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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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From fragmentation and sensors to health care in your pocket – Health 2.0, Day 1

The first day of the Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco kicked off with a video illustrating the global reach of the Health 2.0 concept, from NY and Boston to Mumbai, Madrid, London, Tokyo and other points abroad. Technology is making the health world flatter and smarter…and sometimes, increasing problematic fragmentation, which is a theme that kept pinching me through the first day’s discussions and demonstrations. Joe Flowers, health futurist, offered a cogent, crisp forecast in the morning, noting that health care is changing, undergoing fundamental economic changes that change everything about it. These are driving us to what may

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3 in 5 physicians would quit today if they could

Being a doctor isn’t a happy profession in 2012: 3 in 5 doctors say that, if they could, they’d retire this year. Over three-fourths of physicians are pessimistic about the future of their profession. 84% of doctors feel that the medical profession is in decline. And, over 1 in 3 doctors would choose a different professional if they had it all to do over again. The Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that represents the interests of doctors, sent a survey to 630,000 physicians — every physician in the U.S. that’s registered with the AMA’s Physician Master File — in March-June

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U.S. health insurance updates from Kaiser, EBRI and the Census Bureau; uninsurance related to poor health

The average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2012 are double what they were a decade ago in terms of both total premium and worker contribution increases. The picture shows the story, according to the 2012 Employer Health Benefits Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). This annual survey polls small, mid-size and large employers to assess their updates for providing health insurance and prescription drug coverage to active and retired employees. The percentage growth of health costs in the past year were a “modest” 4%, according to KFF. Modest is a relative term: this single digit increase is indeed much

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Converging for health care: how collaborating is breaking down silos to achieve the Triple Aim

  On Tuesday, 9 July 2012, health industry stakeholders are convening in Philadelphia for the first CONVERGE conference, seeking to ignite conversation across siloed organizations to solve seemingly intractable problems in health care, together. Why “converge?” Because suppliers, providers, payers, health plans, and consumers have been fragmented for far too long based on arcane incentives that cause the U.S. health system to be stuck in a Rube Goldbergian knot of inefficiency, ineffectiveness and fragmentation of access….not to mention cost increases leading us to devote nearly one-fifth of national GDP on health care at a cost of nearly $3 trillion…and going up.

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The selling of a health plan, part two

Calling Don Draper, Donny Deutsch, and the spirit of David Ogilvy: the President needs you. The President must sell the Affordable Care Act to the American people now that Justice Roberts wrote the Supreme Court’s historic 5-4 majority opinion supporting the Act, and especially the individual mandate. He argued for the majority that while the mandate is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause which would “command people to buy insurance,” he said that the mandate is a de facto tax, as people who would choose to opt out of insurance would have an alternative of paying an IRS fine. Senator Eric

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58% of Americans self-rationing health care due to cost

Since the advent of the Great Recession of 2008, more Americans have been splitting pills, postponing needed visits to doctors, skipping dental care, and avoiding recommended medical tests due to the cost of those health care services. Call it health care self-rationing: the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) has been tracking this trend for the past several years, and the proportion of American adults rationing health demand is up to 58%. This KFF Health Tracking Poll interviewed 1,218 U.S. adults age 18 and older via landline and cell phone in May 2012. As the chart illustrates, 38% of people are “DIYing” health care

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A health plan or a car: health insurance for a family of four exceeds $20K in 2012

The saying goes, “you pays your money and you makes your choice.” In 2012, if you have a bolus of $20,700 to spend, you can choose between a health plan for a family of four, or a sedan for the same family. That’s the calculation from the actuaries at Milliman, whose annual Milliman Medical Index is the go-to analysis on health care costs for a family of four covered by a preferred provider organization plan (PPO). While the 6.9% annual average cost increase is lower than the 7.3% in 2011, it is nonetheless, a record $1,335 real dollar increase at

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Improving health care through Big Data: a meeting of the minds at SAS

Some 500 data analytics gurus representing the health care ecosystem including hospitals, physician practices, life science companies, academia and consulting came together on the lush campus of SAS in Cary, North Carolina, this week to discuss how Big Data could solve health care’s Triple Aim, as coined by keynote speaker Dr. Donald Berwick: improve the care experience, improve health outcomes, and reduce costs. Before Dr. Berwick, appointed as President Obama’s first head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School, godfather of the theory of disruptive innovation in business, spokee about his journey

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It’s the prices and the technology, stupid: why U.S. health costs are higher than anywhere in the world

The price of physician services, proliferation of clinical technology and the cost of obesity are the key drivers of higher health spending in the U.S., according to The Commonwealth Fund‘s latest analysis in their Issues of International Health Policy titled, Explaining High Health Care Spending in the United States: An International Comparison of Supply, Utilization, Prices, and Quality, published in May 2012. The U.S. devotes 17.4% of the national economy to health spending, amounting to about $8,000 per person. The UK devotes about 10%, Germany 11.6%, France, 11.8%, Australia 8.7%, and Japan, 8.5%. On the physician pay front, primary care

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Patient engagement and medical homes – core drivers of a high-performing health system

It was Dr. Charles Safran who said, “Patients are the most under-utilized resource in the U.S. health system,” which he testified to Congress in 2004. Seven years later, patients are still under-utilized, not just in the U.S. but around the world. Yet, “when patients have an active role in their own health care, the quality of their care, and of their care experience improves,” assert researchers from The Commonwealth Fund in their analysis of 2011 global health consumer survey data published in the April/June 2010 issue of the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management. This analysis is summarized in International Perspectives on

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Public health is valued by Americans, but health citizens balance personal responsibility with a Nanny State

While most Americans largely believe in motorcycle helmet laws, seatbelt-wearing mandates, and regulations to reduce sale in packaged foods, most are also concerned about the nation turning into the United States of Nanny. The Harris Interactive/Health Day poll of March 20, 2012, finds a health citizenry “pro” most public and safety regulations, from banning texting while driving to requiring the HPV vaccination (e.g., Gardasil). Specifically, as the chart shows, – 91% of U.S. adults are for banning texting while driving – 86% are for requiring vaccination of young children against mumps, measles, and other diseases – 86% also like to

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The state of health IT in America: thinking about the Bipartisan Policy Center report on health IT

There are few issue areas within the Beltway of Washington, DC, that have enjoyed more support across the political aisle than health care information technology. In 2004, George Bush asserted that every American would/should have an electronic medical record by 2014. Since then, Democrats and Republicans alike have supported the broad concept of wiring the U.S. health information infrastructure. With the injection of ARRA stimulus funds earmarked in the HITECH Act to promote health providers’ adoption of electronic health records, we’re now on the road to Americans getting access to their health information electronically. It won’t be all or even

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The Trust Deficit – what does it mean for health care?

Technology, autos, food and consumer products — two-thirds of people around the globe trust these four industries the most. The least trusted sectors are media, banks and financial services. Welcome to the twelfth annual poll of the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, gauging global citizens’ perspectives on institutions and their trustworthiness. This survey marks the largest decline in trust in government in the 12 years the Barometer has polled peoples’ views. Interestingly, trust in government among US citizens stayed stable. The top-line finds a huge drop in global citizens’ trust in government, with a smaller decline for business. There’s an interplay

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Stop SOPA

    Health Populi’s Hot Points: Please stop censorship in the United States of America. Click on this hyperlink to easily contact your Congressional representatives and express your opinion on SOPA and PIPA – two laws that would limit basic freedom in the marketplace of ideas and commerce.

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Health spending in America – self-rationing slows cost increases

The Big Headline under the banner of Health Economics this week is the statistic that growth in U.S. national health spending slowed to an anemic 3.9%  in 2010 — the slowest rate of growth in the 51-year history of keeping the National Health Expenditure Accounts.   Before American policymakers, providers, plans and suppliers pat themselves on their collective back on a job well-done, the heavy-lifting behind this story was largely undertaken by health consumers themselves in the form of facing greater co-pays, premiums and prices for health services — and as a result, self-rationing off health care services and utilization, which

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Health insurance: employers still in the game, but what about patient health engagement?

U.S. employers’ health insurance-response to the nation’s economic downturn has been to shift health costs to employees. This has been especially true in smaller companies that pay lower wages. As employers look to the implementation of health reform in 2014, their responses will be based on local labor market and economic conditions. Thus, it’s important to understand the nuances of the paradigm, “all health care is local,” taking a page from Tip O’Neill’s old saw, “all politics is local.” The Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) visited 12 communities to learn more about their local health systems and economies, publishing their

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The average annual health costs for a U.S. family of four approach $20,000, with employees bearing 40%

Health care costs have doubled in less than nine years for the typical American family of four covered by a preferred provider health plan (PPO). In 2011, that health cost is nearly $20,000; in 2002, it was $9,235, as measured by the 2011 Milliman Medical Index (MMI). To put this in context, The 2011 poverty level for a family of 4 in the 48 contiguous U.S. states is $22,350 The car buyer could purchase a Mini-Cooper with $20,000 The investor could invest $20K to yield $265,353 at a 9% return-on-investment. The MMI increased 7.3% between 2010 and 2011, about the same

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Even the most wealthy, healthy U.S. citizens worry about future health access and finance

It is no surprise that sicker, poorer people in the U.S. have concerns about how they’ll access and pay for health care in the future. What stands out in the latest Commonwealth Fund Survey of Public Views of the U.S. Health System, published in an April 11, 2011, Issue Brief, is that most U.S. health citizens in the healthiest, wealthiest demographic groups worry about accessing and paying for health care in the future. The chart highlights these findings: overall, 7 in 10 people worry about not getting high-quality care when they will need it, or that they won’t be able to pay

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Robert Reich connects the dots between the macroeconomy, angst, politics and health care costs

“I’m not a class warrior. I’m a class worrier,” Robert Reich told a standing-room only crowd of thousands of health IT geeks as he delivered the first keynote address of the annual meeting of HIMSS, the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society. This year’s crowd will have reached about 31,000 people interested in health information technology’s transformative role in health care. The 31K represents an 18% increase in attendance from last year’s crowd. The HIMSS economy is strong. Robert Reich warns, however, that the U.S. macroeconomy is far from healthy…and health care costs will be a long-term threat to the

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How health price sticker shock can prevent preventive care – the case of my colonoscopy

An Explanation of Benefits (EOB) came in the U.S. mail yesterday. A plain piece of white 8.5″ x 11″ printed in tiny font with black ink, the logo of my health insurance company in the upper left of the form, and several lines of words and numbers showing me names of providers and facilities, dollar amounts billed, dollar amounts discounted, dollar amounts paid to the providers, and dollar amounts that were the patient’s responsibility — that would be me. The procedure was for a colonoscopy, for preventive screening and base lining for future reference. The good news: my colon looks just fine, and I’ll be reminded

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U.S. employers put health care cost containment at the top of reform priorities

1 in 5 among all U.S. employers (22%) would likely drop health insurance coverage and let workers buy a plan through a health insurance exchange. However, most employers would expand wellness programs driven by incentives in health reform. Employers’ perspectives on the Affordable Care Act/health reform are mixed, according to a survey conducted by the Midwest Business Group on Health, co-sponsored by the National Business Coalition on Health, Business Insurance and Workforce Management. Not surprisingly, these views vary by whether the firm is large (>500 employees) or small. More large employers support the creation of Health Insurance Exchanges and would expand wellness services;

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The States’ fiscal crisis and health care: a day of reckoning for Medicaid before 2014?

It will be A Day of Reckoning, 60 Minutes, the CBS News weekly program, called it. This is the impending economic collapse of U.S. state economies, caused by over-borrowing, pension accounting, lower tax revenues during the recession, expanding services, and Next to the housing collapse of the past few years, this may be the largest threat to the American economy, according to Meredith Whitney, a Wall Street analyst quoted in the story. Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, says this is, “not an income problem, it’s a benefit problem.” When we think benefits and States, we think health care — specifically,

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Are Influentials less keen on connecting health? Practice Fusion says ‘yes’

I posted here yesterday on Practice Fusion‘s survey on consumers’ views of remote health monitoring, discussing a key finding that older Americans are less keen on the idea than younger people. The company sent me more detailed survey data which I’ve dug into, and discovered a counter-intuitive finding worth exploring: “Influential” people appear less interested in remote health monitoring than the mainstream American. Who are these “Influentials?” GfK Roper, who conducted the study on behalf of Practice Fusion, bases this consumer segment on an index built on political and social activities engaged in over the past year: writing a letter to

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Impeaching health reform: reflections on the night before 2010 mid-term election results

By Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on 2 November 2010 in Global Health, Health Economics, Health politics, Health reform

I find myself in London, England, on November 2, 2010, for a week of business in two European nations that extend universal health care to their citizens: the UK and Denmark. The Hill’s Healthwatch blog writes today that, “House Republicans will bring early vote on repeal of health reform.” Haley Barbour, head of the Republican Governors Association, exclaimed, “I think if [Republicans] don’t fully repeal and replace it, they will make such big changes in it over the next three years that you won’t recognize it.” Here in the UK, the Guardian newspaper published a column opining that, “At a macro level,

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Is health care a blue or a red brand?

Google is heavily favored by Democrats; Fox News Channel, no surprise, by Republicans. Citizens affiliated with a particular political party favor certain consumer brands, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex survey.  For Democrats (the blue folks), favored brands include Sony and Amazon. For Republicans (the red voters), top brands include the History Channel, Fox, and Lowe’s. The Google vs. Fox News Channel rift between the parties is huge: 66% of Democrats rank Google on top; 71% of Republicans rank Fox News #1. Google doesn’t even fall into the Republicans’ top ten brand names, according to Advertising Age. There’s some crossover in brand-loving across the two

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