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The Social Determinants of Food for Health, Farms, and the Economy

America’s agricultural roots go deep, from the native Patuxet tribe that shared maize with Mayflower settling Pilgrims in southern New England, to biodynamic and organic winemakers in Sonoma County, California, operating today. In 2016, 21.4 million full- and part-time jobs were related to agriculture and food sectors, about 11% of total U.S. employment. Farming is an integral part of a nation’s food system, so the Union of Concerned Scientists developed the 50-State Food System Scorecard to gauge the state of farming and food in the U.S. on several dimensions: diet and health outcomes, farming as an industry and economic engine,

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Consumers Consider Cost When They Think About Medical Innovation

While the vast majority of Americans say that science has made life easier for most people, and especially for health care, people are split in questioning the financial cost and value of medical treatments, the Pew Research Center has found. The first chart illustrates the percent of Americans identifying various aspects of medical treatments as “big problems.” If you add in people who see these as “small problems,” 9 in 10 Americans say that all of these line items are “problems.” In the sample, two-thirds of respondents had seen a health care provider for an illness or medical condition in

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What the Pew Data on Americans’ Views on Technology Means for Healthcare

Most Americans say that pharmaceutical manufacturers, banks, advertisers, energy firms, and tech companies have too much power and influence in today’s American economy, according to Public Attitudes Toward Technology Companies, a research report from the Pew Research Center. A plurality of Americans says labor unions and farming and agriculture have too little power, along with a majority of people who believe that small business lacks sufficient power in the current U.S. economy. This data point is part of a larger consumer survey on Americans’ attitudes about the growing role of technology in society, particularly with respect to political and social impacts.

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

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

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Obese, Access-Challenged and Self-Rationing: America’s Health Vs Rest-of-World

          The U.S. gets relatively low ROI for its relatively exorbitant spending on healthcare, noted once again in the latest Health at a Glance, the annual OECD report on member nations’ healthcare systems. The report includes U.S. country data asking, “How does the United States compare?” with its sister OECD countries. The answer is, “not well across most population health, access, and mortality measures.” For the Cliff’s Notes/Where’s Waldo top-line of the research, find the two long bars in this chart heading “south” of the OECD average, and one long blue bar going “north.” The northern climbing bar

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The Healthiest Communities Are Built on Education, Good Food, Mindfulness, and the Power of Love

Be the change you wish to see in the world, Gandhi has been attributed as saying. This sentiment was echoed by Lauren Singer as we brainstormed the social determinants of health and the factors that underpin healthy communities. Our Facebook Live session was convened by the Aetna Foundation, which sponsored research on the Healthiest Communities in 2018.  In addition to Lauren, founder of Trash Is For Tossers, Dr. Garth Graham, President of the Aetna Foundation, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education at UCLA, and I joined the quartet, moderated with panache and sensitivity by Mark J. Ellwood, journalist. Each

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The U.S. is a Nation in Pain – America’s Life Expectancy Fell Again in 2016

American saw the greatest number of deaths from suicide and alcohol- and drug-induced fatalities was recorded in 2016. That statistic of nearly 142,000 equates to deaths from stroke and exceed the number of deaths among Americans who died in all U.S. wars since 1950, according to Pain in the Nation Update from the Well Being Trust and Trust for America’s Health. The line graph soberly illustrates the growing tragic public health epidemic of mortality due to preventable causes, those deaths of despair as Anne Case and Sir Angus Deaton have observed in their research into this uniquely all-American phenomenon. While this

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The Gap Between the Trump Administration’s Promise of Reducing Rx Costs for Consumers and What People Really Want

This is what happened to pharma stock prices on Friday after President Trump and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar outlined their new policies focusing on prescription drug prices. The graph is the Nasdaq U.S. Smart Pharmaceuticals Index (NQSSPH) from May 11, 2018, the date when POTUS and Secretary Azar made their announcement. What this upward driving curve indicates, from the start of stock trading in the morning until the ring of the closing bell, is that the pharma industry players, both manufacturers and PBMs, were quite delighted with what they heard. The blueprint for restructuring the prescription drug industry,

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Having Health Insurance Is a Social Determinant of Health: the implications of growing uninsured in the U.S.

The rolls of the uninsured are growing in America, the latest Gallup-Sharecare Poll indicates. The U.S. uninsurance rate rose to 12.2% by the fourth quarter of 2017, up 1.3 percentage points from the year before. 2017 reversed advancements in health insurance coverage increases since the advent of the Affordable Care Act, and for the first time since 2014 no states’ uninsured rates fell. The 17 states with declines in insurance rates were Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Among these, the greatest

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Universal Health Care and Financial Inclusion – Two Sides of the Wellness Coin

Two weeks in a row, The Economist, the news magazine headquartered in London, included two special reports stapled into the middle of the magazines. Universal health care was covered in a section on 28 April 2018, and coverage on financial inclusion was bundled into the 5th May edition. While The Economist’s editors may not have intended for these two reports to reinforce each other, my lens on health and healthcare immediately, and appreciatively, connected the dots between healthcare coverage and financial wellness. The Economist, not known for left-leaning political tendencies whatsoever, lays its bias down on the cover of the section here: universal healthcare

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Pharma Spending Gone Bipolar: Generics At One End, Specialty Drugs on the Other

While the use of medicines continues to rise in the U.S., spending grew by only 0.6% in 2017 after accounting for discounts and rebates. In retail and mail-order channels, net spending fell by 2.1%. Prescription drug spending on branded products grew nearly $5 billion less than in 2016; generic drug spending fell by $5.5 billion, according to Medicine Use and Spending in the U.S., a report from the IQVIA Institute for Health Data Science. The report reviews medicines spending in 2017 looking forward to 2022. There were over 5.8 billion prescriptions dispensed in 2017, and generic drugs accounted 90% of

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

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

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How the Latest on Facebook and the “Deep State” Could Undermine Patient Data Sharing and AI

There’s a potential large obstacle that could prevent the full benefits of the current go-go, bullish forecasts for artificial intelligence (AI) to help make healthcare better: a decline in consumers’ willingness to share their personal data. Along with the overall erosion of peoples’ trust in government and other institutions comes this week’s revelations about Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and the so-called Deep State. Three-fourths of Americans believe that some type of “Deep State” in the federal government exists, a new poll from Monmouth University published yesterday. I clipped the responses to three of the survey’s most relevant questions here. Not only

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How We Spend Versus What We Get: America’s Healthcare Spending Makes for Poor Health

The U.S. spent nearly twice as much as other wealthy countries on healthcare, mostly due to higher prices for both labor and products (especially prescription drugs). And, America spends more on administrative costs compared to other high-income countries. What do U.S. taxpayers get in return for that spending? Lower life spans, higher maternal and infant mortality, and the highest level of obesity and overweight among our OECD peer nations. These sobering statistics were published in Health Care Spending in the United States and Other High-Income Countries this week in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study analyzes

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Tweets at Lunch with Paul Krugman – Health IT Meets Economics

            I greatly appreciated the opportunity today to attend a luncheon at the HX360 meeting which convened as part of the 2018 HIMSS Conference. The speaker at this event was Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics 10 years ago and today is an iconic op-ed columnist at the New York Times And Distinguished Professor of Economics at the City University of New York (CUNY). I admit to being a bit of a groupie for Paul Krugman’s work. It tickles me to look at Rise Global’s list of the Top 100 Influential Economists:

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A Tale of Two States: Idaho, Limiting Health Plan Benefits; and Oregon, Moving Toward Universal Health Care

The United States don’t feel very united these days on a whole range of issues. But today, I’m struck by a 180-degree-apart chasm between Idaho and Oregon. While the centers of these two states only lie 290 miles from each other, they are worlds apart when it comes to their views on their residents as health citizens. Idaho. First, let’s travel to Idaho, aka the Gem State due to its rich endowment of natural resources. Health insurers in the state are now allowed to offer plans with limited benefits, escaping the rules for plans in the Affordable Care Act that

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The $4 Trillion Health Economy of 2020

In 2020, national health expenditures (NHE) in the United States will exceed $4 trillion to cover 334.5 million Americans. That equates to 18.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and $12,230.40 of health spending per person. I sat in on a press call today with researchers from the Office of the Actuary working in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to review the annual forecast of the NHE, published in Health Affairs in a statistically-dense eleven page article titled, National Health Expenditure Projections, 2017-2026: Despite Uncertainty, Fundamentals Primarily Drive Spending Growth. What are those “fundamentals” pushing up healthcare spending?

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The United States of Care Launches to Promote Healthcare for All of US

Let’s change the conversation and put healthcare over  politics.  Sounds just right, doesn’t it? If you’re reading Health Populi, then you’re keen on health policy, health economics, most of all, patients: now playing starring roles as consumers, caregivers, and payors in their own care. Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has assembled a diverse group of health care leaders who care about those patients/people, too, appropriately named the United States of Care. Founders include Dr. Bill Frist, former Republican U.S. Senator from Tennessee, Dave Durenberger, former Republican U.S. Senator from Minnesota, and

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Most Americans Say Healthcare is #1 Policy Issue Entering 2018

Concerns about health care are, by a large margin, the top domestic policy issue U.S. voters identified as they enter 2018. The proportion of Americans citing healthcare as the top public agenda priority grew by 50% since 2016, from 31% two years ago to 48%. Taxes rank #2 this year, garnering 31% of Americans’ concerned, followed by immigration, which has remained flat cited by about one-in-four Americans. The Associated Press (AP)-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research polled 1,444 U.S. adults 18 and over between November 30 and December 4, 2017 for this survey. While one-half of Americans would like the

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Health Consumers Face the New Year Concerned About Costs, Security and Caring – Health Populi’s 2018 Forecast

As 2018 approaches, consumers will gather healthy New Year’s Resolutions together. Entering the New Year, most Americans are also dealing with concerns about healthcare costs, cybersecurity, and caring – for physical health, mental stress, and the nation. Healthcare costs continue to be top-of-mind for consumer pocketbook issues. Entrenched frugality is the new consumer ethos. While the economy might be statistically improving, American consumers’ haven’t regained confidence. In 2018, frugality will impact how people look at healthcare costs. 88% of US consumers are likely to consider cost when selecting a healthcare provider, a Conduent survey found. Physicians know this: 81% of

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Support for the Affordable Care Act the Highest Since Passage

Americans’ approval of the Affordable Care Act reached its apex in December 2017, the Pew Research Center found. The proportion of people approving the ACA has been growing since the middle of 2016, now at 56% of the public. The timing of this survey, conducted at the end of November and first few days of December 2017, coincides with Congress’s arm-wrestling a tax bill that would eliminate the individual mandate for health insurance which is an ACA building block for universal coverage in the United States. Most people in the U.S. also believe that the ACA has had a positive

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Six Healthcare News Stories to Keep Hospital CFOs Up At Night

At this moment, the healthcare job I’d least like to have is that of a non-profit hospital Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Five news stories, published in the past 24 hours, tell the tale: First, Moody’s forecast for non-profit hospitals and healthcare in 2018 is negative due to reimbursement and expense pressures. The investors report cited an expected contraction in cash flow, lower reimbursement rates, and rising expense pressures in the midst of rising bad debt. Second, three-quarters of Federally Qualified Health Centers plan to lay off staff given lack of budget allocations resulting from Congressional inaction. Furthermore, if the $3.6

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

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

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U.S. Healthcare Spending & Outcomes in Five Charts: #EpicFail in the 2017 OECD Statistics

“Spend more. Get less.” If a retailer advertised using these four words, how many consumers would buy that product or service? This is the American reality of healthcare spending in 2016, told in the OECD report, Health at a Glance 2017. I present five charts from the study in this post, which together take the current snapshot health-economic lesson for the U.S. First, look at health expenditures as a share of gross domestic product: the U.S. is number one above Switzerland, France, and the UK, and about two times the OECD average. Note, too, the proportion of out-of-pocket and so-called

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Stress is US: Health Care Is the #1 Stressor in America

Above the economy, trust in government, crime, war, terrorism, and taxes, health care is the top cause of stress in America. For ten years, the American Psychological Association has gauged Americans’ collective mood in their ongoing study, Stress in America. The latest report is The State of Our Nation, published this month, finding that we’re at the “lowest point in our nation’s history” according to 59% of Americans. The 2016 national election in the U.S. raised the stress-stakes, when APA released a stress study we discussed here in Health Populi. The election season was a source of stress for 52%

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2017 Rx Cost Trend Over 5 Times U.S. Inflation, Segal Projects

Driven by price increases, costs for the prescription drug benefit carve-out will increase 11.6% this year, based on Segal Consulting’s survey report, High Rx Cost Trends Projected to Be Lower for 2018, published today. The report is accessible on the Segal Co. website. While the Segal team expects prescription drug (Rx) benefit plan cost trends to be “less severe” in 2018, Rx cost increases is a top priority for many sponsors of health plans as their rate of increase far exceeds those for inpatient hospital claims or physician expense. Drug costs continue to be the fastest-growing line item in health

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More Americans Consuming News Via Social Media Platforms in 2017 – Implications for Health

2 in 3 Americans get news via social media, according to News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017 from the Pew Research Center. One in 5 people get news “often” from social media, shown in the first chart. The growth of people accessing news via social media, overall, hasn’t dramatically grown in the year since 2016. But underneath that fairly flat trend is some important movement to note by demographic cohort, which has implications for health/healthcare marketing: 55% of people 50 and over are social media news consumers (8 in 10 people under 50 are) Nonwhites are more likely than whites

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

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

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Most Americans, Including Republicans, Want President Trump’s Administration to Make the ACA Work – Not Fail

8 in 10 Americans want President Trump and his administration to do what they can to make the Affordable Care Act work, according to the latest August 2017 health tracking poll from Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). By political party affiliation, this includes 95% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 52% of Republicans (that is, to emphasize the point, just over half, a majority, of Republicans). More Americans are also relieved and happy, versus disappointed and angry, that the ACA repeal did not occur (thus far), the second chart illustrates. To be sure, a majority of Republicans register anger and disappointment,

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

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

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Health Equity Lessons from July 23, 1967, Detroit

On July 23, 1967, I was a little girl wearing a pretty dress, attending my cousin’s wedding at a swanky hotel in mid-town Detroit. Driving home with my parents and sisters after the wedding, the radio news channel warned us of the blazing fires that were burning in a part of the city not far from where we were on a highway leading out to the suburbs. Fifty years and five days later, I am addressing the subject of health equity at a speech over breakfast at the American Hospital Association 25th Annual Health Leadership Summit today. In my talk,

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Fix the ACA, Most Americans Say

  61% of Americans hold negative views of repealing-and-replacing the Affordable Care Act, according to the July 2017 Health Tracking Poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. This month’s survey focused on Americans’ views on Republican legislative efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As of the writing of this post, the majority of the Senate rejected the full repeal of the ACA, but the situation is very fluid. Note that this poll was conducted by phone between July 5-10, 2017, among 1,183 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The column chart here illustrates that the proportion of people

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Weaving Accenture’s Five Digital Health Technology Trends for 2017

Technology should serve people, and Accenture has identified five major key trends that, together, could forge a person-centered, -friendly, -empowering healthcare system. This is Accenture’s Digital Health Technology Vision for 2017. “Should” and “could” are the important adverbs here, because if tech doesn’t deliver, driving efficiency and effectiveness, personalizing medical treatments, and inspiring people to become more health literate and health-engaging, then tech is just a Field of Dreams being built and available, with no people taking advantage of the potential benefits. The five new-new tech trends are: AI is the new UI, where healthcare experience is everything Ecosystem power

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Note to Mooch: The ER is Not Universal Health Care

I quote directly from the Twitter feed of Anthony Scaramucci, @scaramucci: “@dhank2525 agree. We already have Univ Health Care, we made decision long ago to treat everyone that enters an emergency room.” Mr. Scaramucci is President Trump’s Communications Chief, replacing Sean Spicer. Mr. Scaramucci is neither veteran journalist nor healthcare policy wonk. He’s a successful businessman, which I respect for his savvy and ability to build a fund, attract investors, and create a media persona which he has telegenically broadcast on CNBC and elsewhere over the past decade. He’s got a engaging public personality, and goes by the moniker, “Mooch.” But

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Is There Political Will for Healthcare Access in the US?

The Netherlands, France and Germany are the best places to be a patient, based on the Global Access to Healthcare Index, developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Throughout the world, nations wrestle with how to provide healthcare to health citizens, in the context of stretched government budgets and demand for innovative and accessible services. The Global Access to Healthcare Index gauges countries’ healthcare systems in light of peoples’ ability to access services, detailed in Global Access to Healthcare: Building Sustainable Health Systems. The United States comes up 10th in line (tied with Spain) in this analysis. Countries that score the

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Costs of Healthcare Top Americans’ Financial Concerns: It’s Financial Health Matters Day

Americans are most worried about healthcare costs among all financial concerns; most people in the U.S. also believe the Federal government should ensure that all people have health coverage. Two polls published in the past week point to the fact that most U.S. health citizens are concerned about health care for themselves and their families, driving a growing proportion of people to favor a single-payer health system. The first line chart illustrates a dramatic trajectory up of the number of American identifying healthcare costs as their #1 financial problem, rising from 10% of people in 2013 to 17% in 2017.

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Global Drug Sales Forecasts Fall For Next Five Years

Total prescription drug sales have been trimmed, based on calculations of EvaluatePharma which forecasts a $390 bn drop in revenues between 2017 and 2022. “Political and public scrutiny over pricing of both new and old drugs is not going to go away,” EvaluatePharma called out in its report. The intense scrutiny on pharma industry pricing was fostered by Martin Shkreli in his pricing of Daraprim (taking a $13.50 product raising the price to $750), Harvoni and Sovaldi pricing for Hepatitis C therapies, and last year’s EpiPen pricing uproar. A May 2017 analysis of prescription drug costs by AARP judges that, “Nothing

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Americans Say Healthcare is the Nation’s #1 Problem – Tied with Dissatisfaction with Government

Healthcare tops the list of Americans’ concerns, tied with a dissatisfaction for government, this month (May 2017). According to a Gallup poll published 12 May, poor government leadership and healthcare are together the most important problem currently facing the U.S. Immigration, the economy, jobs, and race relations are distance 3rd places in this survey, which was conducted during the first week of May 2017 among 1,011 U.S. adults 18 years and older. The highest percent of Americans citing healthcare as America’s most important problem was 26%, found in August/September 2008 when town hall meetings round the country were protesting healthcare

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Women and Children First? What the AHCA Holds for Vulnerable Populations

In accounting, there’s a rule with acronym “LIFO;” this stands for “last in, first out,” which requires taking account of the most recent cost of products being the first ones to be expensed on the ledger. I’m thinking about LIFO when it comes to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) which narrowly passed through Congress yesterday by 4 votes, with a final tally of 217 to 213. Why “LIFO?” Because long-uninsured folks who just recently received access to health insurance as an on-ramp to health care services could lose this benefit, just months after joining the ranks of the insured. Among

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Most Physicians Say Patients, Doctors and Hospitals Are All Losers Under Trump

“Overall, Council members express pessimism about the health are landscape in the wake of the Trump administration’s proposed plans, citing no clear winners, only losers: patients, clinicians, and provider organizations.” This is the summary of the Leadership Survey report, Anticipating the Trump Administration’s Impact on Health Care, developed by the New England Journal of Medicine‘s NEJM Group. The first chart illustrates the “biggest healthcare losers” finding, detailed on the bottom three bars of patients, clinicians, and provider organizations. The stakeholders that will fare best under a President Trump healthcare agenda would be drug companies, payers, and employers. The biggest loser

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The Power of Joy in Health and Medicine – Learning From Dr. Regina Benjamin

Former Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin was the first person who quoted to me, “Health isn’t in the doctor’s office. It’s where people live, work, play and pray,” imparting that transformational mantra to me in her 2011 interview with the Los Angeles Times. I wrote about that lightbulb moment here in Health Populi. Dr. Benjamin was the 18th Surgeon General, appointed by President Obama in 2009. As “America’s Doctor,” she served a four-year term, her mission focused on health disparities, prevention, rual health, and children’s health. Today, Dr. Benjamin wears many hats: she’s the Times Picayune/NOLA.com professor of medicine at

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Health Care Costs Are A Top Worry for Americans Across Political Parties

Health care costs are out-of-reach for more Americans, among both people who have insurance through the workplace or via health insurance exchanges. The first chart illustrates the growing healthcare affordability challenge for American health consumers, discussed in a data note to the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll in March 2017. In 2017, 43% of consumers found it difficult to meet the health care deductible before insurance would kick in 37% of consumers found it difficult to pay for the cost of health insurance each month 31% said it was difficult to pay for copayments for doctor visits and prescription drugs.

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Most Americans Favor Some Flavor Of National Health Care Plan

Most US adults favor some kind of national health care plan, based on an Economist/YouGov poll conducted in April 2017. Six in ten people are for expanding so-called “Medicare for All,” where the health plan that currently serves older Americans would extend to all U.S. health citizens. Six in ten people would also favor a Federally-funded health insurance system that would cover all Americans — that is, universal health care. The table details this poll question by political party identification and family income. At least 3 in 4 Democrats would be more likely to favor either of the two healthcare

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Valuing Children = Valuing Health: Learning From Florence, Italy

This week I celebrate two spring holy holidays in one city that embraces spirituality, civility, and culture: Florence, Italy. Today, I had the special opportunity to tour Ospedale degli Innocenti: the Hospital of the Innocents. The hospital is now an institute for studying the culture and economics of children, and a museum telling a unique story of Florentine babies born in the early 15th century, spanning our contemporary era. The founding and root history of this beautiful place has lessons to teach us even today. It is key to realize, first, that Florentine humanism exalted the ideal virtues of the

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Health Inequity in the United States – A View From Across the Pond

The statistics on the health of people living in America illustrate a divide between have’s and have-not’s. Average life expectancy is lower in the US compared with other wealthy nations: the wealthiest Americans live 10 to 15 years longer than the poorest, according to a landmark article in JAMA from 2016 studying the relationship between income inequality and mortality. See the first chart: this illustrates that people living in the US whose income reaches the top 95th percentile far outlive folks in the bottom 5th percentile of income. I find myself in London, England, this week, across the Pond (that is,

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A New Risk Factor For Mental Health: Climate Change

We make our health across many dimensions: via nutrition, safe physical/built environments, financial wellness, education, and the environment among them. In this last category, the environment, new research finds that climate change has a significant impact on health. The report, Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance, was sponsored by the American Psychological Association in conjunction with Climate for Health and ecoAmerica. “Climate change-induced severe weather and other natural disasters have the most immediate effects on mental health in the form of the trauma and shock due to personal injuries, loss of a loved one, damage to

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States That Expanded Medicaid Improved Healthcare Access & Patient Outcomes

States that expanded Medicaid since the start of the Affordable Care Act made greater health system access improvements than those States that did not expand Medicaid, according to Aiming Higher: Results from the Commonwealth Fund Scorecard on State Health System Performance. There’s good news and bad news in this report: on the upside, nearly all states saw health improvements between 2013 and 2015, and in particular, for treatment quality and patient safety. Patient re-admissions to hospitals also fell in many states. But on the downside, premature deaths increased in nearly two-thirds of states, a reversal in the (improving) national mortality

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Americans Are Not Sold On the American Health Care Act

Most Americans do not believe that TrumpCare, the GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (the ACA, aka  ObamaCare), will make things better for U.S. health citizens when it comes to peoples’ health insurance coverage, the premium costs charged for those health plans, and protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. The March 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll examined U.S. adults’ initial perceptions of AHCA, the American Health Care Act, which is the GOP’s replacement plan for the ACA. There are deep partisan differences in perceptions about TrumpCare, with more Republicans favorable to the plan — although not

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The Healthcare Reform Issue Americans Agree On: Lowering Rx Costs

Yesterday, the Tweeter-in-Chief President Donald Trump tweeted, “I am working on a new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry. Pricing for the American people will come way down!” Those 140 characters sent pharma stocks tumbling, as illustrated by the chart for Mylan shares dated 7 March 2017. This is one issue that Americans across the political spectrum agree on with the POTUS. The latest Zogby poll into this issue, conducted for Prescription Justice, found 3 in 4 Americans agree that pharmaceutical companies are “getting away with murder,” as President Trump said in a TIME magazine interview

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Stress Is A Social Determinant of Health – Money and Politics Top the List in 2017

The American Psychological Association reports that Americans are experiencing greater levels of stress in 2017 for the first time since initiating the Stress in America Survey ten years ago in 2007. This is a statistically significant finding, APA calculated. The member psychologists of the American Psychological Association (APA) began to report that patients were coming to appointments increasingly anxious about the 2016 Presidential election. So the APA polled U.S. adults on politics for the first time in ten years of conducting the Stress in America survey. Two-thirds of Americans are stressed and/or anxious about the future of the nation, and

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Will Republican Healthcare Policy “Make America Sick Again?” Two New Polls Show Growing Support for ACA

Results of two polls published in the past week, from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Pew Research Center, demonstrate growing support for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Future Directions for the ACA and Medicaid was published 24 February 2017. The first line chart illustrates the results, with the blue line for consumers’ “favorable view” on the ACA crossing several points above the “unfavorable” orange line for the first time since the law was signed in 2010. The margins in February 2017 were 48% favorable, 42% unfavorable. While the majority of Republicans continue to be solidly

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Marketing Medicines: Going Boldly and Accessibly for Rx

Over the past two weeks, we see two marketing campaigns emerge to market medicines: first, from the branded pharmaceutical association PhRMA, the #GoBoldly initiative with a theme of innovation and personalized medicine. Second, there’s a campaign from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA), rebranding the organization as the Association for Accessible Medicines with the tagline, “keep medicines in reach.” What’s this all about? To put these marketing initiatives in context, let’s start with the publication of Express Scripts 2016 Drug Trend Report. “Drug trend” is short-hand for growth in prescription drug spending, year on year. The first graph illustrates the price index

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Health Care Worries Top Terrorism, By Far, In Americans’ Minds

Health care is the top concern of American families, according to a Monmouth University Poll conducted in the week prior to Donald Trump’s Presidential inauguration. Among U.S. consumers’ top ten worries, eight in ten directly point to financial concerns — with health care costs at the top of the worry-list for 25% of people. Health care financial worries led the second place concern, job security and unemployment, by a large margin (11 percentage points) In third place was “everyday bills,” the top concern for 12% of U.S. adults. Immigration was the top worry for only 3% of U.S. adults; terrorism and

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Health Care Costs, Not the ACA, Rank #1 in Americans’ Minds As President Trump Assumes the Presidency

More Americans are worried about their out-of-pocket health care costs than they are about repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health Tracking Poll published 6th January 2017, the first KFF poll for the new year. Cost worries fall into two buckets of concerns: the cost of health care, and the cost of prescription drugs. Managing the opioid epidemic falls in third place after health care costs. Repealing the Affordable Care Act? It’s #4 on Americans’ health care priorities as of mid-December 2016, followed by shrinking the Federal’s government’s role in and spending on

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Nursing Is Seen As The Most Ethical Profession in America; Congress Members, Least

Nurses rank, by far, the top profession for honest and ethics in the U.S. in the 2016 version of the annual Gallup poll on ethics in professions, Americans Rate Healthcare Providers High on Honest, Ethics, published this week. Since 1999, nurses have been #1 in this survey except for the year 2001, when firefighters scored the top spot in light of the 9/11 attack. Another consistency in this survey among U.S. consumers is that pharmacists and physicians top the list once again, after nurses, and the most-trusted professions in America. At the bottom of the roster, as in 2015, are Members

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The Shift to Healthcare Value in a Post-Trump America, via PwC

In President Donald Trump’s preliminary thoughts about health care in America, the landscape would feature a mix of tax credits, health savings accounts, high-risk pool, state Medicaid block grants, and regulatory control shifting from the Federal government to the states, according to PwC’s forecast for the new year, Top health industry issues of 2017. PwC frames the 2017 top healthcare issues under the overall strategic imperative of value, with three categories: Adapting for value Innovating for value Building for value. The ten top issues that will shape U.S. healthcare for the next year, PwC expects, will be: An uncertain fate for the

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U.S. Healthcare Spending Hit Nearly $10,000 A Person In 2015

Spending on health care in the U.S. hit $3.2 trillion in 2015, increasing 5.8% from 2014. This works out to $9,990 per person in the U.S., and nearly 18% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Factors that drove such significant spending growth included increases in private health insurance coverage owing to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage (7.2%), and spending on physician services (7.2%) and hospital care (5.6%). Prescription drug spending grew by 9% between 2014 and 2015 (a topic which I’ll cover in tomorrow’s Health Populi discussing IMS Institute’s latest report into global medicines spending). The topic of

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1 in 3 Americans Still Self-Rations Healthcare

People in the U.S. are much more likely to go without health care they need compared with health citizens in 10 other wealthy countries, according to the Commonwealth Fund’s 2016 international survey. One-third of Americans did not seek care due to costs, including going without recommended care, failing to fill a prescription drug, and/or not seeing a doctor when sick. While this self-rationing proportion of Americans dropped from 37% in 2013, the U.S. still ranks #1 in foregoing necessary healthcare due to cost. “In comparison to adults in the other 10 countries, adult sin the U.S. are sicker and more

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

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

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Growing Sentiment for a Single Payer Healthcare System in the U.S.

There is growing support for a single payer healthcare system in America, found in the latest Gallup Poll and a survey the organization conducted earlier this year in May 2016. A slight majority of Americans favor a single payer system, shown in the first chart. By political party, that splits into 3 in 4 Democrats pro-single payer, and 4 in 10 Republicans (41%). Note that the 41% of Republicans who favor single payer is a much higher number than the 16% who favor keeping the Affordable Care Act in place. Gallup writes, “The general idea of a single payer system seems to

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In #Election2016, Americans Care More About the Cost of Prescription Drugs Than the ACA

“When thinking about health care priorities for the next president and Congress to address, dealing with the high price of prescription drugs tops the public’s list while issues specific to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such as repealing provisions of the law or repealing the law entirely, are viewed as top priorities by fewer Americans,” according to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll for October 2016 – the last such survey to be taken before the 2016 Presidential election. The poster child snapshot image representing the high cost of prescription drugs is the increase in cost for an EpiPen, which among

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Stress and Health During #Election2016

The American Psychological Association, which conducts the annual Stress in America survey, has found rising levels of stress during #Election2016. 1 in 2 U.S. adults says the U.S. presidential election is a source of stress, with Democrats and Republicans equally likely to feel this way. So the APA is offering tips on how we can deal with the health impacts of election season stress. These include: Take a digital break and limiting your media consumption, reading or listening to “just enough to stay informed.” Instead, go for a walk and do things you enjoy. Avoid getting into and limit discussions about the

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Costs of Care and the ACA Top Voters’ Healthcare Issues

Two in three US voters put the future of the Affordable Care Act as the #1 healthcare issue in the 2016 President election. The ACA is closely followed by healthcare costs — for insurance premiums, deductibles, and prescription drugs, according to the September 2016 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. The opioid addiction and mortality epidemic is a top healthcare issue for 43% of US voters, and the Zika virus, among 26% of voters. Note that more supporters of Hillary Clinton are healthcare-oriented voters than people who favor Donald Trump. Uninsurance and costs, in addition to the future of the ACA, rank

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More Americans See Hillary Clinton As the 2016 Presidential Health Care Candidate

When it comes to health care, more American voters trust Hillary Clinton to deal with health issues than Donald Trump, according to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: August 2016 from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The poll covered the Presidential election, the Zika virus, and consumers’ views on the value of and access to personal health information via electronic health records. Today’s Health Populi post will cover the political dimensions of the August 2016 KFF poll; in tomorrow’s post, I will address the health information issues. First, let’s address the political lens of the poll. More voters trust Hillary Clinton to do

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The Average Monthly Health Plan Premium in the U.S. Hit $885 in 2016

  Three years after the launch of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the big picture of employer-sponsored health benefits in the U.S. show stability, with modest changes in costs being kept in check by a growing younger workforce, according to the 2016 ADP Annual Health Benefits Report. Roughly 9 in 10 employees in large companies are eligible to participate in health insurance plans at the workplace, with two-thirds of people participating, shown in the chart. Younger people, under 26 years of age, have much lower participation rates than those over 26, with many staying on their parents’ plans (taking advantage of

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Health Care Reform: President Obama Pens Progress in JAMA

“Take Governor John Kasich’s explanation for expanding Medicaid: ‘For those that live in the shadows of life, those who are the least among us, I will not accept the fact that the most vulnerable in our state should be ignored. We can help them.’” So quotes President Barack Obama in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, in today’s online issue. #POTUS penned, United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps. The author is named as “Barack Obama, JD,” a nod to the President’s legal credentials. Governor Kasich, a Republican, was one of 31 Governors who

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Most Americans Favor A Federally-Funded Health System

6 in 10 people in the US would like to replace the Affordable Care Act with a national health insurance program for all Americans, according to a Gallup Poll conducted on the phone in May 2016 among 1,549 U.S. adults. By political party, RE: Launch a Federal/national health insurance plan (“healthcare a la Bernie Sanders”): Among Democrats, 73% favor the Federal/national health insurance plan, and only 22% oppose it; 41% of Republicans favor it and 55% oppose it. RE: Repeal the ACA (“healthcare a la Donald Trump”): Among Democrats, 25% say scrap the ACA, and 80% of Republicans say to do

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51% of Americans Say It’s Government’s Responsibility To Provide Health Insurance

For the first time since 2008, a majority of Americans say government is responsible for ensuring that people have health insurance. The first chart shows the crossing lines between those who see government-assured health insurance in the rising dark green line in 2015, and people who see it as a private sector responsibility. The demographics and sentiments underneath the 51% are important to parse out: people who approve of the Affordable Care Act are over 3x more likely to believe in government sponsoring health insurance versus those who disapprove, 80% compared with 26%. The demographic differences are also striking, detailed

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Health Care Costs Are #1 Pocketbook Issue, and Drug Prices Top the Line Items

Consumers are most concerned about health care costs among their kitchen table issues, above their ability to afford the utility bill, housing, food, or gas and transportation costs. The October 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll finds 4 in 10 Americans finding it difficult to afford health care, including 16% of people earning $90,000 a year or more. Underneath that worrying healthcare cost umbrella are the price of prescription drugs, which the majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all agree need to be “limited” by government regulation. Ensuring that the public have affordable access to high-cost drugs for chronic conditions

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Health Politics – Learning From History in Art from the Reagan/AIDS Era

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 24 July 2015 in Art and health, FDA, Health costs, Health politics, HIV/AIDS

The high cost of specialty drugs, opaque information on risks of many existing prescription drugs, and lack of cures for diseases impacting millions of people are forces driving patients into activism, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the emergence of AIDS. I was reminded this yesterday, not inside the Beltway at an FDA or Congressional hearing, or in an online social network of patient activists. I was visiting the newly re-opened and re-built Whitney Museum, an architectural gem now re-energizing the Meatpacking District in Lower Manhattan. It wasn’t the building design (which is getting rave reviews from architecture

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What the SCOTUS ACA ruling means for health consumers

Now that the Affordable Care Act is settled, in the eyes of the U.S. Supreme Court, what does the 6-3 ruling mean for health/care consumers living in America? I wrote the response to that question on the site of Intuit’s American Tax & Financial Center here. The top-line is that people living in Michigan, where the Federal government is running the health insurance exchange for Michiganders, and people living in New York, where the state is running the exchange, are considered equal under the ACA’s health insurance premium subsidies: health plan shoppers, whether resident New Yorkers or Michiganders, can qualify for

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Most Americans say drug prices are unreasonable and blame company profits

Three-quarters of U.S. adults say the cost of prescription drugs are unreasonable, and blame high medication prices set by profitable pharmaceutical companies according to the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll for June 2015. Profits made by drug companies are the #1 reason Americans cite among major factors that contribute to the price of prescription drugs (among 77% of people), followed by the cost of medical research (64%), the cost of marketing and advertising (54%), and the cost of lawsuits (49%). Regardless of the cost, 71% of people say that health insurance should “always” pay for high-cost drugs. At the same

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How Growing Income Inequality Hurts Everyone, and Especially Our Health

Income inequality has increased in most developed countries, and especially in the U.S., according to the OECD’s report, In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All, published in May 2015. The red arrow in the first chart shows where the U.S. ranks versus other developed nations in income inequality, which is defined as the wealth gap between rich and poor people. The U.S. has the greatest income inequality in the developed world. The second chart shows data for the U.S. on benefits provided to low-wage workers (the bottom 25% of wage earners) versus high-wage workers (the top 25% of earners).

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Hillary and George at HIMSS15

  George Bush was the keynote speaker yesterday at HIMSS in Chicago at McCormick Place. As expected and appropriate, the Secret Service detail was at-the-ready to ensure the President’s safety and security.  In the morning, members of the press were told by HIMSS’s communications staff that we would be able to watch the speech, live streamed, in the press room, able to cover the event in detail: words have meaning, and many of us were keen to hear how this President, who ushered in the early era of electronic health records, viewed healthcare and information technology then, and now. A fascinating

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The Affordable Care Act As New-Business Creator

While there’s little evidence that the short-term impact of the Affordable Care Act has limited job growth or driven most employers to drop health insurance plans, the ACA has spawned a “cottage industry” of health companies since 2010, according to PwC. As the ACA turned five years of age, the PwC Health Research Institute led by Ceci Connolly identified at least 90 newcos addressing opportunities inspired by the ACA: Supporting telehealth platforms between patients and providers, such as Vivre Health Educating consumers, such as the transparency provider HealthSparq does Streamlining operations to enhance efficiency, the business of Cureate among others

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Value is in the eye of the shopper for health insurance

While shopping is a life sport, and even therapeutic for some, there’s one product that’s not universally attracting shoppers: health insurance. McKinsey’s Center for U.S. Health System Reform studied people who were qualified to go health insurance shopping for plans in 2015, covered by the Affordable Care Act. McKinsey’s consumer research identified six segments of health insurance plan shoppers — and non-shoppers — including 4 cohorts of insured and 2 of uninsured people. The insureds include: Newly-insured people, who didn’t enroll in health plans in 2014 but did so in 2015 Renewers, who purchased health insurance in both 2014 and

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A health agenda comes to the 2015 Oscars

The 87th annual 2015 Oscars show (#Oscars15) feted more than the movie industry: the event celebrated health in both explicit and subtle ways. Julianne Moore took the golden statuette for Best Actress, playing the title role in Still Alice, the story a woman diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. In accepting her award, Moore spoke of the need to recognize and “see” people with Alzheimer’s – so many people feel isolated and marginalized, Moore explained. Movies help us feel seen and not alone – and people with Alzheimer’s need to be seen so we can find a cure, she asserted. See Moore’s lovely

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Health Care in the 2014 Mid-Term Election

In the November 2014 mid-term elections, Democrats tend to favor continuing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as-is, and Republicans favor scrapping it, scaling it back, or fully replacing the law with something yet to be defined. But it’s hard to read just where the ACA will end up after tomorrow’s election, because many key battleground states are too close to call…and the two major parties have such polar views on health reform. What’s most significant this year is that those most likely to vote are less likely to vote for a congressional candidate who supports the ACA (40%) than would

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Affordable medicine: a preferred future

The price of medicines is a barrier for about one billion people on the planet, for citizens in developing countries as well as middle-class families in the richest country in the world, the United States.  Today is World Health Day, when for 24 hours public health advocates (including me) are calling out key issues preventing people from fully living life. One obstacle for too many people is the cost of drugs and supplies that save lives and help people add life to years. For example, bug bites can be deadly if you’re talking about the 50% of the world’s population

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Health consumers building up the U.S. economy

U.S. consumer spending on health care is boosting the nation’s economy, based on some new data points. First, health care spending grew at an annual rate of 5.6% at the end of 2013, USA Today reported. This was the fastest-growth seen in ten years, reversing the fall of health spending experienced in the wake of America’s Great Recession of 2008. Furthermore the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) anticipates health spending to grow by 6.1% in 2014 with the influx of newly-insured health plan members. Healthcare was responsible for one-fourth of America’s GDP growth rate of 2.6%, which is

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Hillary Clinton wows the HIMSS14 crowd

  At last year’s annual HIMSS conference, I had the pleasure of experiencing Bill Clinton’s keynote speech in New Orleans, which I wrote about here. As a long-time member of HIMSS, this was a great moment in my many years attending HIMSS conferences. Another special moment in HIMSS conference history happened today, as, I had the honor of attending Hillary Clinton’s keynote speech at HIMSS 2014 in Orlando today. I am blessed with fast-typing fingers thanks to my mother’s genes, and took constant notes during Hillary’s talk. My favorite paragraphs are quoted below, indicating “Applause” pauses where Hillary was lauded.

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Health care and costs on front-burner for people in America (again)

This week in America, the concept of “health care consumer” is in a tug-of-war, and those of us trying to behave as such feel bloodied in the skirmish. One side of the tug-of-war is the obvious, post October 1st reality of the sad state of the Health Insurance Exchanges. This has been well covered in mass media, right, left and center. And Americans polled by Gallup last week express their knowledge of that fact — even if they didn’t know what Healthcare.gov was on the 1st of October. The first chart shows that health care is now a front-burner issue

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U.S. Health Citizens Needed a Dummies Guide to the ACA

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed in March 2010; that month, 57% of U.S. adults did something to self-ration health care, such as splitting prescription pills, postponing necessary health care, and putting off recommended medical tests, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health Tracking Poll of March 2010. 57% of U.S. adults are still self-rationing health care in September 2013, according to KFF’s latest Health Tracking Poll, completed among 1,503 U.S. adults just two weeks before the launch of the Health Insurance Marketplaces on October 1, 2013. As of September 2013, only 19% of U.S. adults said they had heard

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Criticizing health reform has jumped the shark for mainstream Americans

You might see potato and I might see po-tah-to when looking at the Affordable Care Act – health reform — but it’s clear we don’t want to call the whole thing off. (Go to 1:44 seconds in this video to get my drift, thanks to the Gershwin’s). I’m talking about the latest August 2013 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll from Kaiser Family Foundation finds a health citizenry suffering ennui or a form of split personality about health reform: while many Americans don’t believe the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will help them, most don’t want Congress to de-fund it, either. Several graphs from

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Chief Health Officers, Women, Are In Pain

Women are the Chief Health Officers of their families and in their communities. But stress is on the rise for women. Taking an inventory on several health risks for American women in 2013 paints a picture of pain: of overdosing, caregiver burnout, health disparities, financial stress, and over-drinking. Overdosing on opioids. Opioids are strong drugs prescribed for pain management such as hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. The number of opioid prescriptions grew in the U.S. by over 300% between 1999 and 2010. Deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses among women have increased more than 400% since 1999, compared to 265% among men.

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10 Reasons Why ObamaCare is Good for US

When Secretary Sebelius calls, I listen. It’s a sort of “Help Wanted” ad from the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius that prompted me to write this post. The Secretary called for female bloggers to talk about the benefits of The Affordable Care Act last week when she spoke in Chicago at the BlogHer conference. Secretary Sebelius’s request was discussed in this story from the Associated Press published July 25, 2013. “I bet you more people could tell you the name of the new prince of England than could tell you that the health market opens October 1st,” the

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In the US health care cost game, doctors have seen the enemy – and it’s not them

When it comes to who’s most responsible for reducing the cost of health care in America, most doctors put the onus on trial lawyers, health insurance companies, pharma and medical device manufacturers, hospitals, and even patients. But physicians themselves ? Not so much responsibility – only 36% of doctors polled said doctors should assume major responsibility in reducing health care costs. And, in particular, most U.S. physicians have no enthusiasm for reducing health care costs by changing payment models, like penalizing providers for hospital re-admissions or paying a group of doctors a fixed, bundled price for managing population health. Limiting

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The promise of ObamaCare isn’t comforting Americans worrying about money and health in 2013

In June 2013, even though news about the economy and jobs is more positive and ObamaCare’s promise of health insurance for the uninsured will soon kick in, most Americans are concerned about (1) money and (2) the costs of health care. The Kaiser Health Tracking poll of June 2013 paints an America worried about personal finances and health, and pretty clueless about health reform – in particular, the advent of health insurance exchanges. Among the 25% of people who have seen media coverage about the Affordable Care Act (alternatively referred to broadly as “health reform” or specifically as “ObamaCare”), 3

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Bending the cost-curve: a proposal from some Old School bipartisans

Strange political bedfellows have come together to draft a formula for dealing with spiraling health care costs in the U.S. iin A Bipartisan Rx for Patient-Centered Care and System-Wide Cost Containment from the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). The BPC was founded by Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell. This report also involved Bill Frist, Pete Domenici, and former White House and Congressional Budget Office Director Dr. Alice Rivlin who together work with the Health Care Cost Containment Initiative at the BPC. The essence of the 132-page report is that the U.S. health system is

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U.S. Health Costs vs. The World: Is It Still The Prices, and Are We Still Stupid?

Comparing health care prices in the U.S. with those in other developed countries is an exercise in sticker shock. The cost of a hospital day in the U.S. was, on average, $4,287 in 2012. It was $853 in France, a nation often lauded for its excellent health system and patient outcomes but with a health system that’s financially strapped. A routine office visit to a doctor cost an average of $95 in the U.S. in 2012. The same visit was priced at $30 in Canada and $30 in France, as well. A hip replacement cost $40,364 on average in the

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The Not-So-Affordable Care Act? Cost-squeezed Americans still confused and need to know more

While health care cost growth has slowed nationally, most Americans feel they’re going up faster than usual. 1 in 3 people believe their own health costs have gone up faster than usual, and 1 in 4 feel they’re going out about “the same amount” as usual. For only one-third, health costs feel like they’re staying even. As the second quarter of 2013 begins and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka “health reform” and “Obamacare”) looms nearer, most Americans still don’t understand how the ACA will impact them. Most Americans (57%) believe the law will create a government-run health plan,

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Bill Clinton’s public health, cost-bending message thrills health IT folks at HIMSS

In 2010, the folks who supported health care reform were massacred by the polls, Bill Clinton told a rapt audience of thousands at HIMSS13 yesterday. In 2012, the folks who were against health care reform were similarly rejected. President Clinton gave the keynote speech at the annual HIMSS conference on March 6, 2013, and by the spillover, standing-room-only crowd in the largest hall at the New Orleans Convention Center, Clinton was a rock star. Proof: with still nearly an hour to go before his 1 pm speech, the auditorium was already full with only a few seats left in the

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Required reading: TIME Magazine’s Bitter Pill Cover Story

Today’s Health Populi is devoted to Steven Brill and his colleagues at TIME magazine whose special report, Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us, is required reading for every health citizen in the United States. Among many lightbulb moments for readers, key findings from the piece are: Local hospitals are beloved charities to people who live in their market – Brill calls these institutions “Non-Profit Profitmakers). They’re the single most politically powerful player in most Congressional districts The poor and less affluent more often pay the high chargemaster (“retail list”) price for health products and services vs. the wealthy

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Living paycheck to paycheck: what it means for health

While 50% of Americans feel they have a sound financial position, the other half is living paycheck to paycheck. 8% say they can’t even pay for essentials. The second annual Allstate “Life Tracks” Poll finds American adults split between have’s and have not’s, with even the “have’s” feeling less than financially literate. There is an equal split between people who feel they’re in an “excellent” or “good” financial position compared with those who feel they’re in financially “fair” or “poor” shape. Men feel more financially secure than women; 3 in 4 single parents feel less well-off compared to the average

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Health reform, costs and the growing role of consumers: PwC’s tea leaves for 2013

PwC has seen the future of health care for the next year, and the crystal ball expects to see the following: Affordable Care Act implementation, with states playing lead roles The role of dual eligibles Employer’s role in health care benefits Consumers’ role in coverage Consumers’ ratings impact on health care Transforming health delivery Population health management Bring your own device Pharma’s changing value proposition The medical device industry & tax impact. In their report, Top health industry issues of 2013: picking up the pace on health reform, PwC summarizes these expectations as a “future [that] includes full implementation of

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Think about health disparities on Martin Luther King Day 2013

On this day celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., I post a photo of him in Detroit in 1963, giving a preliminary version of his “I Have a Dream” speech he would give two months later in Washington, DC. As I meditate on MLK, I think about health equity. By now, most rational Americans know the score on the nation’s collective health status compared to other developed countries: suffice it to say, We’re Not #1. But underneath that statistic is a further sad state of health affairs: that people of color in the U.S. have lower quality of health than white

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Americans’ top financial concerns are money for retirement and health care

It’s the morning after the historic 2012 Presidential Election, with President Barack Obama winning a second term in the face of a sputtering economy and eventual Fiscal Cliff as of December 31, 2012. As we toast with our beverage of choice that night, we will also be worrying about our top financial concerns: how we’ll fund our retirements, and how we’ll pay for health care eventually, and now while we’re actively employed. The Harris Poll of November 5, 2012, reveals that 3 in 4 people in the U.S. who aren’t yet retired worry they won’t have enough money to slow

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The 3 cliffs of health care

As I prepare remarks to present a talk about health reform and the pharmaceutical market landscape for tomorrow, Election Day, it struck me that the health industry is now facing 3 Cliffs: the patent cliff, the health care cost cliff, and the Fiscal Cliff. The patent cliff represents about $290 billion worth of sales losses to the pharmaceutical industry between 2012 and 2018. The first chart illustrates that dramatic slope downward, with this year, 2012, being the height of patent losses for the industry. EvaluatePharma, a UK consultancy, says that falling revenue for a pharma is usually a precursor to

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Obama would get health-issue voters’ votes

Bob Blendon and his can-do team at the Harvard School of Public Health have done the heavy lifting for us by analyzing 36 telephone polls (that’s “polls,” not “poles”) looking at the role of health reform in the 2012 election cycle. I knew Bob Blendon when I was affiliated for a decade with Institute for the Future, and Blendon was affiliated as well as health politics consultant to the health team. He is the guru on this topic, so when I spotted his article, Understanding Health Care in the 2012 Election in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, I dashed

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Consumers blame insurance and pharma for health costs, but love their primary care doctors

The 78% of U.S. adults with primary care physicians (think: medical homes) are very satisfied with their doctors’ visits. The main reasons for this high level of satisfaction include communication (listening, talking), customer service (caring, personable), and clinical (good diagnosis and treatment). More women than men have a primary care physician relationship, more college grads do, and more people with incomes of $75,000 a year or more do, as well. 90% of those 55 and over have a primary care doctor – a stat heavily influenced by the fact that Medicare coverage kicks in for older people. This consumer profile

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