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Loneliness, Public Policy and AI – Lessons From the UK For the US

There’s a shortage of medical providers in the United Kingdom, a nation where healthcare is guaranteed to all Britons via the most beloved institution in the nation: The National Health Service. The NHS celebrated its 70th anniversary in July this year. The NHS “supply shortage” is a result of financial cuts to both social care and public health. These have negatively impacted older people and care for people at home in Great Britain. This article in the BMJ published earlier this year called for increasing these investments to ensure further erosion of population and public health outcomes, and to prevent

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As Workers’ Healthcare Costs Increase, Employers Look to Telehealth and Wearable Tech to Manage Cost & Health Risks

Family premiums for health insurance received at the workplace grew 5% in 2018: to $19,616, according to the 2018 KFF Employer Health Benefits Survey released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). These two trends combine for a 212% increase in workers’ deductibles in the past decade. This is about eight times the growth of workers’ wages in the U.S. in the same period. Thus, the main takeaway from the study, KFF President and CEO Drew Altman noted, is that rising health care costs absolutely remain a burden for employers — but a bigger problem for workers in America. Given that

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Health Il-Literacy Costs

The complexity of the U.S. healthcare system erodes Americans’ health literacy, Accenture asserts in their report, The Hidden Cost of Healthcare System Complexity.                             And that complexity costs, Accenture calculated, to the tune of nearly $5 billion in administrative cost burden to payors. Accenture developed a healthcare system literacy index to quantify the relationship between peoples’ understanding of how health insurance works and what a lack of understanding can cost the system. The index looks at consumer comprehension of health insurance terms like premium, deductible, copayment, coinsurance, out-of-pocket

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More U.S. Companies Offering Health Insurance After 8 Years of Decline

After eight years of decline, more U.S. employers offered health insurance to workers in 2017, EBRI reports in its latest Issue Brief. In 2017, 46.9% of U.S. companies offered health insurance to their employees, up by 1.6 percentage points from a low of 45.3% in 2016. For perspective, ten years earlier in 2008, 56.4% of employers offered health insurance, shown in the first bar chart (Figure 1 from the EBRI report). The largest percentage point increase in health plan offer-rates came from the smallest companies, those with less than 10 employees: while 21.7% of those companies offered health insurance in

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Wealth is Health and Health, Wealth, Fidelity Knows – with Weight a Major Risk Factor

The two top stressors in American life are jobs and finances. “My weight” and my family’s health follow just behind these across the generations. Total Well-Being, a research report from Fidelity Investments, looks at the inter-connections between health and wealth – the combined impact of physical, mental, and fiscal factors on our lives. The first chart summarizes the study’s findings, including the facts that: One-third of people have less than three months of income in the bank for emergency Absenteeism is 29% greater for people who don’t have sufficient emergency funds saved People who are highly stressed tend not to

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Employers Take on Health Activism, Embracing Behavioral Health, Virtual Care, AI, and Transparency

More U.S. employers are growing activist roles as stakeholders in the healthcare system, according to the 2019 Large Employers Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey from the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). Consider the Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway-JPMorgan Chase link up between Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Jamie Dimon, as the symbol of such employer-health activism. The NBGH report is based on survey results collected from 170 large employers representing 13 million workers and 19 million covered lives (families/dependents). This annual survey is one of the most influential such reports released each year, providing a current snapshot of large employers’ views

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How Taking Care of Your Health Boosts Savings Accounts

It will cost about $275,000 for a couple retiring in the U.S. this year to cover their healthcare costs for the rest of their life in retirement, Fidelity estimated. But Americans are notoriously pretty undisciplined about saving money, compared with peers living in other developed countries. How to address this challenge? Show people what improving their personal health can do to boost their 401(k) plans. This tactic is discussed in Health & Retirement Savings: Leveraging Healthcare Costs to Drive 401(k) Contributions & Improve Health, from HealthyCapital, a joint venture of Mercy health systems and HealthView Services.   The chart illustrates three

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Healthcare Policies We Can Agree On: Pre-Existing Conditions, Drug Prices, and PillPack – the June 2018 KFF Health Tracking Poll

There are countless chasms in the U.S. this moment in social, political, and economic perspectives. but one issue is on the mind of most American voters where there is evidence of some agreements: health care, as evidenced in the June 2018 Health Tracking Poll from Kaiser Family Foundation. Top-line, health care is one of the most important issues that voters want addressed in the 2018 mid-term elections, tied with the economy. Immigration, gun policy, and foreign policy follow. While health care is most important to voters registered as Democrats, Republicans rank it very important. Among various specific health care factors, protecting

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Design, Empathy and Ethics Come to Healthcare: HXD

Design-thinking has come to health/care, finally, and Amy Cueva has been beating this drum for a very long time. I’m delighted to be in her collegial circle, speaking at the conference about the evolving healthcare consumer who’s financially strapped, stressed-out, and Amazon Primed for customer service. I’m blogging live while attending HXD 2018 in Cambridge, MA, the health/care design conference convened by Mad*Pow, 26th and 27th June 2018. Today was Day 1 and I want to recap my learnings and share with you. Amy, Founder and Chief Experience Office of Mad*Pow, kicked off the conference with context-setting and inspiration. Design

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Mary Meeker on Healthcare in 2018: Connectivity, Consumerization, and Costs

  Health care features prominently in the nearly-300 slides curated by Mary Meeker in her always- informative report on Internet Trends 2018.  Meeker, of Kleiner Perkins, released the report as usual at the Code Conference, held this year on 30 May 2018 in Silicon Valley. I’ve mined Meeker’s report for several years here on Health Populi: 2017 – Digital healthcare at the inflection point, via Mary Meeker 2015 – Musings with Mary Meeker on the digital/health nexus 2014 – Healthcare at an inflection point: digital trends via Mary Meeker 2013 – The role of internet technologies in reducing healthcare costs – Meeker

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Healthcare Access and Cost Top Americans’ Concerns in Latest Gallup Poll

Healthcare — availability and affordability — is a more intense worry for Americans in March 2018 than crime and violence, Federal spending, guns, drug use, and hunger and homelessness. The Gallup Poll, fielded in the first week of March 2018, found that peoples’ overall economic and employment concerns are on the decline since 2010, at the height of the Great Recession which began in 2008. While 70% of Americans were worried about economic matters in 2010, only 34% of people in the U.S. were worried about the economy, and 23% about unemployment, in March 2018. Gallup has asked this “worry”

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Sounds Like A John Denver Song: Virginia and Colorado Towns Rank High As Healthy Communities

If it’s true that “your ZIP code is more important than your genetic code,” you’d look for a job in 22046, buy a house there, and plant your roots. You’d find yourself in Falls Church, Virginia, named number one in the Healthiest Communities rankings of 500 U.S. towns. You can see a list of all of the communities here. The project is a collaboration between the Aetna Foundation and U.S. News & World Report, with help from the University of Missouri Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES) and a team from the National Committee on Vital and Health

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Add Behavioral Data to Social Determinants For Better Patient Understanding

“Health agencies will have to become at least as sophisticated as other consumer/retail industries in analyzing a variety of data that helps uncover root causes of human behavior,” Gartner recommended in 2017. That’s because “health” is not all pre-determined by our parent-given genetics. Health is determined by many factors in our own hands, and in forces around us: physical environment, built environment, and public policy. These are the social determinants of health, but knowing them even for the N of 1 patient isn’t quite enough to help the healthcare industry move the needle on outcomes and costs. We need to

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Warren Buffett’s Healthcare Cost Tapeworm & His Alliance with Amazon and JPMorgan

The fact that the average U.S. employer committed to spend nearly $27,000 a year for a PPO to cover a family of 4 in America in 2017 is the most important rationale underlying the announcement that Amazon, Berkshire-Hathaway, and JP Morgan made on 30th January 2017. That news immediately shook Wall Street trading, sending downward shocks down the proverbial spines of healthcare insurance plans and suppliers to the industry — legacy healthcare companies that scale patient-members and healthcare supplies, like pills and surgical implants. The “new competition” chart published in the Wall Street Journal in the morning illustrates those shock

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Health Insurance Costs Stress US Whether We’re Rich or Not / and Why a $0 Budget for CFPB Matters for Healthcare

Health care costs cause anxiety for U.S. adults, regardless of their affluence, we learn in Uncertainty About Healthcare, the latest Stress in America poll from the American Psychological Association. The big stat is that 2 in 3 Americans say the cost of health insurance is a stressor for them or their loved ones, whether the person earns more or less than $50,000 a year. Underneath that top-line are some demographic differences. Millennials are most concerned about access to mental health care compared with Boomers and older adults. Reproductive care access is of most interest to Millennials and Gen Xers. Two-thirds

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Healthcare EveryWhere: Philips and American Well Streamline Telehealth

Two mature companies in their respective healthcare spaces came together earlier this month to extend healthcare services where patients live and doctors work, via telehealth services. Philips, celebrating 127 years in business this year, has gone all-in on digital health across the continuum of care, from prevention and healthy living to the ICU and hospital emergency department. American Well is among the longest operating telehealth companies, founded in 2006. Together, these two established organizations will transcend physician offices and ERs and deliver virtual care in and beyond the U.S. I had the opportunity to sit down with Ido Schoenberg, MD,

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The Patient as Payor – Consumers and the Government Bear the Largest Share of Healthcare Spending in America

The biggest healthcare spenders in the United States are households and the Federal government, each responsible for paying 28% of the $3.3 trillion spent in 2016. Private business — that is, employers covering healthcare insurance — paid for 20% of healthcare costs in 2016, based on calculations from the CMS Office of the Actuary’s report on 2016 National Health Expenditures. The positive spin on this report is that overall national health spending grew at a slower rate in 2016, at 4.3% after 5.8% growth in 2015. This was due to a decline in the growth rates for the use of

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The State of Financial Wellness and Health in America – Suffering Across the Ages

Nearly one-half of Americans are challenged by low financial well-being. Compared to emotional/mental, job/career, social, physical, and financial, it’s this last lens on personal health that gets the lowest ratings for the largest number of Americans. The second most worrying factor diminishing well-being is a tie between physical health and social health. Welcome to The uncomfortable reality of financial wellbeing, a report on the 2017 Financial Mindset Study Highlights from Alight Solutions, an HR services company. The first chart arrays the well-being rankings across the five factors, showing that just over one-half of Americans have more positive views on their emotional

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Don’t Touch My Entitlements to Pay For Tax Reform, Most Americans Say to Congress

To pay for tax cuts, take money from foreign aid if you must, 1 in 2 Americans say. But do not touch my Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security, insist the majority of U.S. adults gauged by the November 2017 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. This month’s survey looks at Americans’ priorities for President Trump and the Congress in light of the GOP tax reforms emerging from Capitol Hill. While reforming taxes is considered a top priority for the President and Congress by 3 in 10 people, two healthcare policy issues are more important to U.S. adults: first, 62% of U.S. adults

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Movin’ Out(patient) – The Future of the Hospital is Virtual at UPMC

In 2016, most consultations between patients and Kaiser-Permanente Health Plan were virtual — that is, between consumers and clinicians who were not in the same room when the exam or conversation took place. Virtual healthcare may be the new black for healthcare providers. Mercy Health System in St. Louis launched a virtual hospital in 2016, covered here in the Health Populi post, “Love, Mercy, and Virtual Healthcare.” Intermountain Healthcare announced plans to build a virtual hospital in 2018. And, earlier this month, UPMC’s CEO, Jeffrey Romoff, made healthcare headlines saying, “UPMC desires to be the Amazon of healthcare.” UPMC, aka University of Pittsburgh

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Health Care Is 2.5 More Expensive Than Food for the Average U.S. Family

The math is straightforward. Assume “A” equals $59.039, the median household income in 2016. Assume “B” is $18,142, the mean employer-sponsored family insurance premium last year. B divided by A equals 30.7%, which is the percent of the average U.S. family’s income represented by the premium cost of health insurance. Compare that to what American households spent on food: just over $7,000, including groceries and eating out (which is garnering a larger share of U.S. eating opportunities, a topic for another post). Thus, health care represents, via the home’s health insurance premium, represents 2.5 times more than food for the

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Four Things We Want in 2017: Financial Health, Relationships, Good Food, and Sleep

THINK: money and love. To find health, working-aged people seek financial stability and good relationships, according to the Consumer Health POV Report from Welltok, meQuilibrium, and Zipongo, featured in their webinar broadcast today. The online consumer survey was conducted among 2,000 full-time working U.S. adults in August 2017, segmented roughly into thirds by Boomers (37%), Gen Xers (32%), and Millennials (31%). Much lower down the priority list for healthy living are managing food, sleep, and stress based on the poll. Feeling stress is universal across most consumers in each of the three generational cohorts, especially related to work and finance.

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Employees Continue To Pick Up More Health Insurance Costs, Even As Their Growth Slows

The average cost of an employer=sponsored health plan for a family reached $18,764 in 2017. While this premium grew overall by a historically relative low of 3.4%, employees covered under that plan faced an increase of 8.3% over what their plan share cost them in 2016, according to the 2017 Employer Health Benefit Survey published today by the Kaiser Family Foundation. [Here’s a link to the 2016 KFF report, which provided the baseline for this 8.3% calculation]. Average family premiums at the workplace rose 19% since 2012, a slowdown from the two previous five-year periods — 30% between 2007 and 2012, and

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Celebrating 10 Years of Health Populi, 10 Healthcare Milestones and Learnings

Happy anniversary to me…well, to the Health Populi blog! It’s ten years this week since I launched this site, to share my (then) 20 years of experience advising health care stakeholders in the U.S. and Europe at the convergence of health, economics, technology, and people. To celebrate the decade’s worth of 1,791 posts here on Health Populi (all written by me in my independent voice), I’ll offer ten health/care milestones that represent key themes covered from early September 2007 through to today… 1. Healthcare is one-fifth of the national U.S. economy, and the top worrisome line item in the American

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Cost and Personalization Are Key For Health Consumers Who Shop for Health Plans

        Between 2012 and 2017, the number of US consumers who shopped online for health insurance grew by three times, from 14% to 42%, according to a survey from Connecture. Cost first, then “keeping my doctor,” are the two top considerations when shopping for health insurance. 71% of consumers would consider switching their doctor(s) to save on plan costs. Beyond clinician cost, health plans shoppers are also concerned with prescription drug costs in supporting their decisions. 80% of consumers would be willing to talk with their doctors about prescription drug alternatives, looking for a balance between convenience

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Employer Health Benefits Stable In the Midst of Uncertain Health Politics

As we look for signs of stability in U.S. health care, there’s one stakeholder that’s holding firm: employers providing healthcare benefits. Two studies out this week demonstrate companies’ commitment to sponsoring health insurance benefits….with continued tweaks to benefit design that nudges workers toward healthier behaviors, lower cost-settings, and greater cost-sharing. As Julie Stone, senior benefits consultant with Willis Towers Watson (WLTW), noted, “The extent of uncertainty in Washington has made people reluctant to make changes to their benefit programs without knowing what’s happening. They’re taking a wait-and-see attitude.” First, the Willis Towers Watson 22nd annual Best Practices in Health Care Employer

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Pharmacy and Outpatient Costs Will Take A Larger Portion of Health Spending in 2018

Health care costs will trend upward by 6.5% in 2018 according to the forecast, Medical Cost Trends: Behind the Numbers 2018, from PwC’s Health Research Institute. The expected increase of 6.5% is a half-percentage point up from the 2017 rate of 6.0%, which is 8% higher than last year’s rate matching that of 2014. PwC’s Health Research Institute has tracked medical cost trends since 2007, as the line chart illustrates, when trend was nearly double at nearly 12%. The research consider medical prices, health care services and goods utilization, and a PwC employer benefit cost index for the U.S. The key

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As High Deductible Health Plans Grow, So Does Health Consumers’ Cost-Consciousness

A person enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan is more likely to be cost-conscious than someone with traditional health insurance. Cost-consciousness behaviors including checking whether a plan covers care, asking for generic drugs versus a brand name pharmaceutical, and using online cost-tracking tools provided by health plans, according to the report, Consumer Engagement in Health Care: Findings from the 2016 EBRI/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey from EBRI, the Employee Benefit Research Institute. A high deductible is correlated with more engaged health plan members, EBRI believes based on the data. One example: more than one-half of people enrolled

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Healthcare Costs for a Family of Four Will Reach $27,000 in 2017

If you had $27,000 in your wallet, would you spend it on a 2017 Kia Optima sedan, 28 shares of Amazon stock, or healthcare? $26,944 is this year’s estimate of what healthcare will cost a family of four in the U.S., based on the 2017 Milliman Medical Index (MMI). This is based on the projected total costs of healthcare for a family covered by an employer-sponsored PPO plan. Milliman, the actuarial consulting firm, has conducted the MMI going back to 2001. I’ve watched the rise and rise of this index for years, explained annually in the Health Populi blog since its inception

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Medical Bill Toxicity: 53% of Americans Say A Big Bill Is As Bad As A Serious Diagnosis

3 in 4 Americans’ health care costs have risen in the past few years. Two-thirds of Americans want to lower their costs, but don’t know how to do that. A survey from Amino released this week, conducted by Ipsos, has found that one in five people could not afford to pay an unexpected medical bill without taking on debt, and another 18% of Americans could only afford up to $100 if presented with an unexpected medical bill. This medical debt side effect more likely impacts women versus men, the less affluent, the unmarried, and those with no college degree. While

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Retail Trumps Healthcare in 2017: the Health Populi Forecast for the New Year

Health citizens in America will need to be even more mindful, critical, and engaged healthcare consumers in 2017 based on several factors shaping the market; among these driving forces, the election of Donald Trump for U.S. president, the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act and health insurance, emerging technologies, and peoples’ growing demand for convenience and self-service in daily life. The patient is increasingly the payor in healthcare. Bearing more first-dollar costs through high-deductible health plans and growing out-of-pocket spending for prescription drugs and other patient-facing goods and services, we’re seeking greater transparency regarding availability, cost and quality of

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One-Half of Privately-Insured Americans Are Dissatisfied With Healthcare Costs

A plurality of Americans, 4 in 10, are dissatisfied with the healthcare costs they face. The level of dissatisfaction varies by a consumer’s type of health insurance, while overall, 42% of people are dissatisfied with costs… 48% of privately insured people are dissatisfied with thei healthcare costs 29% of people on Medicare or Medicaid are dissatisfied 62% of uninsured people are dissatisfied. Gallup has polled Americans on this question since 2014 every November. Dissatisfaction with healthcare costs is up from 38% from the period 2011-2013. As the line chart illustrates, the current levels of cost-dissatisfaction are similar to those felt

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Healthcare Reform in President Trump’s America – A Preliminary Look

It’s the 9th of November, 2016, and Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States of America. On this morning after #2016Election, Health Populi looks at what we know we know about President Elect-Trump’s health policy priorities. Repeal-and-replace has been Mantra #1 for Mr. Trump’s health policy. With all three branches of the U.S. government under Republican control in 2018, this policy prescription may have a strong shot. The complication is that the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare in Mr. Trump’s tweet) includes several provisions that the newly-insured and American health citizens really value, including: Extending health

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Americans Have Begun to Raid Retirement Savings for Current Healthcare Costs

While American workers appreciate the benefits they receive at work, people are concerned about health care costs. And consumers’ collective response to rising health care costs is changing the way they use health care services and products, like prescription drugs. Furthermore, 6 in 10 U.S. health citizens rank healthcare as poor (27%) or fair (33%). This sober profile on healthcare consumers emerges out of survey research conducted by EBRI (the Employee Benefit Research Institute), analyzed in the report Workers Like Their Benefits, Are Confident of Future Availability, But Dissatisfied With the Health Care System and Pessimistic About Future Access and

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