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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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U.S. Hospitals Will Lose $323 Billion in 2020 – Before Accounting for Growing COVID Cases

U.S. health systems are projected to lose $323 billion in 2020 due to declining inpatient and outpatient volumes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the “normal” hospital business. Hospitals racked up over $200 bn in losses between March and June 2020. according to the American Hospital Association’s report, Hospitals and Health Systems Continue to Face Unprecedented Financial Challenges Due to COVID-19. AHA suggests that the $323 bn loss figure may be underestimated, as growing coronavirus cases are emerging in certain states: as of this writing, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah among those states heating up.

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Growing Evidence for eConsults – the Asynchronous, Clinician-to-Clinician Platform for Telehealth

Health care providers stood up virtual health care services with lightning speed as the coronavirus pandemic emerged in the U.S. Telehealth and its various flavors enabled both patients and providers to manage the risk of contracting the virus, especially at a time when little was known about the nature of transmission, treatment and prevention — except for washing hands, covering one’s face, and isolating when showing symptoms. In Electronic Consultations (eConsults): A Triple Win for Patients, Clinicians, and Payers, the Milbank Memorial Fund explores the evidence supporting the growth of asynchronous electronic consultation encounters between patients and clinicians. Note that

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What Will Healthcare Costs Be After COVID? PwC Looks Behind the 2021 Numbers

Whether healthcare spending in 2021 increases by double-digits or falls by one-third directly depends on how the coronavirus pandemic will play out over the rest of 2020, based on PwC’s annual report on medical cost trends for 2021. The three cost scenarios are based on assumptions shown in the fine print on the first chart: The medium scenario, a sort of “return to normal” where medical trend could stay even at 6.0%, equal to the 2020 trend. This assumes that healthcare spending recovers by October 2020 as patients return to hospitals and doctors’ offices for regular care patterns. In 2021,

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

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

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Economic Anxieties Rise, Medical and Vacation Plans Delayed: the COVID-19 Consumer in June 2020

Some 6 in 10 people in the U.S. have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Those most negatively affected by the pandemic tend to be younger, Gen Z age group and African-American, 63% of whom felt financial pressure directly due from the virus and the national economic lockdown. By late May 2020, 34% of black Americans had lost their jobs compared with 21% in late April, compared with 18% of white consumers, reported in The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Financial Impact on U.S. Consumers, survey research from TransUnion. This post describes data from TransUnion’s Wave 9 report, which polled 2,086 U.S. adults 18

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How Philips Has Pivoted In the COVID-19 Pandemic: Connected Care From Hospital to Home

What a difference 90 days makes. I was scheduled to meet with Roy Jakobs, Chief Business Leader of Connected Care at Philips, at HIMSS in Orlando on 9th March 2020. I’d interviewed Roy at CES 2020 in Las Vegas in January to catch up on consumer health developments, and the March meeting was going to cover Philips’ innovations on the hospital and acute care side of the business, as well as to learn more about Roy’s new role as head of Connected Care. HIMSS cancelled the conference just days before it was to commence….due to the great disruption of COVID-19.

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

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

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The Hair Economy in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Control, Wellness, and Self-Care

The barbershop and beauty salon are important community touch points for health, wellness, and social connection in so many peoples’ lives. In my book, HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen, I feature the black barbershop to introduce a chapter on “The New Retail Health.” In the COVID-19 pandemic, how we’re dealing with hair is a metaphor for personal control, for political statements, for mental health, and for overall well-being. Check out Geoff Coates’ (known as Sadochicken, from Vancouver) take on “how quarantine hairdos are lookin’,” here. Can you see yourself? I can (it’s the “Corona Bangs” style for me,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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COVID-19’s Consumer Health Care Behaviors: Telehealth, Trauma, and Trust, via PwC

In a matter of several weeks, people living in the U.S. have endured massive personal social, emotional, physical and fiscal disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. State mandates to shelter at home, the adoption of wearing face masks and covers in public, and re-making dining tables and dens into home-working spaces for kids in school or parents telecommuting, American homes have morphed into petri dishes of people undergoing dramatic changes in a very short time. A new report from PwC looks at peoples’ changes in health behaviors in the first two months of the pandemic, asking whether these changes will

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

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

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In the US COVID-19 Pandemic, A Tension Between the Fiscal and the Physical

“Act fast and do whatever it takes,” insists the second half of the title of a new eBook with contributions from forty leading economists from around the world. The first half of the title is, Mitigating the COVID Economic Crisis.  The book is discussed in a World Economic Forum essay discussing the economists’ consensus to “act fast.” As the U.S. curve adds new American patients testing positive for the coronavirus, the book and essay illustrate the tension between health consumer versus the health citizen in the U.S.  For clinical context, as I write this post on 24th March 2020, today’s U.S.

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In A Nation “At War” with the C19 Virus, Partisan Healthcare Differences Persist

More Democrats would want to get tested for the coronavirus (C19) than would Republicans. And, more women than men believe that a vaccine to address the COVID-19 pandemic believe that treatment would be offered at no-or-low-cost under a Democratic president versus President Trump. These are two key insights gleaned from a look into U.S. adults’ perspectives on the C19 virus in the second week of March 2020. What Are Americans’ Views on the Coronavirus Pandemic? asks and answers an NBC News/Commonwealth Fund Health Care Poll published on 20th March 2020. NBC News and the Commonwealth Fund polled 1,006 people 18

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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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Lockdown Economics for U.S. Health Consumers

The hashtag #StayHome was ushered onto Twitter by 15 U.S. national healthcare leaders in a USA Today editorial yesterday. The op-ed co-authors included Dr. Eric Topol, Dr. Leana Wen, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Dr. Jordan Shlain, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Andy Slavitt, and other key healthcare opinion leaders. Some states and regions have already mandated that people stay home; at midnight last night, counties in the Bay Area in California instituted this, and there are tightening rules in my area of greater Philadelphia. UBS economist Paul Donovan talked about “Lockdown Economics” in his audio commentary today. Paul’s observations resonated with me as

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Telehealth and COVID-19 in the U.S.: A Conversation with Ann Mond Johnson, ATA CEO

Will the coronavirus inspire greater adoption of telehealth in the U.S.? Let’s travel to Shanghai, China where, “the covid-19 epidemic has brought millions of new patients online. They are likely to stay there,” asserts “The smartphone will see you now,” an article in the March 7th 2020 issue of The Economist. The article returns to the advent of the SARS epidemic in China in 2003, which ushered in a series of events: people stayed home, and Chinese social media and e-commerce proliferated. The coronavirus spawned another kind of gift to China and the nation’s health citizens: telemedicine, the essay explains. A

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Waking Up a Health Consumer in the COVID-19 Era

With President Trump’s somber speech from the Oval Office last night, we wake up on 12th March 2020 to a ban on most travel from Europe to the U.S., recommendations for hygiene, and call to come together in America. His remarks focused largely on an immigration and travel policy versus science, triaging, testing and treatment of the virus itself. Here is a link to the President’s full remarks from the White House website, presented at about 9 pm on 11 March 2020. Over the past week, I’ve culled several studies and resources to divine a profile of the U.S. consumer

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“How’s Life?” for American Women? The New OECD Report Reveals Financial Gaps on International Women’s Day 2020

March 8 is International Women’s Day. In the U.S., there remain significant disparities between men and women, in particular related to financial well-being. The first chart comes from the new OECD “How’s Life?” report published today (March 9th) measuring well-being around the country members of the OECD. This chart focuses on women versus men in the United States based on over a dozen key indicators. Top-line, many fewer women feel safe in America, and earnings in dollars and hours worked fall short of men’s incomes. This translates into lower socioeconomic status for women, which diminishes overall health and well-being for

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How Coronavirus Is Re-Shaping Consumer Behavior, From the Amusement Park to the Voting Booth

The coronavirus has shaken U.S. consumer confidence, both in terms of financial markets and personal health risks. COVID-19 is re-shaping peoples’ behavior and daily choices, from using public transit to choosing where to shop, based on Morning Consult’s National Tracking Poll #200276 conducted February 28-March 1, 2020. Morning Consult surveyed 2,200 U.S. adults, finding that 3 in 4 Americans were concerned about the coronavirus outbreak. The first chart from the survey shows various consumer activities by peoples’ likelihood of choosing to do them. Clearly, our daily life-flows outside of our homes have been impacted by our perceived risks of the coronavirus:

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Job #1 for Next President: Reduce Health Care Costs – Commonwealth Fund & NBC News Poll

Four in five U.S. adults say lowering the cost of health care in America should be high priority for the next American president, according to a poll from The Commonwealth Fund and NBC News. Health care costs continue to be a top issue on American voters’ minds in this 2020 Presidential election year, this survey confirms. The first chart illustrates that lowering health care costs is a priority that crosses political parties. This is true for all flavors of health care costs, including health insurance deductibles and premiums, out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, and the cost of long-term care. While

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The High Cost-of-Thriving and the Evolving Social Contract for Health Care

Millions of Americans have to work 53 weeks to cover a year’s worth of household expenses. Most Americans haven’t saved much for their retirement. Furthermore, the bullish macroeconomic outlook for the U.S. in early 2020 hasn’t translated into individual American’s optimism for their own family budgets. (Sidebar and caveat: yesterday was the fourth day in a row of the U.S. financial markets losing as much as 10% of market cap, so the global economic outlook is being revised downward by the likes of Goldman Sachs, Vanguard, and Morningstar, among other financial market prognosticators. MarketWatch called this week the worst market

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Outpatient is the New Inpatient – The Future of Hospitals in America

Outpatient revenue is crossing the curve of inpatient income. This is the new reality for U.S. hospitals and why I’ve titled this post, “outpatient is the new inpatient,” a future paradigm for U.S. hospitals This realization is informed by data in a new report from Deloitte, Where have the many hospital inpatient gone? The line chart illustrates Deloitte’s top and bottom line: “The shift toward outpatient is happening and will likely have a tremendous impact on operations, business models, staffing, and capital. Health systems should prepare for the future today and start thinking not only about how to manage their

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Tools for Paying Medical Bills Don’t Help Health Consumers Manage Their Financial Health

There’s a gap between the supply of digital health tools that hospitals and health systems offer patients, and what patients-as-consumers need for overall health and wellbeing. This chasm is illustrated in The future of the digital patient experience, the latest report from HIMSS and the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM). The big gap in supply to patients vs. demand by health consumers is highlighted by what the arrow in the chart below points to: managing payments and paying bills. Nowhere in the top 10 most commonly provided digital tools is one for price transparency, cost comparing or cost estimating.  In the

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Will Trade Data for (Cheaper) Health Care – USC’s View of the Future

Patients are now front-line payors in the U.S. health care system. As such, American health consumers are wrestling with sticker shock from surgical procedures, surprise medical bills weeks after leaving the hospital, and the cost of prescription drugs — whether six-figure oncology therapies or essential medicines like insulin and EpiPens. To manage personal health finances, patients-as-payors are increasingly willing to face trade-offs and change personal behaviors to lower health care costs, based on research in The Future of Health Care Study from USC’s Center for the Digital Future. The Center analyzed the perspectives of 1,000 U.S. adults in August 2019 regarding

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Americans’ Top 2 Priorities for President Trump and Congress Are To Lower Health Care and Rx Costs

Health care pocketbook issues rank first and second place for Americans in these months leading up to the 2020 Presidential election, according to research from POLITICO and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health published on 19th February 2020. This poll underscores that whether Democrat or Republican, these are the top two domestic priorities among Americans above all other issues polled including immigration, trade agreements, infrastructure and regulations. The point that Robert Blendon, Harvard’s long-time health care pollster, notes is that, “Even among Democrats, the top issues…(are) not the big system reform debates…They’re worried about their own lives, their own

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Most Workers and their Employers Want to Receive Digital Healthcare On-Demand

Most employers and their workers see the benefits of digital health in helping make health care more accessible and lower-cost, according to survey research published in Health on Demand from Mercer Marsh Benefits. Interestingly, more workers living in developing countries are keener on going digital for health than people working in wealthier nations. Mercer’s study was global, analyzing companies and their employees in both mature and growth economies around the world. In total, Mercer interviewed 16,564 workers and 1,300 senior decision makers in companies. The U.S. sample size was 2,051 employees and 100 decision makers. There’s a treasure trove of insights

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The Federal Reserve Chairman Speaks Out on Health Care Costs: “Spending But Getting Nothing”

On February 12, 2020, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of the U.S. submitted the Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress and testified to the Senate Banking Committee. Chairman Jerome Powell detailed the current state of the economy, discussing the state of the macroeconomy, GDP growth, unemployment, inflation, and projections for 2022 and beyond. The top line data points are shown in the first chart. After his prepared remarks, Chairman Powell responded to questions from members of the Senate Banking Committee. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) asked him about health care costs’ impact on the national U.S. economy. The Chairman

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Health@Retail Update: Kroger and Hy-Vee Morph Grocery into Health, Walmart’s Health Center, CVS/housing and More

With our HealthConsuming “health is everywhere” ethos, this post updates some of the most impactful recent retail health developments shaping consumers’ health/care touchpoints beyond hospitals, physicians, and health plans. For inspiration and context, I’ll kick off with Roz Chast’s latest New Yorker cartoon from the February 3rd 2020 issue — Strangers in the Night, taking place in a Duane Reade pharmacy. Roz really channels the scene in front of the pharmacy counter, from Q-tips to vitamins and tea. And it’s hummable to the tune of, well, Strangers in the Night. Check out the 24-hour pharmacist under the pick-up sign. Now,

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

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

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USA Today Finds Hidden Common Ground Among Americans For Health Care

“We need to demand our health citizenship. That means our nation must approach medical treatment and data privacy as civil rights that protect everyone.” This is the start of my column, Americans, let’s claim our health care rights, published by USA Today today. USA Today is publishing a 10-part series called “Hidden Common Ground” addressing key issues where Americans can come together. Thus far, the series has covered climate change, and this month health care. Going forward, we’ll see analyses on jobs, gun rights and violence, and immigration through May’s publishing schedule. In their study conducted in December 2020, USA Today

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

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

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What’s Causing Fewer Primary Care Visits in the US?

Americans who have commercial health insurance (say, through an employer or union) are rarely thought to face barriers to receiving health care — in particular, primary care, that front line provider and on-ramp to the health care system. But in a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, commercially-insured adults were found to have visited primary care providers (PCPs) less often, and 1 in 2 had no PCP visits in one year. In Declining Use of Primary Care Among Commercially Insured Adults in the United States, 2008-2016, the researchers analyzed data from a national sample of adult health

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The State of the Union for Prescription Drug Prices

Tonight, President Trump will present his fourth annual State of the Union address. This morning we don’t have a transcript of the speech ahead of the event, but one topic remains high on U.S. voters’ priorities, across political party – prescription drug prices. Few issues unite U.S. voters in 2020 quite like supporting Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, shown by the October 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll. Whether Democrat, Independent, or Republican, most people living in America favor government intervention in regulating the cost of medicines in some way. In this poll, the top

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A Uniting Issue in the United States is Lowering Prescription Drug Costs

Health care continues to be the top-ranked voting issue in the U.S. looking to the November 2020 Presidential and Congressional elections. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducts the monthly poll which gauges U.S. adults’ perspectives on health care, and this month’s January 2020 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll explores Americans’ views on broad healthcare reform plans and specific medical policy issues. Overall, Americans point to prescription drug costs and the preservation of the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, the first chart tells us. Third and fourth on voters’ minds are protecting patients from surprise medical bills and better

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

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

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Income Inequality is Fostering Mis-Trust, the Edelman 2020 Trust Barometer Observes

Economic development has historically built trust among nations’ citizens. But in developed, wealthier parts of the world, like the U.S., “a record number of countries are experiencing an all-time high ‘mass-class’ trust divide,” according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer. For 20 years, Edelman has released its annual Trust Barometer every year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, recognizing the importance of trust in the global economy and society. Last year, it was the employer who was the most-trusted touch-point in citizens’ lives the world over, I discussed in Health Populi one year ago. This year, even our employers can’t

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Consumers Seek Benefits From Food, a Personal Social Determinant of Health

As consumers in the U.S. wrestle with accessing and paying for medical benefits, there’s another sort of health benefit people increasingly understand, embrace, and consume: food-as-medicine. More people are taking on the role of health consumers as they spend more out-of-pocket on medical care and insurance, and seeking food to bolster their health is part of this behavior change. One in four Americans seek health benefits from food, those who don’t still seek the opportunity to use food for weight loss goals, heart health and energy boosting, according to the 2019 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information

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Trust Is the Currency for Consumer Health Engagement – A Bottom-Line at CES 2020

There’s less talk about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency at #CES2020. The most important currency under discussion is Trust. We have begun a consumer electronics migration from the past decade of the Internet of Things to this next decade of the Intelligence of Things. The different “I’s” signal the transition from devices that have connected to the Internet and generated data from our everyday lives, to the next ten years of gathering that data, mashing it up for meaning, and feeding back intelligence to users in the form of advising, coaching, nudging — with potentially powerful feedback loops for health, wellness and

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The Internet of Teeth – The Growth of Oral Health at CES 2020

The presence of health and medicine is growing at CES, the annual conference of all-things-tech for consumers. At this week’s Show in Las Vegas, we see that the Internet of Healthy Things (a phrase coined by Dr. Joe Kvedar) has taken hold and gone mainstream in remote health monitoring, wearable tech, and heart rate tracking which is now embedded (and expected by health-seeking consumers) in wristbands. An expanding category in the Internet of Healthy Things is oral care. Let’s call this the Internet of Teeth, yet another riff on “IoT.” Of course, oral health goes well beyond teeth and toothbrushes.

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In 2020, PwC Expects Consumers to Grow DIY Healthcare Muscles As Medical Prices Increase

The new year will see a “looming tsunami” of high prices in healthcare, regulation trumping health reform, more business deals reshaping the health/care industry landscape, and patients growing do-it-yourself care muscles, according to Top health industry issues of 2020: Will digital start to show an ROI from the PwC Health Research Institute. I’ve looked forward to reviewing this annual report for the past few years, and always learn something new from PwC’s team of researchers who reach out to experts spanning the industry. In this 14th year of the publication, PwC polled executives from payers, providers, and pharma/life science organizations. Internally,

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Medicare Members Are Health Consumers, Too – Our AHIP Talk About Aging, Digital Immigrants, and Personalizing Health/Care

As Boomers age, they’re adopting mobile and smart technology platforms that enable people to communicate with loved ones, manage retirement investment portfolios, ask Alexa to play Frank Sinatra’s greatest hits, and manage prescription refills from the local grocery store pharmacy. Last week, the Giant Eagle grocery chain was the first pharmacy retailer to offer a new medication management skill via Alexa. That program has the potential to change our Medicare members manage meds at home to ensure better adherence, supporting better health outcomes and personal feelings of efficacy and control. [As an aside, consumers really value pharmacies embedded in grocery

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The Patient As Payor: Workers Covered by Employer Health Insurance Spend 11.5% of Household Incomes on Premiums and Deductibles

Workers covered by health insurance through their companies spend 11.5% of their household income on health insurance premiums and deductibles based on The Commonwealth Fund’s latest report on employee health care costs, Trends in Employer Health Coverage, 2008-2018: Higher Costs for Workers and Their Families. The topline of this study is that average annual growth in employer premiums rose faster between 2016 and 2017, by about 5% for both single and family plans. The bottom line for families is that workers’ premium payments grew faster than median incomes did over the ten years 2008 to 2018. Average deductibles also outpaced

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Being Transparent About Healthcare Transparency – My Post on the Medecision Blog

With new rules emanating from the White House this month focusing on health care price transparency, health care costs are in the spotlight at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A hospital transparency mandate will go into effect in January 2021 as a final rule, and a second rule with a focus on health plans and friendly explanations-of-benefits will receive comments in the Federal Register until January 14, 2020. As patients continue to grow muscles as payors and health consumers, transparency is one key to enabling people to “shop” for those health care and medical products and services that

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

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

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Hospitals Suffer Decline in Consumer Satisfaction

While customer satisfaction with health insurance plans slightly increased between 2018 and 2019, patient satisfaction with hospitals fell in all three settings where care is delivered — inpatient, outpatient, and the emergency room, according to the 2018-2019 ACSI Finance, Insurance and Health Care Report. ACSI polls about 300,000 U.S. consumers each year to gauge satisfaction with over 400 companies in 46 industries. For historic trends, you can check out my coverage of the 2014 version of this study here in Health Populi. The 2019 ACSI report bundles finance/banks, insurance (property/casualty, life and health) and hospitals together in one document. Health

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Longevity Stalls Around the World And Wealth, More Concentrated

Two separate and new OECD reports, updating health and the global economic outlook, raise two issues that are inter-related: that gains in longevity are stalling, with chronic illnesses and mental ill health affecting more people; and, as wealth grows more concentrated among the wealthy, the economic outlook around most of the world is also slowing. First, we’ll mine the Health at a Glance 2019 annual report covering data on population health, health system performance, and medical spending across OECD countries. The first chart arrays the x-y data points of life expectancy versus health spending for each of the OECD countries

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Social Determinants of Health – My Early Childhood Education and Recent Learnings, Shared at the HealthXL Global Gathering

My cousin Arlene got married in Detroit at the classic Book Cadillac Hotel on July 23, 1967, a Sunday afternoon wedding. When Daddy drove us back out to our suburban home about 30 minutes from the fancy hotel, the car radio was tuned to WWJ Newsradio 950, all news all the time. As soon as Daddy switched on the radio, we were shocked by the news of a riot breaking out in the city, fires and looting and gunshots and chaos in the Motor City. Two days later, my father, who did business with Mom-and-Pop retail store owners in the

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

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

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A Tale of Two Americas as Told by the 2019 OECD Report on Health

It was the best of times, It was the worst of times, It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, … starts Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities.  That’s what came to my mind when reading the latest global health report from the OECD, Health at a Glance 2019, which compares the United States to other nations’ health care outcomes, risk factors, access metrics, and spending. Some trends are consistent across the wealthiest countries of the world, many sobering, such as: Life expectancy rates fell in 19 of the

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The Link Between Wellness & Wealth Is Powerful for Everyone – and Especially Women

In the U.S., the link between wellness and wealth, money and health, is strong and common across people, young and old. But the impacts of money on health, well-being, and life choices varies across the ages, based on a study from Lively, a company that builds platforms for health savings accounts. The first chart illustrates that health care costs challenge people in many ways: the most obvious health care cost problems prevent people from saving more for retirement or paying down debt. Eight in 10 Americans concur that rising health care costs challenge their ability to save for retirement. Beyond the

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

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

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Thinking About Health Care One Year From the 2020 Presidential Election

Today is 4th November 2019, exactly one year to the day that Americans can express their political will and cast their vote for President of the United States. Health care will be a key issue driving people to their local polling places, so it’s an opportune moment to take the temperature on U.S. voters’ perspectives on healthcare reform. This post looks at three current polls to gauge how Americans are feeling about health care reform 365 days before the 2020 election, and one day before tomorrow’s 2019 municipal and state elections. Today’s Financial Times features a poll that found two-thirds

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

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

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While Costs Are A Top Concern Among Most U.S. Patients, So Are Challenges of Poverty, Food, and Housing

Rising health care costs continue to concern most Americans, with one in two people believing they’re one sickness away from getting into financial trouble, according to the 2019 Survey of America’s Patients conducted for The Physicians Foundation. In addition to paying for “my” medical bills, most people in the U.S. also say that income inequality and inadequate social services significantly contribute to high medical spending for every health citizen in the nation. The Physicians Foundation conducts this study into Americans’ views on the U.S. health care system every other year. This year’s poll was conducted in September 2019 and included input

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Making Health Care Better, from the N of 1 to the Public’s Health – Trend-Weaving Medecision Liberation 2019

Health and our health information are deeply personal. Changing health care and inspiring positive health behaviors is hard to do. But we must and we will, a group of inspiring and inspired people who work across the health/care ecosystem affirmed this week in Dallas at the conference of Medecision Liberation 2019. I was engaged at this conference to wear several hats — as a keynote speaker, a sort of “emcee,” and, finally, to trend-weave the many talks and discussions happening throughout the meeting. This post is my synthesis of the summary I delivered live at the end of the conference,

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Learning from Dr. Eric Topol, Live from Medecision Liberation 2019

“Bold thinking is great. Bold doing is better,” Dr. Eric Topol introduced his talk yesterday at Medecision’s Liberation 2019 conference. I have the opportunity, for which I’m so grateful, of not only attending this meeting but playing a role as a speaker, a sometimes stage “emcee,” and a keynote speaker. And as an attendee, I learn so much from other speakers, fellow attendees, and Medecision staff all sharing perspectives during breakouts and networking breaks. In mode of attendee (and self-confessed collegial-groupie of Dr. Topol’s), I took in his remarks taking notes as fast as I could thanks to Mom teaching

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

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

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Health Consumer Behaviors in the U.S. Stall, Alegeus Finds in the 2019 Index

In the U.S., the theory of and rationale behind consumer-directed health has been that if you give a patient more financial skin-in-the-game — that is, to compel people to spend more out-of-pocket on health care — you will motivate that patient to don the hat of a consumer — to mindfully research, shop around, and purchase health care in a rational way, benefit from lower-cost and high-quality healthcare services. For years, Alegeus found that patients were indeed growing those consumer health muscles to save and shop for health care. In 2019, it appears that patients have backslid, according to the

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Patients Growing Health Consumer Muscles Expect Digital Services

Patients’ experiences with the health care industry fall short of their interactions with other industries — namely online retail, online banking and online travel, a new survey from Cedar, a payments company, learned. Survata conducted the study for Cedar among 1,607 online U.S. consumers age 18 and over in August and September 2019. These study respondents had also visited a doctor or hospital and paid a medical bill in the past year. One-third of these patients had a health care bill go to collections in the past year, according to Cedar’s 2019 U.S. Healthcare Consumer Experience Study. Among those people

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What the 2019 Nobel Prize Winners in Economics Teach Us About Health

The three winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Economics — Banerjee and Duflo (both of MIT) and Kremer (working at Harvard) — were recognized for their work on alleviating global poverty.” “Over 700 million people still subsist on extremely low incomes. Every year, five million children still die before their fifth birthday, often from diseases that could be prevented or cured with relatively cheap and simple treatments,” The Nobel Prize website notes. To respond to this audaciously huge challenge, Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer asked quite specific, granular questions that have since shaped the field of development economics — now

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

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

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The Hospital CFO in the Anxiety Economy – My Talk at Cerner’s Now/Next Conference

As patients have taken on more financial responsibility for first-dollar costs in high-deductible health plans and medical bills, hospitals and health care providers face growing fiscal pressures for late payments and bad debt. Those financial pressures are on both sides of the health care payment transaction, stressing patients-as-payors and health care financial managers alike. I’m speaking to health industry stakeholders on patients-as-payors at Cerner’s Now/Next conference today about the patient-as-payor, a person primed for engagement. That’s as in “Amazon-Primed,” which patients in their consumer lives now use as their retail experience benchmark. But consumers-as-patients don’t feel like health care today

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The New Health/Care is Patient-Led, Retail-Enabled – The GMDC Self-Care Summit

SelfCare is health/care, particularly as patients, everyday people, take on greater responsibility for clinical decisions and paying for medical services. We’re convening today through Sunday in Indianapolis with GMDC, the Global Market Development Center and Retail Tomorrow to brainstorm the current and future prospects for SelfCare, health and wellness in the hands, hearts, and homes of consumers. To bolster the message and engage with industry stakeholders, GMDC collaborated with the Hamacher Resource Group to develop a SelfCare Roadmap, an interactive tool that provides insights into twelve conditions where consumers typically looking to DIY their health using over-the-counter medicines, supplies and

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

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

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How Can Patients Be Health Consumers in an Un-Transparent World?

That question in the title of this post is begged in the annual 2019 consumer survey released this week from UnitedHealthcare (UHC). UHC gauges peoples’ views on health care, insurance, and costs in its yearly research. This year, transparency and health literacy challenges top the findings. When the three in ten folks do shop, four in ten people used the internet or mobile apps to do so — a dramatic increase from 2012. Shopping is most commonly done among Millennials, one-half of whom shop for health care services. Of people who have used digital tools for health care shopping, 8

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“It’s the Deductible, Stupid” – Health Premiums Reach $20,576 in 2019 for a Family

        Here’s the latest arithmetic on American workers’ financial trade-off of wages for health care insurance coverage: in the ten years since 2009, family premiums have risen 54% and workers’ contribution to health care spending grew 71%. Wages? They rose 26%, and general price inflation by 20%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation survey on employer-sponsored benefits for 2019 released yesterday. Survey details for this 21st annual encyclopedia on employer-sponsored health care are published in Health Affairs October 2019 issue in a paper titled, Health Benefits in 2019: Premiums Inch Higher, Employers Respond to Federal Policy. Because this

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Worrying About Paying for Health Care Is the Norm in America

Among stresses facing people at least 50 years of age, health care costs rank top of mind compared with other issues like long-term care, health insurance, Social Security, taxes, and being read to retire. Worries about health care costs are particularly stressful among future retirees, 8 of 10 of whom share this top concern along with 7 in 10 recent retirees and 6 in 10 people retired for at least a decade. Health care stress cuts in two ways: most people are worried about paying for health care, as well as experienced an unanticipated decline in their health, according to

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Worrying About Possible Recession Compels Health Consumers to Seek Less Care

Four in ten U.S. patients said the state of the economy changes how often they seek health care, according to a new study from TransUnion, the credit agency that operates in the health care finance space. Nearly two-thirds of patients said that knowing their out-of-pocket expenses in advance of receiving health care services influenced the likelihood of their seeking care. Given reports from mass media, business press and regional Federal Reserve press releases, the short-to-midterm economic outlook may be softening, which is the signal that TransUnion is receiving in this health consumer poll. The other side of this personal health

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Prelude to Health 2.0 2019: Thinking Consumers At the Center of Digital Health Transformation

“Digital transformation” is the corporate strategy flavor of the moment across industries, and the health are sector isn’t immune from the trend. As this 13th year of the annual Health 2.0 Conference kicks off this week, I’m focused on finding digital health innovations that engage people — consumers, caregivers, patients, health citizens all. This year’s conference will convene thought leaders across a range of themes, and as is the Health 2.0 modus operandi, live demo’s of new-new things. As Health 2.0 kicks off today in pre-conference sessions, there is useful context described in a new report from the American Hospital

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Most U.S. Voters Support Building on the ACA, Not Medicare For All, As Fewer Americans Have Insurance Coverage

The vast majority of Americans favor lowering the cost of prescriptions, keeping the Affordable Care Act’s provisions to cover pre-existing conditions, lower overall medical costs, and protect people from surprise medical bills, according to the KFF Health Tracking Poll – September 2019: Health Care Policy In Congress And On The Campaign Trail. The big headline in this poll following last night’s third Democratic Presidential debate is that 55% of Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independent voters prefer a candidate that will build on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) versus a President that would replace the ACA with a Medicare For All plan (M4A).

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The Pharma Industry Hits Bottom of Consumers’ Industry Rankings, and Healthcare Is Only Marginally Higher on the List

from Gallup’s 2019 survey into Americans’ Views of U.S. Business Industry Sectors. Since reaching a relative high regard in 2015, the pharma industry reputation among consumers has declined each year since to the low this year with 58% of Americans having a negative view. This was a 31 percentage point drop in reputation in one year. This is one negativity point above peoples’ low regard for the Federal government. Gallup notes that Americans are over two times more likely to rank the pharmaceutical industry negatively (58%) as positively (27%). The healthcare industry, apart from pharma, didn’t fare well this year in

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Growing Support for Medicare for All – But Do People Really Understand What It Means?

Two new data points converge that beg the question in the title of this post. These two surveys are: The Morning Consult’s poll published today finding growing support among Democratic voters for Medicare for All as the centerpiece for health reform in America; and, A recent study from Eligibility.com on “Medicare Myths Explained,” with the tagline, “How much do you know about Medicare?” Not so very much, Eligibility.com found out. Let’s start with the Morning Consult poll results, which compare support for Medicare for All from January 2019 and August 2019. The headline number from this poll is seen in

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The New Employer Wellness Lens Includes Mental Health, Telehealth and Women’s Health

U.S. employers are tightening their focus on mental and behavioral health, addressing workers’ chronic conditions, emphasizing women’s health, and allocating more resources to digital and telehealth investments, we learn from Optum’s Ten Years of Health and Well-Being at Work: Learning from our past and reimagining the future. Four in five medium, large and jumbo companies expect their spending on health and wellness programs will increase over the next three years. That spending will have a strong focus on behavioral health services: 9 in 10 employers are concerned with the level of access workers have to mental health services. Companies will

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Health Care Providers Grow Consumer-Facing Muscles Driven by Retail & Tech-Health Competition

As patients continue to morph into health care payers, they’re increasingly expecting value-for-money, transparency, and customer experiences that show respect, bolster trust, and deliver quality services. Is that so much to ask from health care providers? Sure is, as it turns out, based on this year’s annual report from Kaufman Hall, the 2019 State of Consumerism in Healthcare: The Bar is Rising. For several years, Kaufman Hall have developed an Index of healthcare consumerism based on several pillars that, together, gauge health care providers’ performance on consumer health engagement. Providers fall into one of four tiers, ranging from Tier 1

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Getting More Personal, Virtual and Excellent – the 2020 NBGH Employer Report

In 2020, large employers will be “doubling down” efforts to control health care costs. Key strategies will include deploying more telehealth and virtual health care services, Centers of Excellence for high-cost conditions, and getting more personal in communicating and engaging through platforms. This is the annual forecast for 2020 brought to us by the National Business Group of Health (NBGH), the Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey. The 42-page report is packed with strategic and tactical data looking at the 2020 tea leaves for large employers, representing over 15 million covered lives. Nearly 150 companies were surveyed

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From Health Consumers to Health Citizens – a U.S. Patient Rights Moonshot?

Issue No. 4 of StartUp Health Magazine is dedicated to 8 Health Moonshot Principles. StartUp Health sees these moonshots taken together as, “a blueprint for achieving the impossible.” There’s an aspect of U.S. health care that currently feels impossible to achieve, and that’s consensus on what would constitute a sound approach to covering all Americans for health care as a civil right and whether the nation can “afford” doing so. On pages 22-23 of the digital magazine, you’ll find my essay, “From Health Consumers to Health Citizens.” This write-up summarizes the plotline of my book titled HealthConsuming, which features that

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

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

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Talking “HealthConsuming” on the MM&M Podcast

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

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Love ACA Provisions, Not the ACA – KFF Poll Reveals American Voters’ Views on Health Care Reform

Today is the bridge day between The Battle of the Democratic Primary Candidates Debate #2 Part 1 and tonight, Part 2. So it’s a good time to take stock of U.S. voters’ views on health care, through the lens of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health Tracking Poll for July 2019 published yesterday. Health care is the top issue Democrats want to hear about in the debates, well ahead of climate change, women’s issues, immigration and gun policy. Let’s start with an overall context statistic from this poll: that is that 86% of insured U.S. adults like their health insurance plan

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100 Million People in America Lack Broadband — an On-Ramp to Health and Safety

One in three Americans does not have a broadband connection, according to a new report from the NPD Group. This means that about 100 million people in the U.S. can’t benefit from telehealth and other digital health connections that can bolster self-care, home care, and lower cost care. Most of these folks in the broadband-digital divide live in rural America/ “The so-called digital divide, between those that can or cannot make the best use of the Internet, can be clearly felt in rural markets where the lack of broadband impacts everything from entertainment to the educational system,” Eddie Hold, President

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Milliman Finds PPO for Family of 4 in 2019 Will Cost $28,386

This year, an employer-sponsored PPO for a family of four in the U.S. will cost $28,386, a 3.6% increase over 2018, according to the 2019 Milliman Medical Index (MMI). Based on my annual read of this year’s Index, the PPO costs roughly the same as a new Dodge Charger or a year attending the engineering school at Alfred University. The Milliman MMI team has updated the methodology for the Index; the chart shown here is my own, recognizing that the calculations and assumptions beneath the 2019 data point differ from previous years. The key points of the report are that:

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Marketing Health To Consumers in the Age of Retail Disruption

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

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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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