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My ABCovid-19 Journal, Day 2 – Letters “F” through “J”

Welcome to Day 2 of my #COVID19 holiday break, welcome to my ABCovid Journal, letters “F” through “J. If you hadn’t tuned into the Health Populi blog yesterday, 10th August 2020, you missed the first five letters of my Age of Corona alphabet, curated in my art journal created in the early weeks of the pandemic. Click the link to back-track and catch up with us… I should explain why I’m sharing this project in the Health Populi blog this week. Last month, long-time colleague and friend Colin Hung interviewed me on the #HITMC broadcast to discuss a lovely recognition

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My ABCovid-19 Journal – Day 1 of 5, A through E

My friends… It’s time in this pandemic journey that I take a full week to re-charge and bask in the midst of nature, a lake, farm-to-table food, wine-making, and the love of and therapeutic time with my wonderful husband. My gift to you all this week, 10th – 14th August, is to share with you pages from my “ABCovid-19 Journal” that I created/curated in the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. We all have our hacks for managing stress and discomfort, and in the first weeks of COVID-19, this was my life-saver. Journaling is one of my self-care strategies; think

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Return-To-School Is Stressing Out U.S. Parents Across Income, Race and Political Party

The worse of the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come, most Americans felt in July 2020. That foreboding feeling is shaping U.S. parents’ concerns about their children returning to school, with the calendar just weeks away from educators opening their classrooms to students, from kindergarten to the oldest cohort entering senior year of high school. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s July 2020 Health Tracking Poll focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic, return-to-school, and the governments’ response. KFF polled 1,313 U.S. adults 18 and older between July 14 to 19, 2020. The first line chart illustrates Americans’ growing concerns about the coronavirus, shifting

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More Americans Pivot to Distancing and Mask-Wearing in the Hot Summer of 2020

With growing coronavirus case hotspots in southern and western states, more Americans perceive the pandemic is worsening this summer, shown by a Gallup poll published 20 July 2020. Gallup titles the analysis, Americans’ social distancing steady as pandemic worsens. The first table organizes Gallup’s data by demographics, illustrating a significant gap between how women perceive the exacerbating pandemic compared with men. In early June, roughly one-third of both men and women saw COVID-19 was getting “worse”; five weeks later, in the second week of July, men and women’s perceptions were 12 points apart with more women concerned about the situation

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Stressed Out By COVID and Civil Unrest – the APA’s Stress in America Survey, Part 2

“Now” is the lowest point in history that most Americans can remember: 7 in 10 people in the U.S. feel this way, up from 56% in 2018 and 2019. Furthermore, 4 in 5 people in the U.S. say the future of America is a significant source of stress, as discussed in Stress in the Time of COVID-19, Volume Two, a report covering a poll of U.S. adults sponsored by the American Psychological Association. APA’s Stress in America research has been one of my annual go-to’s for better understanding U.S. residents through the lens of health consumers and, especially this year

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Health Insurance and Demand for Masking, Testing and Contact Tracing – New Data from The Commonwealth Fund

The coronavirus pandemic occasioned the Great Lockdown for people to shelter-at-home, tele-work if possible, and shut down large parts of the U.S. economy considered “non-essential.” As health insurance for working-age people is tied to employment, COVID-19 led to disproportionate loss of health plan coverage especially among people earning lower incomes, as well as non-white workers, explained in the Commonwealth Fund Health Care Poll: COVID-19, May-June 2020. The Commonwealth Fund commissioned interviews with 2,271 U.S. adults 18 and over between 13 May and 2nd June 2020 for this study. The survey has two lenses: first, on health insurance coverage among working

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Juneteenth 2020: Inequality and Injustice in Health Care in America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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West Virginia Was the Last State to ID a COVID-19 Positive Patient; The States’ Residents Are At Highest Risk for Severe Reaction to C19

Gallup has estimated 11 Million in U.S. at Severe Risk If Infected With COVID-19 in research published today. And the health citizens of West Virginia would be at greatest risk for having a severe reaction to the coronavirus. A “severe reaction” here means being critically ill or dying. The forecast doesn’t focus on the whole number of people in the US. who would be at-risk of contracting the coronavirus; the 11 million is the total number of Americans who have a “very high chance of becoming critically ill or dying” if 100% of the country were infected with C19. This

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The COVID19 Consumer: #AloneTogether and More Health Aware

The number of diagnoses of people testing positive with the coronavirus topped 14,000 today in the U.S., Johns Hopkins COVID-19 interactive map told us this morning. As tests have begun to come on stream from California on the west coast to New York state on the east, the U.S. COVID-19 positives will continue to ratchet up for weeks to come, based on the latest perspectives shared by the most-trusted expert in America, Dr. Anthony Fauci. This report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, published March 13, 2020, forecasts a

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Shaky Trust in the Age of the Coronavirus – Who Do Americans Trust for COVID-19 Facts?

One in two Americans trust the Centers for Disease Control for the facts on the coronavirus pandemic, and 43% trust the World Health Organization. But there’s a huge trust deficit when it comes to trusting President Donald Trump on the facts about COVID-19, a poll from Morning Consult and The Hollywood Reporter found. 2,200 U.S. adults were surveyed between 12 and 15 March 2020 on the coronavirus pandemic and their perspectives on the media and political leaders’ information credibility. For news on the pandemic, only one in five Americans believed the President and 18%, the Vice President, Mike Pence, followed

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

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

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Lockdown Economics for U.S. Health Consumers

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

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

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

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Waking Up a Health Consumer in the COVID-19 Era

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

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The Book on Deaths of Despair – Deaton & Case On Education, Pain, Work and the Future of Capitalism

Anne Case and Angus Deaton were working in a cabin in Montana the summer of 2014. Upon analyzing mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they noticed that death rates were rising among middle-aged white people. “We must have hit a wrong key,” they note in the introduction of their book, Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism. This reversal of life span in America ran counter to a decades-long trend of lower mortality in the U.S., a 20th century accomplishment, Case and Deaton recount. In the 300 pages that follow, the researchers deeply dive into and

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Most Americans Concerned About Coronavirus Impact on Economy & Families, and Not a “Hoax”

Seven in 10 Americans are concerned about the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on the economy, and 6 in 10 people worried about someone they love getting sick from COVID-19. But most Americans also get the politicized nature of the coronavirus and say they’re less likely to vote for President Trump in November based on his handling of the public health threat, according to a just-released survey from Protect Our Care fielded by Public Policy Polling. Some of the data points which demonstrate that Americans are taking the emerging coronavirus pandemic quite seriously are that: 53% disagree that President Trump and his

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Ill Health of Rural Hospitals in Four Charts

There are 1,844 rural hospitals operating in the U.S. That number is down by 19 in the 2019 calendar year, the worst year of rural hospital closings seen in the past decade. That hockey-stick growth of closures is shown in the first chart, where 34 rural hospitals shut down in the past 2 years. Rural U.S. hospitals are in poor fiscal health. “The accelerated rate at which rural hospitals are closing continues to unsettle the rural healthcare community and demands a more nuanced investigation into rural hospital performance,” threatening the stability of the rural health safety net, according to the

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

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

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

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

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USA Today Finds Hidden Common Ground Among Americans For Health Care

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

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

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

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

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

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The State of the Union for Prescription Drug Prices

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

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Most Americans Are Curious and Hopeful About Genetics Research, But Privacy-Concerned

Most Americans associate more optimistic words with human genetics research than they do darker implications: “curious,” “hopeful,” “amazed.” and indeed “optimistic” ranked the top four impressions in peoples’ minds, based on a survey form the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). Below these perceptions are a few concerning concepts such as “cautious,” “concerned,” “hesitant, and “skeptical,” the poll found. Based on the relatively positive views on genetics research, most Americans support increasing Federal funding for that research: 74% said it was somewhat or very important to do so, compared with 15% saying it was not important. People value genetics research

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

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

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

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

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The 2020 Social Determinants of Health: Connectivity, Art, Air and Love

Across the U.S., the health/care ecosystem warmly embraced social determinants of health as a concept in 2019. A few of the mainstreaming-of-SDoH signposts in 2019 were: Cigna studying and focusing in on loneliness as a health and wellness risk factor Humana’s Bold Goal initiative targeting Medicare Advantage enrollees CVS building out an SDOH platform, collaborating with Unite US for the effort UPMC launching a social impact program focusing on SDoH, among other projects investing in social factors that bolster public health. As I pointed out in my 2020 Health Populi trendcast, the private sector is taking on more public health

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

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

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Food As Medicine: Grocery Stores Expand as Health Destinations While the Federal Government Cuts Food Stamps

There’s something like cognitive dissonance as I prepare my 2020 Health Populi TrendCast of what to expect in the health/care ecosystem in the new year. One of my key pillars for health-making is food-as-medicine, and that opportunity in this moment resonates in this holiday season with Dickens’ “Best of Times, Worst of Times” context-setting that kicks off Great Expectations. In the “best of times” part of the food+health equation, we recognize the growing role of grocery stores, food-tech and food manufacturers in the health/care landscape. A current example comes from Kroger, partnering with Ascension’s health system in Tennessee, enhancing the organization’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thinking About Health Care One Year From the 2020 Presidential Election

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What the Pew Report on Trust and Distrust in America Means for Health/Care, El Paso and Dayton — Pogo Rears His Head Again

Two in three Americans believe their trust in each other has been shrinking. And most people connect the dots between that low level of trust and America’s ability to solve problems. It’s been well-documented that Americans’ trust in institutions, and especially government and media, has eroded over the past decade. I’ve tracked that social trend here in Health Populi each year since covering the Edelman Trust Barometer, which has traced the downward sloping curve on trust globally and certainly in the U.S. The precipitous decline in trust in America among fellow Americans is described in Pew Research Gr0up’s report, Trust

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

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

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

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

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The Monetary, Clinical and Ethical Value of Patient Data – A View from the UK and NHS

There are about 55 million patient records held by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). Their monetary value to private sector companies would be £5 billion and nearly that much in patient benefits. Add in value for patient outcomes, and the total approaches £10 billion. In today’s UK:US currency exchange rate, 10 billion British pound sterling is worth roughly $12 billion. Realising the Value of Healthcare Data from EY explores how patient data can, in the words of the report, “unlock significant operational savings, enhanced patient outcomes, and wider economic benefits” for the NHS and patients through using artificial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Americans Could Foster a Health Consumer Movement, Families USA Envisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What We Know We Know About ZIP Codes, Food, and Deaths of Despair – HealthConsuming Explains, Part 3

“There’s a 15-year difference in the life expectancy between the richest and poorest Americans.” That’s the first sentence of Chapter 7 in my book, HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen. This data point comes from research published in JAMA in April 2016 on the association between income and life expectancy in the U.S. (That’s endnote #399 in the back of the book, one of 519 notes I use to support the plotline). Today, the Brookings Institution convened a meeting on the funding for social determinants of health to address disparities, costs, and quality of healthcare in America. The overall

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

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

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World Health Day 2019: Let’s Celebrate Food, Climate, Insurance Coverage and Connectivity

Today, 7 April, is World Health Day. With that in mind, I devote this post to three key social determinants of health (SDOH) that are top-of-mind for me these days: food for health, climate change, and universal health coverage. UHC happens to be WHO’s focus for World Health Day 2019. [As a bonus, I’ll add in a fourth SDOH in the Hot Points for good measure and health-making]. Why a World Health Day? you may be asking. WHO says it’s, “a chance to celebrate health and remind world leaders that everyone should be able to access the health care they need,

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Medical Costs Are Consuming Americans’ Financial Health

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

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

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

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

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

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Our Mobile Health Data: Shared, Identifiable, and Privacy-Deprived

As more mobile app users — consumers, patients, and caregivers — use these handy digital health tools, much of the data we share can be re-identified and monetized by third parties well beyond those we believe we’re sharing with. This compromised health data privacy scenario comes out of research published this month in the BMJ, Data sharing practices of medicines related apps and the mobile ecosystem: traffic, content, and network analysis. The researchers, faculty from the University of Toronto (Canada) and the University of Sydney (Australia), come from nursing, pharmacy, and computer science expertise — a sound combination of disciplines

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Having Health Insurance Is A Social Determinant of Health

Health insurance was on the collective minds of American voters in the 2018 midterm elections. Health care, broadly defined, drove many people to the polls voting with feet and ballots to protect their access to a health plan covering a pre-existing condition or to protest the cost of expensive prescription drugs. These were the two top health care issues among voters in late 2018, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll at the time assessed. Yesterday, President Trump verbally re-branded the Republican Party as “the party of healthcare.” That Presidential pronouncement was tied to a letter written on U.S. Department of Justice

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

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

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

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

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Loving Wegmans and Amazon, Hating on the US Government: the Axios Harris Poll 100 in 2019

Americans love grocery stores, responsible retailers, technology and Amazon, Axios and Harris Poll found in this year’s top 100 visible company poll. The bottom five of the 100 include a big bank that ripped off consumers, a bankrupt retailer, a Big Tobacco company, and two organizations led by President Trump: The Trump Organization (#98) and the U.S. Government (#100). The summary points to five key findings in the report: The U.S. Government is the worst “company” in America according to “The Citizens of America,” in the words of Axios and Harris Poll. Americans have acquired “prime” tastes and expectations through

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Americans Are Warming to Universal Health Care, Kaiser Poll Finds

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

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Nurses are the most trusted profession in America, followed by doctors and pharmacists

Nurses rank top in Americans’ minds for the seventeenth year-in-a-row, Gallup found in its annual survey of honesty and ethics in professions. At the bottom of the list for honesty and ethics in 2018, Gallup points to U.S. Congressional representatives, “Mad Men” and Women of advertising, telemarketers, and folks who sell autos. Congress-folk and car salespeople have ranked at the low-trust bottom for many years in this Gallup poll. While the 3 health care professions rose once again to the top of the job-trust roster, nurses rank far greater than doctors and pharmacists by a 17-point margin of consumers rating the

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

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

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Most Americans Want the Federal Government to Ensure Healthcare for All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Financial Stress Is An Epidemic In America, Everyday Health Finds

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

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Loneliness, Public Policy and AI – Lessons From the UK For the US

There’s a shortage of medical providers in the United Kingdom, a nation where healthcare is guaranteed to all Britons via the most beloved institution in the nation: The National Health Service. The NHS celebrated its 70th anniversary in July this year. The NHS “supply shortage” is a result of financial cuts to both social care and public health. These have negatively impacted older people and care for people at home in Great Britain. This article in the BMJ published earlier this year called for increasing these investments to ensure further erosion of population and public health outcomes, and to prevent

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How Digital Health Can Stimulate Economic Development

It’s National Health IT Week in the US, so I’m kicking off the week with this post focused on how digital health can bolster economic development. As the only health economist in the family of the 2018 HIMSS Social Media Ambassadors, this is a voice through which I can uniquely speak. In February 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), less formally known as the Stimulus Bill. This was the legislation best known for addressing and helping to bring the U.S. out of the Great Recession. A lesser-known component of ARRA was Title

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

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

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

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

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