: “What could health care look like when Amazon Prime’d?” I ask and answer this in my book, HealthConsuming, as chapter 3. For context, this chapter follows two that explain how patients in the U.S. have been morphing into health consumers based on how health

 

The New Drug Companies Aren’t Drug Companies At All

The health/care ecosystem continues to morph as the stakeholder groups themselves are blurring across and outside of their core businesses. Today’s example of this is Clover Health, which launched Clover Therapeutics this week. This research organization will develop medicines targeting older adults — which makes sense because Clover Health’s target consumer market is Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. “Clover Therapeutics was created to address the significant unmet needs in chronic progressive diseases in the Medicare population,” Cheng Zhang, Head of Clover Therapeutics, is quoted in the press release. The company will first collaborate with Genentech (Roche) to research and develop therapies based

 

Prescription Drugs Are Becoming A Luxury Good in America – Join the #HCLDR Chat Tonight

“Drugmakers Push Their Prices Higher” is the top story under the Business & Finance banner in today’s Wall Street Journal. That’s in terms of drugs’ list prices, which most patients don’t pay. But drug costs to patients are in the eye of the beholder, who in a high-deductible plan or Medicare Part D donut hole becomes the first-dollar payer. Patients continue to face rising drug costs, pushing them into what I’ve been thinking about as luxury-goods territory. The economic definition of a luxury good is a product for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises, so that spending

 

Health Care and the Democratic Debates – Round 2 – Battle Royale for M4All vs Medicare for All Who Want It – What It Means for Industry

Looking at this photo of the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential candidate debater line-up might give you a déjà vu feeling, a repeat of the night-before debate. But this was Round 2 of the debate, with ten more White House aspirants sharing views — sometimes sparring — on issues of immigration, economic justice, climate change, and once again health care playing a starring role from the start of the two-hour event. The line-up from left to write included: Marianne Williamson. author and spiritual advisor John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado Andrew Yang. tech company executive Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend,