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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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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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Social Determinants of Health Risks Challenge the Promise of Hospital-to-Home

In the wake of the pandemic and growing consumer preferences, the hospital-to-home movement is gaining traction among health systems. Amidst bullish forecasts for the promise of hospital-to-home discharges, the ability for many patients to make this migration would be a difficult bridge to cross.           On the promising front, recent studies reviewed through a meta-analysis published in JAMA found that hospital-to-home programs can be clinically and cost-effective for inpatients discharged from hospital. Earlier this year, McKinsey addressed how “Care at Home” ecosystems can reshape the way health systems — and people — envision patient care. This

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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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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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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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Go Local and Go Beyond Medical Care: What Hospitals, Health Plans, and Pharma Can Do to Rebuild Trust

Without trust, people do not engage with health care providers, health plans, or life science companies….nor do many people accept “science fact.” I explore the sad state of Trust and Health Care. published in the Medecision Liberate Health blog, with a positive and constructive call-to-action for health care industry stakeholders to consider in re-building this basic driver of well-being. That is, trust as a determinant of health. Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer came out in January 2022, coinciding as it annually does with the World Economic Forum’s meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Every year, WEF convenes the world’s biggest thinkers to wrestle with the

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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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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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From Better for Me to Better for “We” — NielsenIQ’s New Consumer Hierarchy of Health

People around the world have made health a “proactive priority,” most important to live a longer, healthier life, to avoid preventable diseases, to protect against disease, and to look and feel healthier, according to NielsenIQ’s latest health and wellness report. As the triangle here illustrates, NielsenIQ has turned Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs upside down, shifting protective and physical needs to the top rung and altruistic — the “me-to-we” ethos — at the base. Note the translations of these needs, on the ride, into the “care” flows — moving from urgent care down to self-care, preventive care, innovative care, and selfless

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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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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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Consider Mental Health Equity on World Mental Health Day

COVID-19 exacted a toll on health citizens’ mental health, worsening a public health challenge that was already acute before the pandemic. It’s World Mental Health Day, an event marked by global and local stakeholders across the mental health ecosystem. On the global front, the World Health Organization (WHO) describes the universal phenomenon and burden of mental health on the Earth’s people… Nearly 1 billion people have a mental disorder Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, impacting about 5% of the world’s population People with severe mental disorders like schizophrenia tend to die as much as 20 years earlier

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Health Disparities in America: JAMA Talks Structural Racism in U.S. Health Care

“Racial and ethnic inequities in the US health care system have been unremitting since the beginning of the country. In the 19th and 20th centuries, segregated black hospitals were emblematic of separate but unequal health care,” begins the editorial introducing an entire issue of JAMA dedicated to racial and ethnic disparities and inequities in medicine and health care, published August 17, 2021. This is not your typical edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The coronavirus pandemic has changed so many aspects of American health care for so many people, including doctors. Since the second quarter of 2020,

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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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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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Dollar General, the Latest Retail Health Destination?

“What if…healthcare happened where we live, work, play, pray and shop, delivering the highest levels of retail experience?” I asked and answered in my book HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen. The chapter called “The new retail health” began with that “what if,” and much of the book responded with the explanation of patients evolving toward health consumers and, ultimately, health citizens empowered and owning their health and care. This week, Dollar General announced the hiring of its first Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Albert Wu. With that announcement, America’s largest dollar-store chain makes clear its ambitions to join a

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Digital Inclusion As Upstream Health Investment

Without access to connectivity during the pandemic, too many people could not work for their living, attend school and learn, connect with loved ones, or get health care. The COVID-19 era has shined a bright light on what some of us have been saying since the advent of the Internet’s emergence in health care: that digital literacies and connectivity are “super social determinants of health” because they underpin other social determinants of health, discussed in Digital inclusion as a social determinant of health, published in Nature’s npj Digital Medicine. On the downside, lack of access to digital tools and literacies

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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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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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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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A BA Degree as Prescription for a Longer Life – Update on Deaths of Despair from Deaton and Case

“Without a four-year college diploma, it is increasingly difficult to build a meaningful and successful life in the United States,” according to an essay in PNAS, Life expectancy in adulthood is falling for those without a BA degree, but as educational gaps have widened, racial gaps have narrowed by Anne Case and Angus Deaton. Case and Deaton have done extensive research on the phenomenon of Deaths of Despair, the growing epidemic of mortality among people due to accidents, drug overdoses, and suicide. Case and Deaton wrote the book on Deaths of Despair (detailed here in Health Populi),  Case and Deaton

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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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The Economics of the Pandemic Put Costs at the Top of Americans’ Health Reform Priorities

A major side-effect of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 was its impact on the national U.S. economy, jobs, and peoples’ household finances — in particular, medical spending. In 2021, patients-as-health-consumers seek lower health care and prescription drug costs coupled with higher quality care, discovered by the patient advocacy coalition, Consumers for Quality Care. This broad-spanning patient coalition includes the AIMED Alliance, Autism Speaks, the Black AIDS Institute, Black Women’s Health Initiative, Center Forward, Consumer Action. Fair Foundation, First Focus, Global Liver Institute, Hydrocephalus Association, LULAC, MANA (a Latina advocacy organization), Myositis Association, National Consumers League, National Health IT Collaborative, National Hispanic

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The Remarkable Rise of Pharma’s Reputation in the Pandemic

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

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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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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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Call It Deferring Services or Self-Rationing, U.S. Consumers Are Still Avoiding Medical Care

Patients in the U.S. have been self-rationing medical care for many years, well before any of us knew what “PPE” meant or how to spell “coronavirus.” Nearly a decade ago, I cited the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Security Watch of May 2012 here in Health Populi. The first chart here shows that one in four U.S. adults had problems paying medical bills, largely delaying care due to cost for a visit or for prescription drugs. Fast-forward to 2020, a few months into the pandemic in the U.S.: PwC found consumers were delaying treatment for chronic conditions. In October 2020, The American Cancer

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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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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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Consumers Seek Health Features in Homes: How COVID Is Changing Residential Real Estate

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted everything that could “come home,” home. THINK: tele-work, home schooling for both under-18s and college students, home cooking, entertainment, working out, and even prayer. All of this DIY-from-home stuff has been motivated by both mandates to #StayHome and #WorkFromHome by government leaders, as well as consumers seeking refuge from contracting COVID-19. This risk-shift to our homes has led consumers to re-orient their demands for home purchase features. Today, home is ideally defined as a safe place, offering comfort and refuge for families, discovered in the America at Home Study. The Study is a joint project of

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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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Rebuilding Resilience, Trust, and Health – Deloitte’s Latest on Health Care and Sustainability

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated health care providers’ and plans’ investment in digital technologies while reducing capital spending on new physical assets, we learn in Building resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. What must be built (or truly re-built), health care leaders believe, is first and foremost trust, followed by financial viability to ensure long-term resilience and sustainability — for the workforce, the organization, the community, and leaders themselves. For this report, Deloitte interviewed 60 health care chief financial officers to gauge their perspectives during the pandemic looking at the future of

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The COVID-19 Era Has Grown Health Consumer Demand for Virtual Care

Over one-half of Americans would likely use virtual care for their healthcare services, and one in four people would actually prefer a virtual relationship with a primary care physician, according to the fifth annual 2020 Consumer Sentiment Survey from UnitedHealthcare. What a difference a pandemic can make in accelerating patients’ adoption of digital health tools. This survey was conducted in mid-September 2020, and so the results demonstrate U.S. health consumers’ growing digital health “muscles” in the form of demand and confidence in using virtual care. One in four people would consider online options as their first-line to evaluating personal health

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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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Financial Health Is On Americans’ Minds Just Weeks Before the 2020 Elections

Financial health is part of peoples’ overall health. As Americans approach November 3, 2020, the day of the real-time U.S. Presidential and down-ballot elections, personal home economics are front-of-mind. Twenty-seven days before the 2020 elections, 7 in 10 Americans say their financial health will influence their votes this year, according  to the doxoINSIGHTS survey which shows personal financial health as a key voter consideration in the Presidential election. Doxo, a consumer payments company, conducted a survey among 1,568 U.S. bill-paying households in late September 2020. The study has a 2% margin of error. U.S. voters facing this year’s election are

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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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Redefining PPE As Primary Care, Public Health, and Health Equity – The Community PPE Index

In May 2020, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) re-visited the acronym, “PPE.” As OED evolves the definition of PPE, the wordsmiths could borrow from OSHA’s website, noting that PPE, “is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, or coveralls, vests and full body suits.” Perhaps Definition 3 in the OED could be updated by a blog

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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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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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How COVID-19 Is Reshaping Cities and Inspiring Healthcare Innovation

The coronavirus pandemic added a new concept to our collective, popular lexicon: “social distancing” and “physical distancing.” This was one pillar for the public health prescription we were given to help mitigate the spread of a very tricky, contagious virus. A major negative impact of our sheltering in place, working from home, and staying indoors has been a sort of clearing out of cities where people congregate for work, for culture, for entertainment, for education, for travel and tourism…for living out our full and interesting lives and livelihoods. Intel gave Harbor Research a mandate to “re-imagine life in a post-pandemic

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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 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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The Unbearable Heaviness of Healthcare in America – the Change Healthcare/Harris Poll

The phrase, “burden of health care,” has two usual meanings: one, to do with the massive chronic care burden, and the other, involving costs. There’s a third area of burden in U.S. health care — the onerous patient experience in finding and accessing care, assessed in the 2020 Change Healthcare – Harris Poll Consumer Experience Index. Two in three U.S. consumers feel like “every step of the healthcare process is a chore.” That burdensome patient experience leads to one in two people in America avoiding seeking care, the poll found. That’s not just self-rationing health care due to costs, but due

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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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Juneteenth 2020: Inequality and Injustice in Health Care in America

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death,” Martin Luther King, Jr., asserted at the second meeting of the Medical Committee for Human Rights in Chicago on March 25, 1966. This quote has been shortened over the five+ decades since Dr. King told this truth, to the short-hand, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Professor Charlene Galarneau recently enlightened me on Dr. King’s original statement in her seminal essay, “Getting King’s Words Right.” Among

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Saving Money as a Financial Vaccine: BlackRock Finds Consumer Savings Drain and Etsy Sellers Not Saving Much

“Americans are feeling incredible financial pressure as a result of the COVID outbreak,” John Thompson, Chief Program Officer with the Financial Health Network. One in three people in the U.S. has skipped or stopped paying a bill, and over half of Americans have used emergency savings, according to a survey from the BlackRock Emergency Savings Initiative (ESI). BlackRock, the investment firm, allocated $50 million in February 2019 to form the ESI, focused on helping people with lower incomes to bolster savings and financial health. BlackRock partners in the ESI with the Financial Health Network, CommonWealth, the Center for Advanced Hindsight Common

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Financial Insecurity Among U.S. Workers Will Worsen in the Pandemic — Especially for Women

Millions of mainstream, Main Street Americans entered 2020 feeling income inequality and financial insecurity in the U.S. The coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating financial stress in America, hitting women especially hard, based on PwC’s 9th annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey COVID-19 Update. For this report, PwC polled 1,683 full-time employed adults between 18 and 75 years of age in January 2020. While the survey was conducted just as the pandemic began to emerge in the U.S., PwC believes, “the areas of concern back in January will only be more pronounced today,” reflecting, “the realities of the changing employee circumstances we are

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Stress in America – COVID-19 Takes Toll on Finances, Education, Basic Needs and Parenting

“The COVID-19 pandemic has altered every aspect of American life, from health and work to education and exercise,” the new Stress in America 2020 study from the American Psychological Association begins. The APA summarizes the impact of these mass changes on the nation: “The negative mental health effects of the coronavirus may be as serious as the physical health implications,” with COVID-19 stressors hitting all health citizens in the U.S. in different ways. Beyond the risk of contracting the virus, the Great Lockdown of the U.S. economy has stressed the U.S. worker and the national economy, with 7 in 10

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How COVID-19 Is Driving More Deaths of Despair

In the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all feel like we are living in desperate times. If you are a person at-risk of dying a Death of Despair, you’re even more at-risk of doing so in the wake of the Coronavirus in America. Demonstrating this sad fact of U.S. life, the Well Being Trust and Robert Graham Center published Projected Deaths of Despair from COVID-19. The analysis quantifies the impact of isolation and loneliness combined with the dramatic economic downturn and mass unemployment with the worsening of mental illness and income inequity on the epidemic of Deaths of

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TransUnion Reveals the Home Economics and Social Determinants of COVID-19

  Today, 7th May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that about 3.17 million jobs were lost in the nation in the last week. This calculated to an unemployment rate of 15.5%, an increase of 3.1% points from the previous week. Total jobs lost in the COVID-19 pandemic, starting from the utterance of the “P” word, has been ___ in the I.S. The virus’s global impact has led to what IMF called the Great Lockdown, resulting in economic inertia and contraction since Asia and Europe reported the first patients diagnosed with the coronavirus. The economic impact the world

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How COVID-19 is Hurting Americans’ Home Economics in 2020

Beyond the physical and clinical aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic are financial hits that people are taking in the shutdown of large parts of the U.S. economy, impacting jobs, wages, and health insurance rolls. Some 1 in 2 people in the U.S. who have had their income impacted by the coronavirus have either fallen behind in paying off credit card debt or other bills, had problems paying for utilities, have lagged in paying for housing (rent or mortgage), been challenged paying for food, or other out-of-pocket costs. We learn about these fiscal hits from COVID-10 from the latest Health Tracking Poll

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Health, Wealth & COVID-19 – My Conversation with Jeanne Pinder & Carium, in Charts

The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically impacting and re-shaping our health and wealth, simultaneously. Today, I’ll be brainstorming this convergence in a “collaborative health conversation” hosted by Carium’s Health IRL series.  Here’s a link to the event. Jeanne founded ClearHealthCosts nearly ten years ago, having worked as a journalist with the New York Times and other media. She began to build a network of other journalists, each a node in a network to crowdsource readers’-patients’ medical bills in local markets. Jeanne started in the NYC metro and expanded, one node at a time and through many sources of funding from not-for-profits/foundations,

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The Patient-as-Payor in the Coronavirus Pandemic

One in three working age people in the U.S. lost their job as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of whom lost health insurance and others anxious their health coverage will be threatened, revealed in a survey from The Commonwealth Fund published on April 21, 2020. 2 in 5 people in America who are dealing with job insecurity are also health insurance insecure, the study found, as shown in the pie chart. The Commonwealth Fund commissioned the poll among 1,001 U.S. adults 18 to 64 years of age between 8-13 April 2020. Nearly all Americans believe the dots of

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In the U.S., the Spread of Infectious Disease Now Seen As Bigger Threat Than Terrorism – Pew

The spread of infectious disease is the new terrorism in the eyes of Americans. The most significant major threat to the U.S. is infectious disease, four in five Americans said in March 2020, closely followed by terrorism (in general), the spread of nuclear weapons, and cyberattacks from other countries. For the study, the Pew Research Center commissioned a telephone survey conducted among 1,000 U.S. adults in March 2020. Large majorities of people are also highly concerned about China’s growing power and influence, global climate change, Russia’s power and influence, the condition of the global economy, and global poverty. The percent

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Americans’ Sense of Well-Being Falls to Great Recession Levels, Gallup Finds

It’s déjà vu all over again for Americans’ well-being: we haven’t felt this low since the advent of the Great Recession that hit our well-well-being hard in December 2008. As COVID-19 diagnoses reached 200,000 in the U.S. in April 2020, Gallup gauged that barely 1 in 2 people felt they were thriving. In the past 12 years, the percent of Americans feeling they were thriving hit a peak in 2018, as the life evaluations line graph illustrates. Gallup polled over 20,000 U.S. adults in late March into early April 2020 to explore Americans’ self-evaluations of their well-being. FYI, Gallup asks consumers

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The Coronavirus Impact on American Life, Part 2 – Our Mental Health

As the coronavirus pandemic’s curve of infected Americans ratchets up in the U.S., people are seeking comfort from listening to Dolly Parton’s bedtime stories, crushing on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s science-wrapped-with-empathy, and streaming the Tiger King on Netflix. These and other self-care tactics are taking hold in the U.S. as most people are “social distancing” or sheltering in place, based on numbers from the early April 2020 Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll on the impact of the coronavirus on American life. While the collective practice of #StayHome to #FlattenTheCurve is the best-practice advice from the science leaders at CDC, the NIAID

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The Coronavirus Impact on American Life, Part 1 – Life Disrupted, and Money Concerns

Nearly 3 in 4 Americans see their lives disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the early April Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll. This feeling holds true across most demographic factors: among both parents and people without children; men and women alike; white folks as well as people of color (although fewer people identifying as Hispanic, still a majority). There are partisan differences, however, in terms of who perceives a life-disruption due to COVID-19: 76% of Democrats believe this, 72% of Independents, and 70% of Republicans. Interestingly, only 30% of Republicans felt this way in March 2020, more than

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Estimates of COVID-19 Medical Costs in the US: $20K for inpatient stay, $1300 OOP costs

In the midst of growing inpatient admissions and test results for COVID-19, Congress is working as I write this post to finalize a round of legislation to help Americans with the costs-of-living and (hopefully) health care in a national, mandated, clarifying way. Right now in the real world, real patients are already being treated for COVID-19 in American hospitals. Patients are facing health care costs that may result in multi-thousand dollar bills at discharge (or death) that will decimate households’ financial health, particularly among people who don’t have health insurance coverage, covered by skinny or under-benefited plans, and/or lack banked

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