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

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

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

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

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Americans’ Financial Anxiety Ties to Personal Cash Flow and Health Care

“The Dow Jones Industrial Average was on the brink of claiming a thousand-point milestone for the first time since January 2018, ending the longest period without crossing such a psychologically significant level since the blue-chip benchmark crossed the 19,000 threshold three weeks after Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016,” Mark DeCambre of MarketWatch wrote yesterday morning. He noted that President Trump, “tweeted a simple call-out to the intraday record: ‘Dow just hit 27,000 for first time EVER!'” clipped here from Twitter. Indeed, the U.S. macro-economy has nearly full employment and the stock market hit a high mark this

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Retail Pricing in U.S. Health Care? Why Transparency Is Hard to Do

“It’s the prices stupid,” Uwe Reinhardt and Gerard Anderson and colleagues asserted in the title their seminal Health Affairs manifesto on U.S. healthcare spending. Sixteen years later, yesterday on 8th July 2019, a Federal U.S. judge blocked, in the literal last-minute, a DHHS order mandating prescription drug companies to publish “retail prices” of medicines in direct-to-consumer TV ads. I was getting this post on transparency together just before that announcement hit the press, so this post would have had a different nuance yesterday compared with today. And that’s how health care politics and economics in America roll these days. Welcome to

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

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

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

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

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Health Care and the Democratic Debates – Part 1 – Medicare For All, Rx Prices, Guns and Mental Health

Twenty Democratic Presidential candidates each have a handful of minutes to make their case for scoring the 2020 nomination, “debating” last night and tonight on major issues facing the United States. I watched every minute, iPad at the ready, taking detailed notes during the 120 minutes of political discourse conducted at breakneck speed. Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, and Jose Diaz-Balart asked the ten candidates questions covering guns, butter (the economy), immigration, climate change, and of course, health care — what I’m focusing on in this post, the first of two-debate-days-in-a-row. The first ten of twenty candidates in this debate were,

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Healthcare Costs Inspire Employer Activism and Employee Dissatisfaction – What PwC Found Behind the Numbers

In the U.S. each year between 2006 and 2016, employees’ healthcare cost sharing grew 4.5%. In that decade, Americans’ median wages rose 1.8% a year, PwC notes in their annual report, Medical cost trend: Behind the numbers 2020 from the firm’s Health Research Institute. Medical cost trend is the projected percent growth in healthcare costs over a year based on an equivalent benefit package from one year to the next. As the first chart shows, trend will grow 6% from 2019 to 2020. This is an increase of 0.3 percentage points up from 5.7% for 2019, which was flat from

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Kroger Health Thinks Food is Medicine – Nutrition at the Grocery Store Via FMI’s Insights

In reading the July/August issue of Eating Well magazine this week, I came across this ad which I scanned for you to see yourself: “We believe in food as medicine.” Signed, Kroger Health. Here’s the introductory text in the full-page ad: “As Kroger Health, our vision is to help people live healthier lives. And now, more than ever, through our experts, innovation, and technology, we’re uniquely positioned to bring that vision to life,” the copy read. “We know food,” the text continued, as part of The Kroger Co. which is the largest grocery chain in the U.S. celebrating 135 years

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IKEA Garners the Top Health & Wellness Award at Cannes Lions 2019 – the Expanding Health/Care Ecosystem

“Health is now everyone’s business,” Shaheed Peera, Executive Creative Director of Publicis LifeBrands, said this week at the 2019 Cannes Lions awards. Shaheed also led the Health & Wellness jury at Cannes Lions 2019, the mission of which is to, in the words of the award’s portal, “celebrate creativity for personal wellbeing.” The Grand Prix Lions award for Health & Wellness went to IKEA for the company’s ThisAbles campaign. ThisAbles is a project pioneered by IKEA’s team in Israel, looking to improve everyday living for people with special needs through  well-designed IKEA products. IKEA collaborated with non-profit organizations to develop

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The Most Important Trends For Health in Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Report Aren’t About Health Care

The health care section of Mary Meeker’s 334-page annual report, Internet Trends 2019, comprises 24 of those pages (270 through 293). These two dozen exhibits detail growing adoption of digital tech in health care, the growth of genomics and EHR adoption, examples of these tools from “A” (Apple) to “Z” (Zocdoc), and on the last page of that chapter, medical spending in the U.S., the highest in raw and per capita numbers versus the rest of the world. But the most important implications for American health care aren’t found in those pages: they’re in other parts of the report addressing

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The Grocery Store As Health Destination: Publix Produce for Kids and the Social Determinants of Health

Food insecurity ranks high on Americans’ greatest social health risks. In local communities, grocery stores are playing key roles in bolstering neighborhood wellness. Publix and other food chains, collaborating with the Produce for Kids program, are walking the talk on nutrition for local health citizens. Produce for Kids is associated with Feeding America, which works with local food banks and non-profits to help channel healthy food to children and families. Feeding America is a national network of over 200 food banks fighting hunger in America, serving over 46 million people and 60,000 food pantries, and advocating for legislation that addresses

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Americans Could Foster a Health Consumer Movement, Families USA Envisions

Employers, health care providers, unions, leaders and — first and foremost, consumers — must come together to build a more accessible, affordable health care system in America, proposes a call-to-action fostered by a Families USA coalition called Consumers First: The Alliance to Make the Health Care System Work for Everyone. The diverse partners in this Alliance include the American Academy of Family Physicians, AFSCME (the largest public service employees’ union in the U.S.), the American Benefits Council (which represents employers), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), First Focus (a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization), and the Pacific Business Group on Health

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People Want to Flourish, Not Just Live – Speaking Health Politics to Real People

“How should we define ‘health?'” a 2011 BMJ article asked. The context for the question was that the 1948 World Health Organization definition of health — that health is, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”– was not so useful in the 21st century. The authors, a global, multidisciplinary team from Europe, Canada and the U.S., asserted that by 2011, human health was marked less by infectious disease and more by non-communicable conditions that could be highly influenced, reversed and prevented through self-care by the individual and public health policy

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How Consumers’ Belt-Tightening Could Impact Health/Care – Insights from Deloitte’s Retail Team

Over the ten years between 2007 and 2017, U.S. consumer spending for education, food and health care substantially grew, crowding out spending for other categories like transportation and housing. Furthermore, income disparity between wealthy Americans and people earning lower-incomes dramatically widened: between 2007-2017, income for high-income earners grew 1,305 percent more than lower-incomes. These two statistics set the kitchen table for spending in and beyond 2019, particularly for younger people living in America, considered in  Deloitte’s report, The consumer is changing, but perhaps not how you think. The authors are part of Deloitte Consulting’s Retail team. The retail spending data

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Health Care Costs Still Americans’ Top Financial Worry Among All Money Concerns

Health care costs rank ahead of Americans’ money-worries about low wages and availability of cash, paying for college, house payments, taxes, and debt, according to the latest Gallup poll on peoples’ most important family financial problems in 2019. Medical costs have, in fact, ranked at the top of this list for three years in a row, with a five percentage point rise between 2018 and 2019. No other financial concern had that growth in increase-of-money-worries in the past year. Health care costs rank the top financial problem for people across all income levels. One in five families (19%) earning under

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Patients’ Expectations for Health Beyond Care: Think Food, Exercise, Emotions, Sleep and Finance

People want to make health with their health care providers, and they want more than care from them: most patients are looking for support with healthy eating, exercise, emotional support, sleep, stress management, social relationships, and financial health. And in case physicians, nurses and pharmacists aren’t sufficiently business with that punch-list for health, two in three U.S. patients would also like to receive help in finding a higher purpose. This is the health consumer’s mass call-out for holistic health, Welltok discovered in a survey conducted among over 1,600 U.S. adults in March 2019. The results are detailed in the assertively 

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Two-Thirds of Americans Say Healthcare Doesn’t Work Well, in RealClear Politics Poll

Health care is the top issue facing the U.S. today, one in three Americans says, with another one-fourth pointing to the economy. Together, health care + the economy rank the top issues for 62% of Americans. Health care and the economy are, in fact, intimately tied in every American’s personal household economy I assert in my book, HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen. This poll from RealClear Politics, conducted in late April/early May 2019, makes my point that the patient is the consumer and, facing deductibles and more financial exposure to footing the medical bill, the payor.   Fully

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The 3 A’s That Millennials Want From Healthcare: Affordability, Accessibility, Availability

With lower expectations of and satisfaction with health care, Millennials in America seek three things: available, accessible, and affordable services, research from the Transamerica Center for Health Studies has found. Far and away the top reason for not obtaining health insurance in 2018 was that it was simply too expensive, cited by 60% of Millennials. Following that, 26% of Millennials noted that paying the tax penalty plus personal medical expenses were, together, less expensive than available health options. While Millennials were least likely to visit a doctor’s office in the past year, they had the most likelihood of making a

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Prescription Drug Costs In America Through the Patient Lens, via IQVIA, GoodRx and a New $2 Million Therapy

Americans consumed 17.6 prescriptions per person in 2018, two in three of which treated chronic conditions. Welcome to Medicine Use and Spending in the U.S. , the annual review of prescription drug supply, demand and Rx pricing dynamics from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. In a call with analysts this week in which I participated, the Institute’s Executive Director Murray Aitken discussed the report which looks back at 2018 and forward to 2023 with scenarios about what the U.S. prescription drug market might look like five years from now. The report is organized into four sections: medical use

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Assessing the GAO’s Report on Single-Payer Healthcare in America: Let’s Re-Imagine Workflow

Calls for universal health care, some under the banner of Medicare for All,” are growing among some policy makers and presidential candidates looking to run in 2020. As a response, the Chairman of the House Budget Committee in the U.S. Congress, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), asked the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to develop a report outlining definitions and concepts for a single-payer health care system in the U.S.         The result of this ask is the report, Key Design Components and Considerations for Establishing a Single-Payer Health Care System, published on 1st May by the CBO. The report provides

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The Convergence of Health/Care and Real Estate

There’s no denying the growth of telehealth, virtual visits, remote health monitoring and mHealth apps in the healthcare landscape. But these growing technologies don’t replace the role of real estate in health, wellness and medical care. Health care is a growing force in retail real estate, according to the ICSC, the acronym for the International Council of Shopping Centers, which has been spending time analyzing, in their words, “what landlords should know in eyeing tenants from a $3.5 trillion industry.” Beyond the obvious retail clinic segment, the ICSC points out a key driving growth lever for its stakeholders, recognizing that,

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Will Health Consumers Morph Into Health Citizens? HealthConsuming Explains, Part 5

The last chapter (8) of HealthConsuming considers whether Americans can become “health citizens.” “Citizens” in this sense goes back to the Ancient Greeks: I return to Hippocrates, whose name is, of course, the root of The Hippocratic Oath that physicians take. Greece was the birthplace of Democracy with a capital “D.” Hippocrates’ book The Corpus is thought to be one of the first medical textbooks. The text covered social, physical, and nutritional influences, and the concept of “place” for health and well-being. Here, the discussion detailed the roles of air and water for health. The Hippocratic texts also coached doctors to

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Health Consumers Are Now Amazon-Primed for Healthcare – HealthConsuming Explains, Part 2

As patients now assume the role of health consumer, they rationally expect retail-level experiences with greater first-dollar payment for health insurance, health care services and medical products like prescription drugs. Consumers know what good retail looks and feels like, and are focusing that experiential lens on health care, Aflac found when their Workforces Survey polled Americans on their desirable health insurance shopping experience. One in two people said it should feel, “like Amazon,” and another 20% of folks said, “like retail.” Chapter 3 of HealthConsuming is titled, “How Amazon Has Primed Health Consumers,” and explains this re-shaping of patient expectations.

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Across All Political Parties, Likely Voters Over 50 Favor Cutting Prescription Drug Prices

People over 50 in the U.S. that are likely to vote in the 2020 Presidential election are keenly interested in lowering the cost of prescription drugs, according to a survey conducted by AARP in February and March 2019. Most people over 50 take prescription drugs daily; one-third take two or three Rx’s regularly, and one in five older people take six or more prescription medicines regularly. Thus, prescription drugs are part of most older Americans’ daily life-flows and household spending considerations. About two-thirds of older people who are likely to vote say that Rx prices are “unreasonable,” including 67% of

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A Dose of Optimism Is a Prescription for Financial Health, Says Frost Bank

People define their personal health and well-being broadly, well beyond physical health. Mental wellness, physical appearance, social connections, and financial wellness all add into our self-health definitions. Mind Over Money is a consumer study conducted by Frost Bank, working with FleischmanHillard, connecting the dots between optimism and financial health. The top-line of the study is that people who are optimists have roughly two-thirds fewer days of financial stress per year than pessimists. Put another way, pessimists stress about finances 62% of the year, shown in the first chart from the study. This translates into 62% of optimists having better financial

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Americans’ Trust in U.S. Healthcare Lags Tech — and Women Are Particularly Cynical

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer measured the biggest gap in trust for the healthcare industry between the U.S. “informed public” and the mass population. Fewer American women, too, trust the healthcare industry than men do. “This inequality of trust may be reflective of the mass population continuing to feel left behind as compared to others, even as they recognize the advances that are being made that could benefit them. Given tone and tenor of the day, and particularly among mass population, healthcare may continue to see increasing demands for change and regulation,” Susan Isenberg, Edelman’s head of healthcare, notes in

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Listen Up, Healthcare: Hear The Patient’s Voice!

Consider the voice of a patient before the advent of the Internet in the digital 1.0 world, and then the proliferation of social networks in v 2.0. One patient could talk with another over their proverbial neighborhood fence, a concerned parent at the PTA meeting with others dealing with a children’s health issue, or a recovering alcoholic testifying in person at an AA session. Today, the voice of the patient is magnified one-to-many, omnichannel and multi-platform — via video, blogs, podcasts, social networks, listservs….and, yes, still in live forums like AA meetings, church basements, Y-spaces, and the Frazzled Cafe meet-ups

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Health/Care Everywhere – Re-Imagining Healthcare at ATA 2019

“ATA” is the new three-letter acronym for the American Telemedicine Association, meeting today through Tuesday at the Convention Center in New Orleans.  Ann Mond Johnson assumed the helm of CEO of ATA in 2018, and she’s issued a call-to-action across the health/care ecosystem for a delivery system upgrade. Her interview here in HealthLeaders speaks to her vision, recognizing, “It’s just stunning that there’s such a lag between what is possible in telehealth and what is actually happening.” I’m so keen on telehealth, I’m personally participating in three sessions at #ATA19. On Monday 15th April (US Tax Day, which is relevant

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The United States of Diabetes: a $1,240 Tax on Every American

Pharmaceutical company executives are testifying in the U.S. Congress this week on the topic of prescription drug costs. One of those medicines, insulin, cost a patient $5,705 for a year’s supply in 2016, double what it cost in 2012, according to the Health Care Cost Institute. Know that one of these insulin products, Lilly’s Humalog,  came onto the market in 1996. In typical markets, as products mature and get mass adoption, prices fall. Not so insulin, one of the many cost components in caring for diabetes. But then prescription drug pricing doesn’t conform with how typical markets work in theory.

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What $285,000 Can Buy You in America: Medical Costs for Retirees in 2019

The average 65-year old couple retiring in 2019 will need to have a cash nest-egg of $285,000 to cover health care and medical expenses through retirement years, Fidelity Investments calculated. Fidelity estimates the average retiree will allocate 15% of their annual spending in retirement on medical costs. As if that top-line number isn’t enough to sober one up, there are two more caveats: (1) the $285K figure doesn’t include long-term care, dental services and over-the-counter medicines; and, (2) it’s an after-tax number. So depending on your tax bracket, you have to earn a whole lot more to net the $285,000

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Medical Costs Are Consuming Americans’ Financial Health

Spending on medical care costs crowded out other household spending for millions of Americans in 2018, based on The U.S. Healthcare Cost Crisis, a survey from West Health and Gallup. Gallup polled 3,537 U.S. adults 18 and over in January and February 2019. One in three Americans overall are concerned they won’t be able to pay for health care services or prescription drugs: that includes 35% of people who are insured, and 63% of those who do not have insurance.   Americans borrowed $88 billion in 2018 to pay for health care spending, West Health and Gallup estimated. 27 million Americans

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In the Modern Workplace, Workers Favor More Money, New Kinds of Benefits, and Purpose

Today, April 2nd, is National Employee Benefits Day. Who knew? To mark the occasion, I’m mining an important new report from  MetLife, Thriving in the New Work-Life World, the company’s 17th annual U.S. employee benefit trends study with new data for 2019. For the research, MetLife interviewed 2,500 benefits decision makers and influencers of companies with at least two employees. 20% of the firms employed over 10,000 workers; 20%, 50 and fewer staff. Companies polled represented a broad range of industries: 11% in health care and social assistance, 10% in education, 9% manufacturing, 8% each retail and information technology, 7%

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In the U.S., Patients Consider Costs and Insurance Essential to Their Overall Health Experience

Patients in the U.S. assume the role of payor when they are enrolled in high-deductible health plans. People are also the payor when dealing with paying greater co-payments for prescription drugs, especially as new therapeutic innovations come out of pipelines into commercial markets bearing six-digit prices for oncology and other categories. For mainstream Americans, “the math doesn’t add up” for paying medical bills out of median household budgets, based on the calculations in the 2019 VisitPay Report.  Given a $60K median U.S. income and average monthly mortgage and auto payments, there’s not much consumer margin to cover food, utilities, petrol,

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Most Americans Blame Drug Companies, Insurers, and Hospitals for High Health Care Costs

There’s little agreement between Democrats and Republicans on a plethora of issues in American public life. But one issue that brings U.S. citizens together is agreement that the cost of health care is too high in the country, and that pharma, health plans, and providers are to blame. Welcome to health politics in America as of March 2019, according to The Public and High U.S. Health Care Costs, a poll conducted by POLITICO and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The first chart illustrates the common ground shared by Americans by party affiliation, with vast majorities across parties playing

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Isn’t It Eyeconic? Vision Care in the Evolving Health Care Ecosystem

The vision/optical industry is one piece of the health/care ecosystem, but the segment has not been as directly impacted by patients’ new consumer muscles until just about now. It feels like the vision industry is at an inflection point at this moment, I intuited during yesterday’s convening of Decoding the Consumer: The new science of customer behavior, the theme of the 13th annual global leadership summit hosted by Vision Monday, a program of Jobson Medical Information which is part of the WebMD family. I was grateful to have an opportunity to share my views with attendees on the vision patient as

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The Evolution of Self-Care for Consumers – Learning and Sharing at CHPA

Self-care in health goes back thousands of years. Reading from Hippocrates’ Corpus about food and clean air’s role in health sounds contemporary today. And even in our most cynical moments, we can all hearken back to our grandmothers’ kitchen table wisdom for dealing with skin issues, the flu, and broken hearts. The annual conference of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) convened this week, and I was grateful to attend and speak on the evolving retail health landscape yesterday. Gary Downing, CEO of Clarion Brands and Chairman of the CHPA Board, kicked off the first day with a nostalgic look

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Medical Issues Are Still The #1 Contributor to Bankruptcy in the U.S., An AJPH Study Asserts

Medical costs in America are still the top contributor to personal bankruptcy in the U.S., a risk factor in two-thirds of bankruptcies filed between 2013 and 2016. That’s a sad fiscal fact, especially as more Americans gained access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPA). Between 2013 and 2016, about 530,000 bankruptcies were filed among U.S. families each year associated with medical reasons, illustrated in Table 1 from the study. The report, Medical Bankruptcy: Still Common Despite the Affordable Care Act, updates research from 2007 which

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Patients, Health Consumers, People, Citizens: Who Are We In America?

“Patients as Consumers” is the theme of the Health Affairs issue for March 2019. Research published in this trustworthy health policy publication covers a wide range of perspectives, including the promise of patients’ engagement with data to drive health outcomes, citizen science and participatory research where patients crowdsource cures, the results of financial incentives in value-based plans to drive health care “shopping” and decision making, and ultimately, whether the concept of patients-as-consumers is useful or even appropriate. Health care consumerism is a central focus in my work, and so it’s no surprise that I’ve consumed every bit of this publication. [In

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Can AI Make Healthcare Human Again? Dr. Topol Says “Yes”

“The Fourth Industrial Age,” Dr. Abraham Verghese writes, “has great potential to help, but also to harm, to exaggerate the profound gap that already exists between those who have much and those who have less each passing year.” Dr. Verghese asserts this in his forward to Deep Medicine, Dr. Eric Topol’s latest work which explores the promise of artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, and robotics — three legs of the Fourth Industrial Age stool. [If you don’t know the work of Dr. Verghese, and since you’re reading the Health Populi blog, you must get to know Dr. V now. Your

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Most Americans Across Party ID Favor U.S. Government Negotiation to Lower Rx Drug Costs

There’s little Americans, by political party, agree upon in 2019. One of the only issues bringing people together in the U.S. is prescription drug prices — that they’re too high, that the Federal government should negotiate to lower costs for Medicare enrollees, and that out-of-pocket costs for drugs should be limited. The Kaiser Family Foundation has been tracking this topic for a few years, and this month, their March 2019 Health Tracking Poll shows vast majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans all share these sentiments. It’s not that patients who take prescription drugs don’t appreciate them – most (58%) say medicines

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Consumers’ Trust In Health And Personal Care Stores: The Growing Retail Health Ecosystem

CVS + Aetna have merged to evolve a new business model for health and medical care. Walgreen’s continues to add new services beyond the core pharmacy business, and Walmart is expanding telehealth and healthier food aisles in the grocery. More grocery stores  added dietitians to their operations in 2018, as well. As people take on more self-care for health care, they are looking to access products and services in retail bricks-and-mortar and ecommerce channels in the same places they buy food and other products. ACSI’s latest customer satisfaction benchmark study into retailers provides insights into the trusted channels for retail health

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How Genomics Can Battle Killer Bacterial Infections in the Hospital – Talking With Philips at HIMSS19

When you think “genomics,” your mind probably pictures a human DNA strand. Well, my mind did, prior to meeting with Dr. Joseph Frassica and Dr. Felix Baader at HIMSS19 to discuss Philips’ approach to the tragic problem of healthcare-acquired infections that kill patients. Ever since that conversation, my mind’s eye is filled with images of MRSA cells like those shown here. At HIMSS19, Philips launched a solution that couples clinical informatics with genomic sequencing of bacteria to quickly identify and treat patients that are affected with tough-to-treat infections that, so often, result in death. Healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) are a worldwide

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National Health Spending Will Reach Nearly 20% of U.S. GDP By 2027

National health spending in the U.S. is expected to grow by 5.7% every year from 2020 to 2027, the actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services forecast in their report, National Health Expenditure Projections, 2018-2927: Economic And Demographic Trends Drive Spending And Enrollment Growth, published yesterday by Health Affairs. For context, note that general price inflation in the U.S. was 1.6% for the 12 months ending January 2019 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth rate for health care costs exceeds every period measured since the high of 7.2% recorded in 1990-2007. The bar chart illustrates the

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Cost and Convenience Underpin Patient Demands As Health Consumers

Across generations, from younger to older patients, cost, transparency and convenience drive consumer satisfaction, Accenture’s latest health consumer survey found. I had the opportunity to brainstorm the study’s findings in real-time on the day of survey launch, 12 February, with Dr. Kaveh Safavi, Brian Kalis, and Jenn Francis at HIMSS19. Our starting point was the tipping-point statistic that over 50% of people in the U.S. have chosen to use a non-traditional health care setting. Those non-traditional sites of care include walk-in and retail clinics, outpatient surgery centers, virtual health (whether on the phone, on video or via mobile apps), on-demand services,

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“Telehealth is a digital distribution channel for health care” – catching up with Roy Schoenberg, President and CEO of American Well

Ten years ago, two brothers, physicians both, started up a telemedicine company called American Well. They launched their service first in Hawaii, where long distances and remote island living challenged the supply and demand sides of health care providers and patients alike. A decade later, I sat down for a “what’s new?” chat with Roy Schoenberg, American Well President and CEO. In full  transparency,  I enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to meet with Roy (or very occasionally Ido, the co-founding brother-other-half) every year at HIMSS and sometimes at CES. In our face-to-face brainstorm this week, we covered a wide range

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Telehealth and Virtual Care Are Melting Into “Just” Health Care at HIMSS19

Just as we experienced “e-business” departments blurring into ecommerce and everyday business processes, so is “telehealth” morphing into, simply, health care delivery as one of many channels and platforms. Telehealth and virtual care are key education topics and exhibitor presences at HIMSS19. Several factors underpin the adoption of telehealth in 2019: Consumers’ demand for accessible, lower-cost health care services as people face greater financial responsibility for paying the medical bill (via high-deductible health plans and greater out-of-pocket costs for co-payments) Some consumers’ lacking or losing health insurance as ACA coverage eroded in the past two years, resulting in these patients

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The Expectation Gap Between What Patients Want Vs What They Get

Talk to me, patients are demanding in unison. Most health consumers expect providers to communicate about routine health care and prevention; this is especially true among those patients trying to manage chronic conditions we learn from 10 Ways to Fulfill Patients’ Communication Wish List, a report based on a consumer survey from West, the communications and network infrastructure company. Four in five patients say that talking to “me” means they want personalized recommendations to their unique needs – but only one-third of patients say they’re getting that level of service from their healthcare providers. Most health consumers expect providers to communicate about

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Care Gets Personal at Philips for Parents and Babies

Our homes should nurture our health. In addition to nutrition and good food, positive relationships, clean air and water, and the basic needs that bolster whole health, technology is playing a growing role to help us manage health at home. At CES 2019, I spent time with Roy Jakobs, Chief Business Leader of Personal Health with Philips, to discuss the company’s evolving portfolio of products that help fulfill the mission to support people across their own continuum of health. Following CES, I wanted to further dive into one part of the portfolio very important to family health at home: the

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Consumers’ and Physicians’ Growing Embrace of Digital Health via PwC

Most consumers would be willing to try an FDA-approved app or online to treat a medical condition, as well as receiving hospital care at home if would be less costly. We’ve reached an inflection point on the demand side among consumers for digital health options, PwC suggests in their report on the New Health Economy coming of age. The report outlines health/care industry issues for 2019, with a strong focus on digital health. Whether a menu of care options including virtual health to access specialists across the U.S., post-hospital virtual visits, or hospital care at-home, a majority of Americans supports

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In 2023, the U.S. Will Still Be the #1 Prescription Drug Spender in the World, IQVIA Forecasts

Today, as Congress kicks off hearings about the cost of prescription drugs in the United States, IQVIA published its 2019 report on The Global Use of Medicine in 2019 and Outlook to 2023. The top-line of the research is the robust pharma market growth will be driven by two factors, and limited by two others: spending in the U.S. and emerging markets (coined “pharmerging” by IQVIA) will push up spending, while limiting factors on growth will be increasing generics and expiration of brand patents. The U.S. will continue to be the number 1 prescription drug spender in the world to

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Americans Are Warming to Universal Health Care, Kaiser Poll Finds

Most Americans like the idea of universal health care as a guaranteed right, Kaiser Family Foundation learned in this month’s Health Tracking Poll. This finding reinforces the voter turnout for the 2018 mid-term elections which was largely driven by peoples’ concerns for losing health access for pre-existing conditions. The first chart notes important nuances under the majority support for a national health plan which, in this case, asked whether people favored a plan “sometimes called ‘Medicare for all.'” I note that note all national health plan designs would need to be tied to Medicare. There are many ways to deliver

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Calling Out Health Equity on Martin Luther King Day 2019

On this weekend 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

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In U.S. Health Care, It’s Still the Prices, Stupid – But Transparency and Consumer Behavior Aren’t Working As Planned

I’m glad to be getting back to health economic issues after spending the last couple of weeks firmly focused on consumers, digital health technologies and CES 2019. There’s a lot for me to address concerning health care costs based on news and research published over the past couple of weeks. We’ll start with the centerpiece that will provide the overall context for this post: that’s the ongoing research of Gerard Anderson and colleagues under the title, It’s Still The Prices, Stupid: Why The US Spends So Much On Health Care, And A Tribute To Uwe Reinhardt. It is bittersweet to

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A Smarter Home for Healthy Living at CES 2019….and a nod to Microsoft

Health begins at home. I found evidence for that, beyond my own N of 1 understanding, in a research article published in the UK in 2000 by Lyn Harrison and Frances Heywood. Lyn and Frances tested three assumptions that they believed linked housing and health: that housing contributes to health; that housing is not routinely included in health or social planning;’ and that the potential contribution of primary care is wasted. Their conclusion: that the housing-health link was not receiving the recognition that connection needs. Nearly two decades later, that housing-health link still isn’t universally embraced by health care stakeholders. But

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The Caveats for Health/Care at CES 2019

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a “caveat” is, “a warning to consider something before doing anything more.” It is fitting that CES is held in Las Vegas, land of high risk and, with a lot of luck, reward. With that theme in mind, I depart LAS airport tonight on an aptly-named red-eye flight back home after spending an entire week here. I’m pondering not what I saw — some of which I covered daily over the past week — but what I didn’t see. Consider these the caveats for health/care at #CES2019. In no particular order… Where was the Chairman of

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The Consumer as Payor – Retail Health at CES 2019

All health/care is retail now in America. I say this as most people in the U.S. who have health insurance must take on a deductible of some amount, which compels that insured individual to spend the first dollar on medical services up until they meet their financial commitment. At that point, health insurance kicks in, and then the insured may have to spend additional funds on co-payments for general medicines and services, and coinsurance for specialty drugs like injectables and high-cost new therapies. The patient is a consumer is a payor, I asserted today during my talk on the expanding

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Heart Health at #CES2019 – Food and Tech as Medicine

Self-care is the new health care as patients, now consumers at greater financial risk for medical spending, are learning. At #CES2019, I’m on the lookout for digital technologies that can help people adopt and sustain healthy behaviors that can help consumers save money on medical care and enhance quality of life-years. This week’s heart-and-food tech announcements at #CES2019 coincide with an FDA recall on a popular drug prescribed to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). Using food and tech as medicine can help people avoid going on medications like statins and others for heart health. An important example of this self-care

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Here’s Looking at Health at CES 2019

If I’m going to spend a week someplace, it usually has to be Italy. So next week in Las Vegas, I’ll deal with that bias by staying at the Venetian Hotel for the entire week to cover all-things-health at CES 2019, the annual convening of electronics retailers and enthusiasts. Most of the 180,000+ folks come to Vegas from over 150 countries to kick the proverbial tires on TVs, autos, games, virtual reality, 3-D printing, drones, and other shiny new things. For me, for the past eight years, CES means consumer-facing health in a person’s hands, on her phone, and increasingly

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Costs, Consumerism, Cyber and Care, Everywhere – The 2019 Health Populi TrendCast

Today is Boxing Day and St. Stephens Day for people who celebrate Christmas, so I share this post as a holiday gift with well-wishes for you and those you love. The tea leaves have been brewing here at THINK-Health as we prepared our 2019 forecast at the convergence of consumers, health, and technology. Here’s our trend-weaving of 4 C’s for 2019: costs, consumerism, cyber and care, everywhere… Health care costs will continue to be a mainstream pocketbook issue for patients and caregivers, with consequences for payors, suppliers and ultimately, policymakers. Legislators inside the DC Beltway will be challenged by the

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Blood Pressure From the Wrist for the First Time – Welcome, Omron HeartGuide

For the first time, we can take a clinically accurate blood pressure measurement from our wrist — welcome to the first of its kind wrist-worn blood pressure monitor, HeartGuide, brought to market by Omron. I know this journey has been a long, patient one, as I came to know Ranndy Kellogg, Omron’s President and CEO, several years ago at CES. Back in 2017, I spoke with Ranndy about the vision for BP measurement for Everyday People that would be a streamlined, simple consumer experience that the traditional armband and pump didn’t offer. I wrote about that conversation in The Huffington

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Rationing Care in America: Cost Implications Getting to Universal Health Coverage

It would not be surprising to know that when the Great Recession hit the U.S. in 2008, one in three Americans delayed medical treatment due to costs. Ten years later, as media headlines and the President boast an improved American economy, the same proportion of people are self-rationing healthcare due to cost. That percentage of people who delay medical cost based on the expense has remained stable since 2006: between 29 and 31 percent of Americans have self-rationed care due to cost for over a decade. And, 19% of U.S. adults, roughly one-in-five people who are sick and dealing with

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Americans End 2018 Worried About Healthcare Costs

Nearly one-half of Americans are quite concerned they won’t have enough money to pay for medical care, according to the latest Gallup poll. Health insurance in-security is mainstream as of November 2018, when Gallup polled U.S. adults about views on healthcare costs. It’s a major concern among six in ten people that their health plan would require they pay higher premiums or a bigger portion of their healthcare expenses. It’s also a big concern for four in ten people that someone in their family would be denied health insurance covering for a pre-existing condition, or that they might have to

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While National Health Care Spending Growth Slowed in 2017, One Stakeholder’s Financial Burden Grew: The Consumer’s

National health care spending growth slowed in 2017 to the post-recession rate of 3.9%, down from 4.8% in 2016. Per person, spending on health care grew 3.2% to $10,739 in 2017, and the share of GDP spent on medical care held steady at 17.9%. Healthcare spending in America is a $3.5 trillion micro-economy…roughly the size of the entire GDP of Germany, and about $1 trillion greater than the entire economy of France. These annual numbers come out of the annual report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, published yesterday in Health Affairs. Underneath these macro-health economic numbers is

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Most Americans Want the Federal Government to Ensure Healthcare for All

Most people in the U.S. believe that the Federal government should ensure that their fellow Americans, a new Gallup Poll found. This sentiment has been relatively stable since 2000 except for two big outlying years: a spike of 69% in 2006, and a low-point in 2003 of 42%. In 2006, Medicare Part D launched, which may have boosted consumers’ faith in Federal healthcare programs. In contrast, in 2013 the Affordable Care Act was in implementation and consumer-adoption mode, accompanied by aggressive anti-“Obamacare” campaigns in mass media. That’s the top lighter green line in the first chart. But while there’s majority support

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Money First, Then Kids: The State of the American Family in 2018

Most American families with children at home are concerned about paying bills on a monthly basis. One in two people have had at least one personal “economic crisis” in the past year, we learn in the American Family Survey 2018, released last week from Deseret News and The Brookings Institution. The project surveyed 3,000 U.S. adults across the general population, fielded online by YouGov. This poll, conducted since 2005, looks at the state of U.S. families through several issue lenses: the state of marriage and family, parents and teenagers, sexual harassment (with 2018 birthing the #MeToo movement), social capital and

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Healthcare Is Local: Channeling Tip O’Neill in the 2018 Midterm Election Results

As Tip O’Neill’s mantra goes, “All politics is local.” In the U.S. 2018 midterm elections, healthcare voting seems to have translated as a local issue, falling into O’Neill’s axiom. In this election, healthcare was the most important voting issue for consumers, PwC found, ranking above the economy, national security, and education. On this morning after 2018 midterm election results are (mostly) out, it looks like healthcare was a local and state issue for U.S. 2018 midterm voters. The Democrats flipped more than 23 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to gain control of that chamber. The Senate is up

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Vote As If Your Health Depended Upon It; Learning from Governor Kasich on Voting Day 2018

…because it does. “Citizens scare politicians,” I heard Governor John Kasich say to Nicole Wallace on her show Deadline: White House yesterday, just hours from today’s U.S. 2018 midterm elections. Governor Kasich has led the Buckeye State since 2011, and his second and final term ends in January 2019. The Governor expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in the State of Ohio, discussed in this insightful Washington Post article. “I am my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper,” Kasich told Wallace. The Governor asserted this in the context of the role of protecting his fellow citizens for health and well-being, for

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Healthcare and the F-Word: Health Politics Rank High on November 6, 2018

“Let’s get this thing f-ing done,” Martha McSally passionately asserted on May 4, 2017. Paul Ryan said, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives without cursing, “A lot of us have waited seven years to cast this vote.” McSally, who represents Tucson, Arizona, in the U.S. Congress, is running to replace retiring Senator Jeff Flake. McSally was one of the 217 Republicans in the House who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, subsequently celebrating a victory in the Rose Garden of the White House with jubilant peers. The final vote was 217-213. Here’s the final roll call

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Consumers Want Help With Health: Can Healthcare Providers Supply That Demand?

Among people who have health insurance, managing the costs of their medical care doesn’t rank as a top frustration. Instead, attending to health and wellbeing, staying true to an exercise regime, maintaining good nutrition, and managing stress top U.S. consumers’ frustrations — above managing the costs of care not covered by insurance. And maintaining good mental health and staying on-track with health goals come close to managing uncovered costs, Oliver Wyman’s 2018 consumer survey learned. These and other important health consumer insights are revealed in the firm’s latest report, Waiting for Consumers – The Oliver Wyman 2018 Consumer Survey of US

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Healthcare Costs Stress Out U.S. Voters One Week Ahead of 2018 Mid-Term Elections

With seven days until voters go to the polls for what some call the most momentous U.S. election in decades, most Americans say that healthcare costs are a major stress, second only to money. So warns the Sixth Annual Nationwide TCHS Consumers Healthcare Survey, with the tagline: “Stressed Out: Americans and Healthcare.” Perhaps this is why healthcare has become a top voting issue for the 2018 mid-term elections that will be held on November 6 one week from today. The first chart illustrates that healthcare costs, the economy, and family responsibilities all closely cluster as sources of stress for a

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Financial Stress Is An Epidemic In America, Everyday Health Finds

One in three working-age people in the U.S. have seen a doctor about something stress-related. Stress is a way of American life, based on the findings in The United States of Stress, a survey from Everyday Health. Everyday Health polled 6,700 U.S. adults between 18 and 64 years of age about their perspectives on stress, anxiety, panic, and mental and behavioral health. Among all sources of stress, personal finances rank as the top stressor in the U.S. Over one-half of consumers say financial issues regularly stress them out. Finances, followed by jobs and work issues, worries about the future, and relationships cause

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Food and Cooking for Health: a UK Perspective from Hammersmith & Fulham

Food deserts aren’t just a U.S. phenomenon. They’re found all around the world. This week as I explore social determinants of health and technology solutions in several parts of Europe, I’ve learned more about food access challenges in the UK. These are discussed in a report published this month by the Social Market Foundation asking, What are the barriers to eating healthily in the UK?  The research was supported by Kellogg’s, the food manufacturer. The first table comes from the report, and the topline shows that about 4 in 10 Britons shopped at a cheaper food store in response to high

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The Single Market for Healthcare in Europe: Learnings for the U.S.

When I asked my longtime colleague and friend Robert Mittman, with whom I collaborated at Institute for the Future for a decade, how he managed international travel and jet lag, he said simply, “The time zone you’re in is the time zone you’re in.” This lesson has stayed with me since I received Robert’s advice over twenty years ago. Over the next two weeks, as I work alongside colleagues and clients in the EU and soon-to-Brexit UK, I am in time zones five and six hours later than my home-base of US Eastern Time. But the time zones I’m working

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CVS + Aetna: Inflection Point in US Healthcare, Merger Approved Update

    CVS Health’s acquisition of Aetna was approved this week by U.S. Federal regulators after months of scrutinizing the antitrust-size-market control implications of the deal. I wrote this post on the deal as an inflection point in American healthcare on 3rd December 2017 when CVS and Aetna announced their marriage intentions. This post updates my initial thoughts on the deal, given the morphing US healthcare market on both the traditional health services front and fast-evolving retail health environment. The nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain signed a deal to combine with one of the top three health insurance companies. The deal

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Open Source Health Care Will Liberate Patients

Information is power in the hands of people. When it’s open in the sunshine, it empowers people — whether doctors, patients, researchers, Presidents, teachers, students, Everyday People. Welcome to the era of Open Source Healthcare, not only the “about time” for patients to own their health, but for the launch of a new publication that will support and continue to evolve the concept. It’s really a movement that’s already in process.     Let’s go back to some definitions and healthcare basics to understand just why Open Source Healthcare is already a thing. When information access is uneven, it’s considered

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How MedModular Fits Into the New Lower-Cost, High-Quality, Consumer-Enchanted Healthcare World

In American health economics, there’s a demand side and a supply side. On the demand side, we’ve done a poor job trying to nudge patients and consumers toward rational economic decision making, lacking transparency, information symmetry, and basic health literacy. On the supply side, we’ve engaged in a medical arms race allocating capital resources to shinier and shinier new things, often without cost-benefit rationale or clinical evidence. On that supply side, though, I met up with an innovation that can help to bend the capital cost curve of how we envision and build new hospitals and clinics. This week, I

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

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

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The Importance of Broadband and Net Neutrality for Health, to the Last Person and the Last Mile

California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a net neutrality bill this weekend. Gov. Brown’s proverbial swipe of the pen accomplished two things: he went back to the Obama-era approach to ensure that internet service providers treat all users of the internet equally; and, he prompted the Department of Justice, representing the Trump Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to launch a lawsuit. California, home to start-ups, mature tech platform companies (like Apple, Facebook and Google), and countless digital health developers, is in a particularly strategic place to fight the FCC and, now, the Department of Justice. Nearly two dozen other states

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Sicker Consumers Are More Willing to Share Health Data

People dealing with chronic conditions are keener to share personally-generated data than people that don’t have a chronic disease, Deloitte’s 2018 Survey of U.S> Health Care Consumers learned. This and other insights about the patient journey are published in Inside the patient journey, a report from Deloitte that assesses three key touch points for consumer health engagement. These three patient journey milestones are searching for care, using new channels of care, and tracking and sharing health data, Deloitte maps. What drives people to engage on their patient journeys has a lot  more to do with practical matters of care like convenience,

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When Life and Health Insurance Blur: John Hancock, Behavioral Economics, and Wearable Tech

Most consumers look to every industry sector to help them engage with their health. And those companies include the insurance industry and financial services firms, we found in the 2010 Edelman Health Engagement Barometer. John Hancock, which covers about 10 million consumers across a range of products, is changing their business model for life insurance. Here’s the press release, titled, “John Hancock Leaves Traditional Life Insurance Model Behind to Incentivize Longer, Healthier Lives.” “We fundamentally believe life insurers should care about how long and well their customers live. With this decision, we are proud to become the only U.S. life insurance

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Prescription Drugs: From Costs and Bad Reputation to Civica Rx and Amazon to the Rescue

The prices of medicines prescribed in outpatient settings rose, on average, 10.3% in 2018. Wages increased about 2.6%, and consumer prices, 1.3%, based on the 2019 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey. Segal forecasts that medical cost trends will moderate for 2019, lower than 2018 rates. But to the patient, now feeling like a consumer dealing with high-deductibles and the growing sticker shock of specialty drug prices, a so-called “moderate” trend still feels like a big bite in the household budget. Specifically, specialty drug trend is expected to be 14.3% in 2019, compared with 17.7% in 2018 — still several

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Consumers Don’t Know What They Don’t Know About Healthcare Costs

The saving rate in the U.S. ranks among the lowest in the world, in a country that rates among the richest nations. So imagine how well Americans save for healthcare? “Consumers are not disciplined about saving in general,” with saving for healthcare lagging behind other types of savings, Alegeus observes in the 2018 Alegeus Consumer Health & Financial Fluency Report. Alegeus surveyed 1,400 U.S. healthcare consumers in September 2017 to gauge peoples’ views on healthcare finances, insurance, and levels of fluency. As patients continue to take on more financial responsibility for healthcare spending in the U.S., they are struggling with finances and

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Retail Tomorrow, Today: A Smart Grocery Cart and Digital Samples For Paleo-Eating Moms

In our Amazon-Primed world, the future of retail is not ten years from now; it’s “tomorrow.” So GMDC, the association of retailers and brands who supply them, has formed a program called Retail Tomorrow to turbocharge the supply side with consumers who are already demanding convenience, immediate (or “soon”) gratification, and health where she/he “is.” That’s personalization, and that’s where retail health can and is making a difference in Everyday Peoples’ lives. In our DIY culture, we’re pumping our own petrol, making our own airline and hospitality reservations (from Expedia to Airbnb), trading stocks online, and cooking at home enabled by

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Self-Care is Healthcare for Everyday People

Patients are the new healthcare payors, and as such, taking on the role of health consumers. In fact, health and wellness consumers have existed since a person purchased the first toothpaste, aspirin, heating pad, and moisturizing cream at retail. Or consulted with their neighborhood herbalista, homeopathic practitioner, therapeutic masseuse, or skin aesthetician. Today, the health and wellness consumer can DIY all of these things at home through a huge array of products available in pharmacies, supermarkets, Big Box stores, cosmetic superstores, convenience and dollar stores, and other retail channels – increasingly, online (THINK, of course, of Amazon — more on

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The Top Pain Point in the Healthcare Consumer Experience is Money

Beyond the physical and emotional pain that people experience when they become a patient, in the U.S. that person becomes a consumer bearing expenses and financial pain, as well. 98% of Americans rank paying their medical bills is an important pain point in their patient journey, according to Embracing consumerism: Driving customer engagement in the healthcare financial journey, from Experian Health. Experian is best known as the consumer credit reporting agency; Experian Health works with healthcare providers on revenue cycle management, patient identity, and care management, so the company has experience with patient finance and medical expense sticker shock. In the

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Surprise, Surprise: Most Americans Have Faced a “Surprise” Medical Bill

Most Americans have been surprised by a medical bill, a NORC AmeriSpeak survey found. Who’s responsible? Nearly all Americans (86% net responsible) first blame health insurance companies, followed by hospitals (82%). Fewer U.S. patients blamed doctors and pharmacies, although a majority of consumers still put responsibility for surprise healthcare bills on them (71% and 64% net). Most of the surprise bills were for charges associated with a physician’s service or lab test. Most surprise charges were not due to the service being excluded from a health plans provider network. The poll was conducted among 1,002 U.S. adults 18 and over

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Pre-Existing Conditions: A Trans-Party, National Health Priority

Pre-existing conditions impact Americans north, south, east and west, the Kaiser Family Foundation maps. But those maladies aren’t evenly distributed across the U.S.: the highest incidences of people with pre-existing conditions are generally dotted in the eastern half of the U.S., in diverse metropolitan areas. This study looks at non-elderly adults, people between 18 and 64 years of age. That is, working-age U.S. adults who would be prospects for private health insurance coverage, whether through employers or on the individual insurance market. A striking aspect of this map is that one metro that has a higher rate of people with

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

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

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Multimorbidity In the US – Obesity As A Key Driver of Health Spending

In the U.S., the growing prevalence of multi-morbidity is contributing to increased mortality and healthcare cost growth in America. Underlying this clinical and economic phenomenon is obesity, which primary care doctors are challenged to deal with as a chronic condition along with typically co-occurring comorbidities of hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia. The line chart come from a new study into Multimorbidity Trends in United States Adults, 1988-2014, published in the July-August 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. The authors, affiliated with the West Virginia University Department of Family Medicine, call out that obesity (the pink-red line)

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Disruption Is Healthcare’s New Normal

Googling the words “disruption” and “healthcare” today yielded 33.8 million responses, starting with “Riding the Disruption Wave in Healthcare” from Bain in Forbes, Accenture’s essay on “Big Bang Disruption in Healthcare,” and, “A Cry for Encouraging Disruption” in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst. This last article responded to the question, “Can we successfully deliver better quality care for patients at a lower cost?” asked by François de Brantes, Executive Director of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute. “Disruption” as a noun and an elephant in our room has been with us in healthcare since the September/October 2000 issue of

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

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

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Benefit Cost Increases Overwhelm Flat Wages for Most in US: Pew

Today’s financial news reports and the bullish stock market generate headlines saying that the U.S. economy is riding high. President Trump forecasted in late July, “we are now on track to hit an average GDP annual growth of over 3% and it could be substantially over 3%,” Trump said. “Each point, by the way, means approximately $3 trillion and 10 million jobs. Think of that.” Indeed, unemployment is at its lowest rate in decades at 4%. Today, NASDAQ reported that, “the U.S. economy stays strong as the Fed holds steady.” For mainstream working people, though, even with a job in a high employment

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Americans Growing Health Consumer Muscles and Knowledge: McKinsey

Most Americans are healthcare cost-conscious, concerned about various kinds of healthcare expenses, data from McKinsey’s research has found presented in Healthcare consumerism 2018: An update on the  journey. McKinsey’s consumer research identified four themes: affordability as a pressing consumer concern; lack of continuity of care for many consumers; growing demand for digital convenience and access; and, greater willingness to partake in health care programs that lower costs, if made available. Personal and household concerns about healthcare costs is top-of-mind for U.S. consumers, as I’ve pointed out in previous studies such as Kaiser Family Foundation’s look at top “pocketbook issues,” here on

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

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

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Healthcare’s Profits Will Be Dramatically Redistributed as Care Shifts to Consumers: Accenture

All sectors who are stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem aren’t created equal, Accenture explains in their report, Healthcare’s future winners and losers. Observing the influx of new flavors of entrants like Amazon and Google, start-ups like Iora Health, Oscar and FetchMD, begs the question: how will legacy healthcare system players fare? Who will survive, and what will be the success factors that bolster long-term viability? To answer that question, Accenture points to three market trends that set “new rules” in healthcare: Blurred lines, which are the grey areas and adjacencies between technology, service, finance, and retail The middle of nowhere,

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“Lower Prescription Drug Prices” – A Tri-Partisan Call Across America

  There’s growing evidence that a majority of U.S. voters, across the three-party landscape, agree on two healthcare issues this year: coverage of pre-existing conditions, and lowering the consumer-facing costs of prescription drugs. A new poll jointly conducted by Politico and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health bolsters my read on the latter issue – prescription drug pricing, which has become a mass popular culture union. There may be no other issue on voters’ collective minds for the 2018 mid-term election that so unites American voters than the demand for lower-cost medicines. This is directly relates to consumers’ tri-party

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Healthcare, and Especially Covering Pre-Existing Conditions, Ranks High for Voters in 2018

President Trump and his administrative have been trying to make the ACA fail, claim most U.S. adults. Thus, the public holds the POTUS and the Republican party responsible for moving the Affordable Care Act forward….or not, according to the July 2018 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). Health care will be a key issue in the 2018 mid-term elections that will be held in November. Among U.S. voters’ key health care concerns in 2018, one ranks “most” or “very important” for two-thirds of Americans: that is continuing to protect people with pre-existing health conditions. Other issues

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How Taking Care of Your Health Boosts Savings Accounts

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

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The Cost of a Healthcare Data Breach is $408 Per Stolen Record, 3X the Industry Average

The cost of a healthcare data breach is $408, nearly three-times the cross-industry average, revealed in the 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study: Global Overview, from IBM Security and the Ponemon Institute. The average cost per lost or stolen record across all sectors is $148, Ponemon gauged. If you track cybersecurity and data breaches, Ponemon Institute is a go-to resource; I’ve discussed their research here in Health Populi on hacked medical information as a new-normal. This is the eighth year in a row that healthcare organizations had the highest costs associated with data breaches per lost or stolen record. Ponemon

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