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The Higher Cost of Cookouts – Happy, Healthy Independence Day 2022

On this July 4th holiday, Americans aren’t feeling quite so financially independent on Independence Day 2022. The cost of a cookout for your family and friend group of 10 rose over $10 this year, 17% higher than in 2021, based on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual assessment of BBQing Economics on the Fourth of July.             This estimate is based on a market-basket menu that includes cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream. Key factors driving up the cost of an All-American cookout include supply chain disruptions (a hangover

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Changing Views of Retirement and Health Post-COVID: Transamerica’s Look At Workers’ Disrupted Futures

As more than 1 in 3 U.S. workers were unemployed during the pandemic and another 38% had reductions in hours and pay, Americans’ personal forecasts and expectations for retirement have been disrupted and dislocated.                 In its look at The Road Ahead: Addressing Pandemic-Related Setbacks and Strengthening the U.S. Retirement System from the Tramsamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS), we learn about the changing views of U.S. workers on their future work, income, savings, dreams and fears. Since 1988, TCRS has assessed workers’ perspectives on their futures, this year segmented the 10,003 adults

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The Unbearable Heaviness of Inflation: Will Consumers’ Financial Stress Erode Their Health?

“Inflation is the big story,” the economics team at Morning Consult told us yesterday in a call on “How to Think Like An Economist.” While I already thought I did that, Team @MorningConsult updated us on the current state of consumers and what’s weighing most heavily on their minds…inflation being #1. An hour after the Morning Consult session, I brainstormed the topic of consumers-as-payers of medical bills and prescription drugs with GoodRx strategy leaders. In my data wonkiness, inflation certainly played a starring role in setting the stage for Mind, Body and Wallet — the title of one of the sources

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Only in America: Medical Debt Is Most Peoples’ Problem, KHN and NPR Report

When high-deductible health plans became part of health insurance design in America, they were lauded as giving patients “more skin in the game” of health care payments. The theory behind consumer-directed care was that patients-as-consumers would shop around for care, morph into rational consumers of medical services just as they would do purchasing autos or washing machines, and shift the cost-curve of American health care ever downward. That skin-in-the-game has been a risk factor for .some patients to postpone care as well as take on medical debt — the strongest predictor of which is dealing with multiple chronic conditions. “The

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Consumers Intend to Invest in Technology — With Budget and Value in Mind

Consumers continued to invest in and use several technologies that supported self-care at home in 2021, with plans to purchase connected health devices, sports and fitness equipment in the next year.                 But these purchases will be made with greater attention to budget and value consumer mindsets firmly focused on (and stressed by) inflation. The 24th Annual Technology Ownership & Market Potential Study from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) tells us that Americans in 2022 will have to manage challenging economic headwinds, shopping for technology is preparing people for their new normal —

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Jasper, Scaling a Human Touch for People Dealing with Cancer, Now With Walgreens

Each year, the first Sunday in June marks National Cancer Survivors Day. This year’s NCSD occurred two days ago on Sunday, 5th June. When you’re a cancer survivor, or happen to love one, every day is time to be grateful and celebrate that survival of someone who has come through a cancer journey. We all know (or are) people who have survived cancer. We know that the recipe for battling cancer goes beyond chemotherapy. We know of the resilience and grit required in the process: body, mind, and spirit. “Celebrate Life” is the mantra of NCSD, as this year’s campaign

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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

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The Patient as Consumer and Payer – A Focus on Financial Stress and Wellbeing

Year 3 into the COVID-19 pandemic, health citizens are dealing with coronavirus variants in convergence with other challenges in daily life: price inflation, civil and social stress, anxiety and depression, global security concerns, and the safety of their families. Add on top of these significant stressors the need to deal with medical bills, which is another source of stress for millions of patients in America. I appreciated the opportunity to share my perspectives on “The Patient As the Payer: How the Pandemic, Inflation, and Anxiety are Reshaping Consumers” in a webinar hosted by CarePayment on 25 May 2022. In this

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Food, Cars, and Tech: Here’s How U.S. Consumers Rank Companies’ Reputations – the 2022 Axios-Harris Poll

We’re all about food and cars and our technology, looking at the 2022 Axios Harris Poll 2022 Reputation Rankings published this week.             I’ve curated the logos of the top 30 companies based on the Poll’s survey of 33,096 U.S. adults conducted in March and April 2022. The survey assessed peoples’ awareness of companies that either “excel or falter in society,” according to the study methodology. Here you see the top 30. The COVID-19 pandemic bolstered consumers’ awareness and call-to-action for peoples’ basic needs: food, working-from-home (thus, tech as a determinant of health and wellbeing),

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How Trust and Geopolitics Will Impact Health and Business – Edelman 2022 Trust Barometer at the World Economic Forum in Davos

When we think about the state of Trust in in mid-2022, there is some good news: Trust is rising (at least in democratic countries, while falling in autocratic ones). The bad news: the gap in Trust has dramatically widened between higher-income people compared with those earning lower-incomes, globally.             And that gap is “tinder” that can be quickly sparked into a socio-political fire in countries around the world, Richard Edelman cautioned today when introducing the latest look at the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, focusing on geopolitics and business. We have never seen numbers like this

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Health Care Costs At Retirement in 2022 Hit $315,000, Fidelity Forecasts

A couple retiring in 2022 should budget $315,000 to cover their health care costs in retirement, based on the 21st annual Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate from Fidelity Investments. For context, note that the median sales price of a home in the U.S. in April 2022 was $391,200.             It’s important to understand what the $315,000 for “health care costs” in retirement does not cover, explained in Fidelity’s footnoted methodology: the assumption is that the hypothetical opposite-sex couple is enrolled in Original Medicare (not Medicare Advantage), and the cost estimate does not include other health-related expenses

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Stress Is Playing A Big Role in Consumers’ Food Habits: Food-As-Medicine Update from IFIC

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated consumers, globally, to take on more DIY roles as well as self-care for health and well-being. In addition, anxiety and stress are mainstream across demographics and have impacted the way people select and consume food, based on findings in the 2022 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC).             In this 17th annual consumer survey, IFIC points to two underlying macro trends that are re-shaping peoples’ relationship with food and health: the pandemic’s impact, and “significant” generational shifts in taste, consumption, and values about nutrition and sustainability.

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Reimagining Health Care Without Walls – Deloitte’s Vision

Delivering health care during the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic proved to both patients and their clinicians that virtual care was not only a viable channel for care, but very often a preferable “place” to collaborate for treatment. Even before the coronavirus pandemic emerged in early 2020, telehealth and the hospital-to-home movement were beginning to become part of a portfolio of delivery modes across the continuum of care. Deloitte spells out the current and future prospects for the Hospital in the future “without” walls in a new report that spells out driving forces, future scenarios, and impacts on a business long

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Three in Five People 50+ in the US Will Likely Use Telehealth In the Future – An Update from AARP

“Telehealth certainly appears to be here to stay,” the AARP forecasts in An Updated Look at Telehealth Use Among U.S. Adults 50-Plus from AARP.                         Two years after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, one-half of U.S. adults over 50 said they or someone in their family had used telehealth. In early 2022, over half of those over 50 (the AARP core membership base) told the Association they would likely use telehealth in the future. This future expectation varies by race, the implications of which I discuss below in

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People Thinking More About the Value of Health Care, Beyond Cost

The rate of people in the U.S. skipping needed health care due to cost tripled in 2021. This prompted West Health (the Gary and Mary West nonprofit organizations’ group) and Gallup to collaborate on research to quantified Americans’ views on and challenges with personal medical costs. This has resulted in The West Health-Gallup Healthcare Affordability Index and Healthcare Value Index.               The team’s research culminated in the top-line finding that some 112 million people in the U.S. struggle to pay for their care. That’s about 4.5 in 10 health citizens. Furthermore, 93% of people

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How Business Can Bolster Determinants of Health: The Marmot Review for Industry

“Until now, focus on….the social determinants of health has been for government and civil society. The private sector has not been involved in the discussion or, worse, has been seen as part of the problem. It is time this changed,” asserts the report, The Business of Health Equity: The Marmot Review for Industry, sponsored by Legal & General in collaboration with University College London (UCL) Institute of Health Equity, led by Sir Michael Marmot.               Sir Michael has been researching and writing about social determinants of health and health equity for decades, culminating publications

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How the Pandemic, Inflation and Ukraine Are Re-Shaping Health Consumers – Learnings from dunnhumby

Too many dollars, stimulated by an influx of COVID-19 government stimulus, are chasing too few goods in economies around the world. Couple this will labor, material shortages, and disrupted supply chains, the exogenous shock of the Ukraine crisis amplifying cost increases and shortage driving higher prices for food and commodities, and global consumers are faced with strains in household budgets. This is impacting grocery stores and. through my lens, will impact health consumers’ spending, as well. In their discussion of Customer First Retailer Responses to Inflationary Times, dunnhumby, retail industry strategists, covered an update on inflation with the top-line that

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In the New Inflationary Era, Gas and Health Care Costs Top Household Budget Concerns

Inflation and rising prices are the biggest problem facing America, most people told the Kaiser Family Foundation March 2022 Health Tracking Poll. Underpinning that household budget concern are gas and health care costs. Overall, 55% of people in the U.S. pointed to inflation as the top challenge the nation faces (ranging from 46% of Democrats to 70% of Republicans). Second most challenging problem facing the U.S. was Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, noted by 18% of people — from 14% of Republicans up to 23% of Democrats. The COVID-19 pandemic has fallen far down Americans’ concerns list tied third place with

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The Financial Toxicity of Health Care Costs: From Cancer to FICO Scores

The financial toxicity of health care costs in the U.S. takes center stage in Health Populi this week as several events converge to highlight medical debt as a unique feature in American health care. “Medical debt is the most common collection tradeline reported on consumer credit records,” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau called out in a report published March 1, 2022. CFPB published the report marking two years into the pandemic, discussing concerns about medical debt collections and reporting that grew during the COVID-19 crisis. Let’s connect the dots on: A joint announcement this week from three major credit agencies,

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Stress in America on the Pandemic’s 2nd Anniversary: Money, Inflation, and War Add to Consumers’ Anxiety

As we mark the second anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, the key themes facing health citizens deal with money, inflation, and war — “piled on a nation stuck in COVID-19 survival mode,” according to the latest poll on Stress in America from the American Psychological Association. Financial health is embedded in peoples’ overall sense of well-being and whole health. Many national economies entered the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 already marked by income inequality. The public health crisis exacerbated that, especially among women who were harder hit financially in the past two years than men were. That situation was even worse

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Brand Relevance Has A Lot To Do with Health, Wellness, and Empowerment – Listening to (the) Prophet

s in the seventh annual 2022 Brand Relevance Index from Prophet. The research developed a list of 50 companies representing what Prophet characterizes “the brands that people can’t live without in 2022.” For the 7th year in a row, Apple tops the study. Following Apple, the nine companies rounding out the top ten most relevant brands were Peloton, Spotify, Bose, Android, Instant Pot, Pixar, Fitbit, TED, and USAA. There are relative newbies in this list, representing consumers’ collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic and new life-flows. Put Calm and AfterPay in that category, along with Beyond Meat, and Zelle. The

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Food Insecurity, Energy Prices, and Medical Debt Spike in February 2022

There’s a trifecta cost challenge hitting U.S. household budgets in February 2022, highlighted in a poll from Morning Consult: inflationary spikes for housing, food, and energy, and the COVID-19 Omicron variant forcing health care costs up for some consumers driving medical debt up. This further underscores the reality that medical spending in the U.S. is taking shape as a consumer service or good, competing with — potentially crowding out — other household line items like food and increasingly costly petrol to fill gas tanks. Or taken the other way, gas and food crowding out health care spending, leading to either

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Medical Distancing Is Bad For Your Health

“Social distancing is great. Medical distancing? Not so much,” I observe in Medical Distancing in America: A Lingering Pandemic Side Effect., my essay published this week in Medecision’s Liberate Health blog. Since we learned to spell “coronavirus,” we also learned the meaning and risk-managing importance of physical distance early in the COVID-19 pandemic. But medical distancing became a corollary life-flow of the physical version, and for our collective health and well-being, it hasn’t been good for our health in ways beyond keeping our exposure to the virus at bay. For health care providers — physicians, hospitals, ambulatory clinics, diagnostic centers —

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The Wellness Economy in 2022 Finds Health Consumers Moving from Feel-Good Luxury to Personal Survival Tactics

The Future of Wellness in 2022 is, “shifting from a ‘feel-good’ luxury to survivalism as people seek resilience,” based on the Global Wellness Institute’s forecast on this year’s look into self-care and consumer’s spending on health beyond medical care — looking beyond COVID-19. GWI published two research papers this week on The Future of Wellness and The Global Wellness Economy‘s country rankings as of February 2021. I welcomed the opportunity to spend time for a deep dive into the trends and findings with the GWI community yesterday exploring all of the data, listening through my health economics-consumer-technology lens. First, consider

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Will “Buy Now, Pay Later” Financing Help Health Consumers Pay Their Medical Bills?

Aflac, our favorite duck-mascot-representing company, has launched the Close the Gap initiative featuring spokesman Deion Sanders, one of the good guys in the Football Hall of Fame. Recognizing the fact that nearly one-half of insured Americans don’t have enough in savings to pay for medical expenses, the company established the Aflac Care Index to educate and advocate for peoples’ health and financial security — including those people who have health care coverage. While U.S. consumers are facing historically high levels of inflation for household spending on food, petrol, and home goods, health consumers will be dealing with greater out-of-pocket spending based

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Mental Health at CES 2022 – The Consumer’s Context for Wellbeing in the New Year

As we enter COVID-19’s “junior year,” one unifying experience shared by most humans are feelings of pandemic fatigue: anxiety, grief, burnout, which together diminish our mental health. There are many signposts pointing to the various flavors of mental and behavioral health challenges, from younger peoples’ greater risk of depression and suicide ideation to increased deaths of despair due to overdose among middle-aged people. And about one-in-three Americans has made a 2022 New Year’s resolution involving some aspect of mental health, the American Psychiatric Association noted approaching the 2021 winter holiday season. Underneath this overall statistic are important differences across various

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Health Care Planning for 2022 – Start with a Pandemic, Then Pivot to Health and Happiness

One of my favorite Dr. Seuss characters is the narrator featured in the book, I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla-Sollew. I frequently use this book when conducting futures and scenario planning sessions with clients in health/care. “The story opens with our happy-go-lucky narrator taking  a stroll through the Valley of Vung where nothing went wrong,” the Seussblog explains. Then one day, our hero (shown here on the right side of the picture from the book) is not paying attention to where he is walking….thus admitting, “And I learned there are troubles of more than one kind, some come from

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The 2022 Health Populi TrendCast for Consumers and Health Citizens

I cannot recall a season when so many health consumer studies have been launched into my email inbox. While I have believed consumers’ health engagement has been The New Black for the bulk of my career span, the current Zeitgeist for health care consumerism reflects that futurist mantra: “”We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run,” coined by Roy Amara, past president of Institute for the Future. That well-used and timely observation is known as Amara’s Law. This feels especially apt right “now” as we enter 2022,

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3 in 4 Insured Americans Worried About Medical Bills — Especially Women

In the U.S., being covered by health insurance is one of the social determinants of health. Without a health plan, an uninsured person in America is far more likely to file for bankruptcy due to medical costs, and lack access to needed health care (and especially primary care). But even with health insurance coverage, most health-insured people are concerned about medical costs in America, found in a MITRE-Harris Poll on U.S. consumers’ health insurance perspectives published today. “Even those fortunate to have insurance struggle with bills that result from misunderstanding or underestimating costs of treatments and procedures,” Juliette Espinosa of

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Aflac Finds Health Care and Financial Stress will “Dampen 2021 Holiday Magic” in U.S. Households

Most U.S. householders that experienced COVID-19 expect their 2021 December holidays will be impacted in terms of reducing their holiday gift or decor spending, canceling holiday travel plans to see family or friends, or canceling holiday events, according to the 2021 Aflac Health Care Issues Survey. Aflac polled 1,003 U.S. adults in September 2021 to gauge Americans’ financial health perspectives approaching the end of Year 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic in America. Families with children feel particularly strapped for the 2021 holiday season: while they will be less likely to reduce holiday spending, one-half are concerned about medical expenses compared with

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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’

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Best Buy Buys Current Health As Our Homes Morph Into Health Spaces

Best Buy continues to grow its health/care market footprint and service portfolio through remote health monitoring, first announced in the press release, Best Buy to acquire Current Health to help make home the center of health. The financial deal was disclosed yesterday at £300 million, about $400 million US dollars (FYI, Current Health is based in Scotland, thus value given in pounds sterling, with a particularly strong US $ exchange right now at 1.34). Remote monitoring has been part of Best Buy Health’s vision from the time the company explained its big audacious goals for the health ecosystem in 2018

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Does Inequality Matter in the U.S.? Health and the Great Gatsby Curve

Compared with the rest of the developed world, people living in the U.S. may be concerned about income inequality, but their demand for income redistribution is the lowest among peer citizens living in 31 other OECD countries. In their  latest report, Does Inequality Matter? the OECD examines how people perceive economic disparities and social mobility across the OECD 32 (the world’s developed countries from “A” Australia to “U,” the United Kingdom). Overall the OECD 32 average fraction of people who believe it is the government’s responsibility to reduce income differences among those who think disparities are too large is 80%

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The Cost to Cover Health Insurance for a Family in America Is $22,221

Even with growing inflation in the U.S. and post-pandemic job growth in 2021, the cost of health insurance premiums rose faster than either the price of goods or wages. That family health plan premium reached $22,221, an increase of 22% since 2016, we learn in the annual report from Kaiser Family Foundation, 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey. This report is our go-to encyclopedia of statistics on health insurance year-after-year, surveying companies’ annual health insurance strategies for coverage and tactics for managing spending and workers’ health outcomes. This 2021 update takes into account the impacts and influence of COVID-19 on workers’

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Health Plan Consumer Experience Scores Reflect Peoples’ Digital Transformation – ACSI Speaks

In the U.S., peoples’ expectations of their health care experience is melding with their best retail experience — and that’s taken a turn toward their digital and ecommerce life-flows. The American Customer Satisfaction Index Insurance and Health Care Study 2020-2021 published today, recognizing consumers’ value for the quality of health insurance companies’ mobile apps and reliability of those apps. Those digital health expectations surpass peoples’ benchmarks for accessing primary care doctors and specialty care doctors and hospitals, based on ACSI’s survey conducted among 12,274 customers via email. The study was fielded between October 2020 and September 2021. Year on year,

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Be Mindful About What Makes Health at HLTH

“More than a year and a half into the COVID-19 outbreak, the recent spread of the highly transmissible delta variant in the United States has extended severe financial and health problems in the lives of many households across the country — disproportionately impacting people of color and people with low income,” reports Household Experiences in America During the Delta Variant Outbreak, a new analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR, and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. As the HLTH conference convenes over 6,000 digital health innovators live, in person, in Boston in the wake of the delta

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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

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A Negative Outlook for US Hospital Margins Through 2021

In the fourth quarter of 2021, U.S. hospital margins will still be lower than before the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaufman, Hall & Associates project in their latest read on hospital finances. Kaufman Hall has been monitoring hospitals’ financial health in the coronavirus era since March 2020, month-by-month. This new report looks into the Financial Effects of COVID-19: Hospital Outlook for the Remainder of 2021. This report was conducted on behalf of the American Hospital Association (AHA), who succinctly summarized the forecast saying, “COVID-19 [is] expected to drive continued hospital losses throughout 2021.” That projection is further couched in the concern that

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CVS (mental)Health – the growth of mental health @ retail

“CVS wants to be your therapist, too,” the Wall Street Journal reported on 31st August, discussing the plans of retail stores, Big Box and pharmacies, adding mental health services to their growing health/care portfolios. The coronavirus spawned an epidemic inside and beyond the pandemic throughout the U.S.: very clear and widespread mental and behavioral health impacts that have become a new and transparent normal in America. Enter CVS Health, joining retail health competitors such as Walgreens and Walmart, both of which have been growing services to help consumers access help to deal with anxiety, depression, and stress. The first chart

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Why Is So Much “Patient Experience” Effort Focused on Financial Experience?

Financial Experience (let’s call it FX) is the next big thing in the world of patient experience and health care. Patients, as health consumers, have taken on more of the financial risk for health care payments. The growth of high-deductible health plans as well as people paying more out-of-pocket exposes patients’ wallets in ways that implore the health care industry to serve up a better retail experience for patients. But that just isn’t happening. One of the challenges has been price transparency, which is the central premise of this weekend’s New York Times research-rich article by reporters Sarah Kliff and

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Can the U.S. Improve Health System Performance with Digital Health Tools? Pondering A Big Question for #HIMSS21

Simply put, is the equation, “Spend more, get less” a sustainable business model? Of course not. But that’s the simple math on U.S. health care spending and what comes from it, according to Mirror, Mirror 2021: Reflecting Poorly, a perennial report from The Commonwealth Fund that compares health system performance across eleven developed countries. The first table details the metrics that the Fund compares across the eleven peer nations, which included Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The metrics compared were access to care, care process, administrative efficiency, equity,

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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

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Women’s Health Re-shaped by COVID-19

While women continue to outlive men in the U.S. in terms of life expectancy, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed continued healthcare access, physical and mental health disparities, and economic inequities for women in America. I addressed the changing state of post-pandemic women’s health in my latest contribution to the Medecision Liberation blog. This first graphic illustrates how women interacted with the U.S. health system during the pandemic in 2020. These data come from Kaiser Family Foundation’s women’s health survey conducted from the beginning of the pandemic starting March 1, 2020, and discovered that women in poorer or fair more likely went

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Medical Debt in the U.S. Greater in States That Did Not Expand Medicaid

The level of medical debt in America exceeded debt of other types in 2020. Furthermore, the flow of medical debt was greater among health citizens living in states that did not expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, compared with patients who reside in Medicaid expansion states, according to an original research essay, Medical Debt in the US, 2009-2020 published in JAMA on 20 July 2021. The first line chart illustrates the trends in medical debt in collections by state expansion of Medicaid, with the bottom darkest line representing debt in collections in Medicaid expansion states from the

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CVS Finds Differences in Mental and Behavioral Health Among Men Vs. Women in the Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic shifts to a more endemic phase — becoming part of peoples’ everyday life for months to come — impacts on peoples’ mental health will persist, according to new research from CVS Health in the company’s annual Health Care Insights Study. CVS conducted the annual Health Care Insights Study among 1,000 U.S. adults in March 2021. To complement the consumer study, an additional survey was undertaken among 400 health care providers including primary care physicians and specialists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, RNs and pharmacists. CVS has been tracking the growing trend of health care consumerism in the

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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

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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

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The Healthiest Communities in the U.S. After the Pandemic – U.S. News & Aetna Foundation’s Post-COVID Lists

Some of America’s least-healthy communities are also those that index greater for vaccine hesitancy and other risks for well-being, found in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Healthiest Communities Rankings. U.S. News collaborated with the Aetna Foundation, CVS Health’s philanthropic arm, in this fourth annual list of the top geographies for well-being in the U.S. Six of the top ten healthiest towns in America are located in the state of Colorado. But #1 belongs to Los Alamos County, New Mexico, which also ranked first in ___. Beyond Colorado and New Mexico, we find that Virginia fared well for health in

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One in Two Americans with Work-Based Insurance Worries That Healthcare Costs Could Lead to Bankruptcy

One in two people in the U.S. with employer-sponsored health insurance worry that a major health event in their household could lead to bankruptcy, according to research gathered by West Health and Gallup in Business Speaks: The Future of Employer-Sponsored Insurance. Gallup and West Health presented their study in a webinar earlier this week; in today’s post, I feature a few key data points that particularly resonate as I celebrate/appreciate yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (i.e., California v. Texas) combined with a new study published in JAMA Network Open, discussed below the digital fold in

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Post-Pandemic, U.S. Healthcare is Entering a “Provide More Care For Less” Era – Pondering PwC’s 2022 Forecast

In the COVID-19 pandemic, health care spending in the U.S. increased by a relatively low 6.0% in 2020. This year, medical cost trend will rise by 7.0%, expected to decline a bit in 2022 according to the annual study from PwC Health Research Institute, Medical Cost Trend: Behind the Numbers 2022. What’s “behind these numbers” are factors that will increase medical spending (the “inflators” in PwC speak) and the “deflators” that lower costs. Looking around the future corner, the inflators are expected to be: A COVID-19 “hangover,” leading to increased health care services utilization Preparations for the next pandemic, and

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The Cost of Health Care for a Family of 4 in America Will Reach $28,256 in 2021

The good news for health care costs for a family of four in America is that they fell, for the first time in like, ever, in 2020. But like a déjà vu all over again, annual health care costs for a family of four enrolled in a PPO will climb to over $28,000 in 2021, based on the latest 2021 Milliman Medical Index (MMI). The first chart shows how health care costs declined in our Year of COVID, 2020, by over $1,000 for that hypothetical U.S. family. But costs rise with a statistical vengeance this year, by nearly $2,200 per family–about

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Health Care Costs for a Couple in Retirement in the U.S. Reach $300,000

To pay for health care expenses, the average nest-egg required for a couple retiring in the U.S. in 2021 will be $300,000 according to the 20th annual Fidelity Investments Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate. I’ve tracked this survey for over a decade here on Health Populi, and updated the annual chart shown here to reflect a $40,000 increase in retiree costs since 2016. While the rate of increase year-on-year since then has slowed, the $300,000 price-tag for retiree health care costs is a huge number few Americans have saved for. That $300K splits up unequally for an opposite-gender couple (in

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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

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And the Oscar Goes To….Power to the Patients!

Health care has increased its role in popular culture over the years. In movies in particular, we’ve seen health care costs and hassles play featured in plotlines in As Good as it Gets [theme: health insurance coverage], M*A*S*H [war and its medical impacts are hell], and Philadelphia [HIV/AIDS in the era of The Band Played On], among dozens of others. And this year’s Oscar winner for leading actor, Anthony Hopkins, played The Father, who with his family is dealing with dementia. [The film, by the way, garnered six nominations and won two]. When I say “Oscar” here on the Health

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The Pandemic’s Death Rate in the U.S.: High Per Capita Income, High Mortality

The United States has among the highest per capita incomes in the world. The U.S. also has sustained among the highest death rates per 100,000 people due to COVID-19, based on epidemiological data from the World Health Organization’s March 28, 2021, update. Higher incomes won’t prevent a person from death-by-coronavirus, but risks for the social determinants of health — exacerbated by income inequality — will and do. I have the good fortune of access to a study group paper shared by Paul Sheard, Research Fellow at the Mossaver-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. In reviewing

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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

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Housing as Prescription for Health/Care – in Medecision Liberation

COVID-19 ushered in the era of our homes as safe havens for work, shopping, education, fitness-awaking, bread-baking, and health-making. In my latest essay written for Medecision, I weave together new and important data and evidence supporting the basic social determinant of health — shelter, housing, home — and some innovations supporting housing-as-medicine from CVS Health, UnitedHealth Group, AHIP, Brookings Institution, the Urban Land Institute, and other stakeholders learning how housing underpins our health — physical, mental, financial. Read about a wonderful development from Communidad Partners, working with the Veritas Impact Partners group, channeling telehealth to housing programs serving residents with

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How to Restore Americans’ Confidence in U.S. Health Care: Deal With Access and Cost

With a vaccine supply proliferating in the U.S. and more health citizens getting their first jabs, there’s growing optimism in America looking to the next-normal by, perhaps, July 4th holiday weekend as President Biden reads the pandemic tea leaves. But that won’t mean Americans will be ready to return to pre-pandemic health care visits to hospital and doctor’s offices. Now that hygiene protocols are well-established in health care providers’ settings, at least two other major consumer barriers to seeking care must be addressed: cost and access. The latest (March 2021) Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll learned that at least one

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“Hope Springs Eternal” With the COVID Vaccine for Both Joe Biden and Most People in the U.S.

More Americans are happier in March 2021 than they’ve been for a year, based on consumer research from Civic Science polling U.S. adults in early March 2021. For the first time, a larger percent of Americans said they were better off financially since the start of the pandemic. This week, Civic Science shared their latest data on what they’re seeing beyond the coronavirus quarantine era to forecast trends that will shape a post-COVID America. Buoying peoples’ growing optimism was the expectation of the passage of the American Cares Act, which President Biden signed into effect yesterday. The HPA-CS Economic Sentiment Index

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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

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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

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Americans Lost Future Life-Years in 2020: How Much Life Was Lost Depends on the Color of One’s Skin

Some people remark about 2020 being a “lost year” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. That happens to be a true statement, sadly not in jest: in the U.S., life expectancy at birth fell by one full year over the first half of 2020 compared with 2019, to 77.8 years. In 2019, life expectancy at birth was 78.8  years, according to data shared by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Life expectancy at birth declined for both females and males, shown in the first chart. The differences between

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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

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Three in Four People Avoiding Health Care in the Pandemic Have Had Chronic Conditions

By the autumn of 2020, U.S. physicians grew concerned that patients who were avoiding visits to doctor’s offices were missing care for chronic conditions, discussed in in Delayed and Forgone Health Care for Nonelderly Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic from the Urban Institute. More than three-fourths of people who delayed or forewent care had at least one chronic health condition. The pandemic may have led to excess deaths from diabetes, dementia, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke, as well as record drug overdoses in the 12 months ending in May 2020. In their JAMA editorial on these data, Dr. Bauchner and

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Americans A Year Into the Pandemic – A View from Pew

Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the same percent of Americans say strengthening the U.S. economy and dealing with the coronavirus outbreak should be a top priority for President Biden and Congress to address this year, according to data from the Pew Research Center collected during the second week of January 2021. Two-thirds of people in the U.S. also want government leaders to prioritize improving the employment situation, defending against terrorism, and improving the political system, the study learned. At Americans’ low end of the priority list for the President and Congress are dealing with global trade, improving transportation,

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Stay Calm In Your Head(space) – An Update on Meditation-As-Medicine

On U.S. Election Night, November 3, 2020, CNN’s John King stood in front of the “Key Race Alert” screen, announcing state-by-state polling results with the oft-used headline, “Too Early To Call.” That persistent media-moment was stressful for the millions of voters watching the multiple hairline-close battles from state to state. Then there was that company logo strategically placed at the lower left corner of the screen, as in “Brought to you by Calm.” Calm is but one of a growing portfolio of tools that health citizens can use to manage anxiety and stress, get to sleep (and stay sleeping), and

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The Biden Administration’s Whole-of-Government Approach to Equity – in Health and Beyond

In the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed disparities in housing, food, and job security, and the role that one’s ZIP code and social determinants play in health outcomes. Overall, America has done poorly in light of being 4% of the world’s population but having one-fifth of the planet’s deaths due to the coronavirus. But these have disproportionately hit non-white people, who are nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Americans. I’ve been head-down reviewing the first two days of President Biden’s signing Executive Orders, reading the National Strategy for COVID-19 Response, and inventorying line items

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Preaching Health Equity in the Era of COVID on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today as we appreciate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I post a photo of him in my hometown of Detroit in 1963, giving a preliminary version of the “I Have a Dream” speech he would deliver two months later in Washington, DC. Wisdom from the speech: “But now more than ever before, America is forced to grapple with this problem, for the shape of the world today does not afford us the luxury of an anemic democracy. The price that this nation must pay for the continued oppression and exploitation of the Negro or any other minority group is

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The Digital Consumer, Increasingly Connected to Health Devices; Parks Associates Kicking Off #CES2021

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic drove U.S. consumers to increase spending on electronics, notably laptops, smartphones, and desktop computers. But the coronavirus era also saw broadband households spending more on connecting health devices, with 42% of U.S. consumers owning digital health tech compared with 33% in 2015, according to research discussed in Supporting Today’s Connected Consumer from Parks Associates. developed for Sutherland, the digital transformation company. Consumer electronics purchase growth was, “likely driven by new social distancing guidelines brought on by COVID-19, which requires many individuals to work and attend school from home. Among the 26% of US broadband households

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“The virus is the boss” — U.S. lives and livelihoods at the beginning of 2021

“The virus is the boss,” Austan Goolsbee, former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, told Stephanie Ruhle this morning on MSNBC. Goolsbee and Jason Furman, former Chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, tag-teamed the U.S. economic outlook following today’s news that the U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs — the greatest job loss since April 2020 in the second month of the pandemic. The 2020-21 economic recession is the first time in U.S. history that a downturn had nothing to do with the economy per se. As Uwe Reinhardt, health economist guru, is whispering in my

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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

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Consumers Demand Digital Transformation Across Their Health Care Experiences

From appointment scheduling to checking in, payment and clinical encounter follow-up, patients now expect digital experiences across the health care continuum….and really great ones, like they get from Amazon and other platforms that earn high net promoter scores. That is the big message from the 2020 Healthcare Consumer Experience Study published by Cedar, based on the input of 1,502 U.S. adults who paid a medical bill between October 2019 and October 2020. The timing of this study coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. through at least seven months of American patients’ experiences in 2020. Two-thirds

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The Fastest-Growing Brands of 2020 Are All About the Pandemic and Health

Staying home, being clean, staying entertained, eating well, and self-caring for healthcare….these are the major factors underpinning the twenty fastest-growing brands of 2020, based on Morning Consult’s annual look at the topic. Let’s look into these categories by brand, and connect the dots for health, medical care, and well-being… Connectivity as a social determinant of health. Zoom was the fastest-growing brand of the year, with 26% of U.S. consumers saying they would consider purchasing the service in November compared with 11% in January. Zoom morphed from a business meeting platform to a consumer and family-connecting service spiking on holidays like

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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

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How Nurx Is Empowering Women’s Health and Self-Care in the Pandemic Era

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, women have experienced more than the direct physical, clinical impact of COVID-19: beyond “lives,” women’s livelihoods, financial health and emotional well-being have been hard-hit. This is true on both a global basis as well as in the United States. In that context, last week I engaged in a fascinating conversation with Varsha Rao, CEO of Nurx, to discuss the current state of women and health/care in America, and some thoughts about the future. If you’ve had the TV on sometime since March 2020, one of many millions of people in the U.S. spending

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The COVID Healthcare Consumer – 5 Trends Via The Medecision Liberation Blog

The first six months into the coronavirus pandemic shocked the collective system of U.S. consumers for living, learning, laboring, and loving. I absorbed all kinds of data about consumers in the wake of COVID-19 between March and mid-August 2020, culminating in my book, Health Citizenship: How a virus opened hearts and minds, published in September on Kindle and in print in October. In this little primer, I covered the five trends I woven based on all that data-immersion, following up the question I asked at the end of my previous book, HealthConsuming: when and how would Americans claim their health

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The Pandemic Has Been a Shock to Our System – Learning from Known

The coronavirus pandemic has been a shock to people across all aspects of everyday living, for older and younger people, for work and school, for entertainment and travel — all impacting our hearts, minds, and wallets. “As the bedrock of daily life was shaken, uncertainty predictably emerged as the prevailing emotion of our time but this universal problem was eliciting a highly differentiated reaction in different people,” Kern Schireson, CEO of Known, observed. His company has conducted a large quantitative and qualitative research program culminating in a first report, The Human Condition 2020: A Shock To The System. Known’s team of

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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

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Stress in America, Like COVID-19, Impacts All Americans

With thirteen days to go until the U.S. #2020Elections day, 3rd November, three in four Americans say the future of America is a significant source of stress, according to the latest Stress in America 2020 study from the American Psychological Association. Furthermore, seven in 10 U.S. adults believe that “now” is the lowest point in the nation’s history that they can remember. “We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come,” APA introduces their latest read into stressed-out America. Two in three people in the U.S. say that the

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Women’s Health Policy Advice for the Next Occupant of the White House: Deal With Mental Health, the Pandemic, and Health Care Costs

2020 marked the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote. In this auspicious year for women’s voting rights, as COVID-19 emerged in the U.S. in February, women’s labor force participation rate was 58%. Ironic timing indeed: the coronavirus pandemic has been especially harmful to working women’s lives, the Brookings Institution asserted last week in their report in 19A: The Brookings Gender Equality Series. A new study from Tia, the women’s health services platform, looks deeply into COVID-19’s negative impacts on working-age women and how they would advise the next occupant of

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The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Accelerated Our Demand for Wellness – Learning from Ogilvy

Every company is a tech company, strategy consultants asserted over the past decade. The coronavirus pandemic has revealed that every company is a health and wellness company now, at least in the eyes of consumers around the world. In The Wellness Gap, the health and wellness team at Ogilvy explores the mindsets of consumers in 14 countries to learn peoples’ perspectives on wellness brands and how COVID-19 has impacted consumers’ priorities. A total of 7,000 interviews were conducted in April 2020, in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America — including 500 interviews in the U.S. The first chart illustrates

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Black Health Should Matter More in America: The Undefeated Survey on Race and Health

In 2020, most Black people, men and women alike, feel it is a bad time to be Black in America. More than twice as many Black men believed that in 2020 compared with 2006. More than four times as many Black women believed that it’s a bad time to be Black in America in 2020 versus 2011, we learn in  The Undefeated Survey on Race and Health from Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). KFF collaborated with The Undefeated, ESPN’s project that focuses on sports, race, and culture. The Undefeated program was started in May 2016, and has become a thought leader

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In the Past Ten Years, Workers’ Health Insurance Premiums Have Grown Much Faster Than Wages

For a worker in the U.S. who benefits from health insurance at the workplace, the annual family premium will average $21,342 this year, according to the 2020 Employer Health Benefits Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The first chart illustrates the growth of the premium shares split by employer and employee contributions. Over ten years, the premium dollars grew from $13,770 in 2010 to $21K in 2020. The worker’s contribution share was 29% in 2010, and 26% in 2020. Single coverage reached $7,470 in 2020 and was $5,049 in 2010. Roughly the same proportion of companies offered health benefits to

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Social Determinants of Health Travel in Groups – At the Root Is Household Income

The U.S. health care community is collectively embracing the concept of social determinants of health that have become so obvious in understanding the disparities of health outcomes wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. Research from the Harvard Chan School of Public Health conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and NPR illustrates the fact that people who are at risk for one social determinant of health tend to be challenged by a bucket of them. The survey research reported in The Impact of Coronavirus on Households With Children, published on 30th September, found that 61% of U.S. households with children had

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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

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Health Citizenship in America. If Not Now, When?

On February 4th, 2020, in a hospital in northern California, the first known inpatient diagnosed with COVID-19 died. On March 11th, the World Health Organization called the growing prevalence of the coronavirus a “pandemic.” On May 25th, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died at the hands of police in Minneapolis. This summer, the Dixie Chicks dropped the “Dixie” from their name, and NASCAR cancelled the confederate flag from their tracks. Today, nearly 200,000 Americans have died due to the novel coronavirus. My new book, Health Citizenship: How a virus opened hearts and minds, launched this week. In it, I

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Only in America: The Loss of Health Insurance as a Toxic Financial Side Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In terms of income, U.S. households entered 2020 in the best financial shape they’d been in years, based on new Census data released earlier this week. However, the U.S. Census Bureau found that the level of health insurance enrollment fell by 1 million people in 2019, with about 30 million Americans not covered by health insurance. In fact, the number of uninsured Americans rose by 2 million people in 2018, and by 1.9 million people in 2017. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the erosion of the health insured population. What havoc a pandemic can do to minds, bodies, souls, and wallets. By September 2020,

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50 Days Before the U.S. Elections, Voters Say Health Care Costs and Access Top Their Health Concerns — More than COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed deep cracks and inequities in U.S. health care in terms of exposure to COVID-19 and subsequent outcomes, with access to medical care and mortality rates negatively impacting people of color to a greater extent than White Americans. The pandemic has also led to economic decline that, seven weeks before the 2020 elections in America, is top-of-mind for health citizens with the virus-crisis itself receding to second place, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation September 2020 Health Tracking Poll. KFF polled 1,199 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older between August 28 and September 3,

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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

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The Burden of Depression in the Pandemic – Greater Among People With Fewer Resources

In the U.S., symptoms of depression were three-times greater in April 2020 in the COVID-19 pandemic than in 2017-2018. And rates for depression were even higher among women versus men, along with people earning lower incomes, losing jobs, and having fewer “social resources” — that is, at greater risk of isolation and loneliness. America’s health system should be prepared to deal with a “probable increase” in mental illness after the pandemic, researchers recommend in Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic in JAMA Network Open. A multidisciplinary team knowledgeable in medicine, epidemiology, public health,

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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

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Health Insurance Affordability in the Time of the Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed many flaws in the U.S. healthcare system, first and foremost the nation’s patchwork public health infrastructure and health inequities in mortality rates due to COVID-19. The Commonwealth Fund‘s biennial report, published as the pandemic continues into and beyond the third quarter of 2020, sheds light on another weakness in U.S. healthcare: the cost of health insurance relative to working Americans’ relatively flat incomes. I explored the details of this study in a post titled Health Insurance Affordability: A Call-to-Action for Healthcare Industry Stakeholders in the Pandemic, published on the Medecision Liberation blog site. The survey

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My ABCovid-19 Journal – Day 5 of 5, Letters “U” through “Z”

We’ve had a lovely week on Seneca Lake, re-setting our physical, mental, and emotional clocks in the #KahnCave. It’s been blissful. I’ve enjoyed receiving feedback on the past four days of ABCovid-19 journal shares on my LinkedIn page and Twitter feed @HealthyThinker. My #arttherapy is yours for the sharing and taking. We are all, truly, on this pandemic journey together. That’s public health, for you. Today, I bring you the fifth and last day of sharing my COVID-19 alphabet with you: the letters “U” through “Z.” Read on, and please let me know after seeing all 26 alpha’s which page(s)

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My ABCovid-19 Journal – Day 1 of 5, “A” through “E”

My friends… It’s time in this pandemic journey that I take a full week to re-charge and bask in the midst of nature, a lake, farm-to-table food, wine-making, and the love of and therapeutic time with my wonderful husband. My gift to you all this week, 10th – 14th August, is to share with you pages from my “ABCovid-19 Journal” that I created/curated in the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. We all have our hacks for managing stress and discomfort, and in the first weeks of COVID-19, this was my life-saver. Journaling is one of my self-care strategies; think

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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

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We Are All About Hygiene, Groceries, and Personal Care in the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Pass me the Clorox…tip the UPS driver…love thy grocer. These are our daily life-flows in the Age of COVID-19. Our basic needs are reflected in the new 2020 Axios-Harris Poll, released today. For the past several years, I’ve covered the Harris Poll of companies’ reputation rankings here in Health Populi. Last year, Wegmans, the grocer, ranked #1; Amazon, #2. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. consumers’ basic needs are emerging as health and hygiene, food, and technology, based on the new Axios-Harris Poll on the top 100 companies. This year’s study was conducted in four waves, with the

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Return-To-School Is Stressing Out U.S. Parents Across Income, Race and Political Party

The worse of the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come, most Americans felt in July 2020. That foreboding feeling is shaping U.S. parents’ concerns about their children returning to school, with the calendar just weeks away from educators opening their classrooms to students, from kindergarten to the oldest cohort entering senior year of high school. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s July 2020 Health Tracking Poll focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic, return-to-school, and the governments’ response. KFF polled 1,313 U.S. adults 18 and older between July 14 to 19, 2020. The first line chart illustrates Americans’ growing concerns about the coronavirus, shifting

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The Median Hospital Charge In the U.S. for COVID-19 Care Ranges From $34-45K

The median charge for hospitalizing a patient with COVID-19 ranged from $34,662 for people 23 to 30, and $45,683 for people between 51 and 60 years of age, according to FAIR Health’s research brief, Key Characteristics of COVID-19 Patients published July 14th, 2020. FAIR Health based these numbers on private insurance claims associated with COVID-19 diagnoses, evaluating patient demographics (age, gender, geography), hospital charges and estimated allowed amounts, and patient comorbidities. They used two ICD-10-CM diagnostic codes for this research: U07.1, 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease; and, B97.29, other coronavirus as the cause of disease classified elsewhere which was the original code

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A Toxic Side Effect of the Coronavirus: Financial Unwellness

One in two people in the U.S. say their financial health has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, through job loss, income disruption, or reduced work hours. The 2020 Financial Wellness Census, from Prudential found that one-half of U.S. adults are anxious about their financial future as of May 2020, an increase from 38% in late 2019. Prudential surveyed 3,000 U.S. adults across three generational cohorts: Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. The economic hit from the pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color, younger people, women, small business owners, gig workers, and people working in retailer harder than

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Trust Is a Key Social Currency for COVID-Embattled Consumers

The coronavirus pandemic has re-shaped patients into consumers, concerned about managing the risk of contracting the virus, millions of people experiencing months of sheltering, working, learning, and cooking at home. Combine these new life-flows with conflicting information about the nature, severity, and life-span of COVID-19: From three levels of government leaders: The President and the Executive Branch at the Federal Level, Governors of States, and Mayors of cities; Public health agencies, especially the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization; Mass media; and, Social media. Re-entering life in the “next normal” requires a large dose of trust,

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