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“The virus is the boss” — U.S. lives and livelihoods at the beginning of 2021

“The virus is the boss,” Austan Goolsbee, former Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, told Stephanie Ruhle this morning on MSNBC. Goolsbee and Jason Furman, former Chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, tag-teamed the U.S. economic outlook following today’s news that the U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs — the greatest job loss since April 2020 in the second month of the pandemic. The 2020-21 economic recession is the first time in U.S. history that a downturn had nothing to do with the economy per se. As Uwe Reinhardt, health economist guru, is whispering in my

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Preparing for a Long-COVID Lifestyle in 2021 – A Health-At-Home Focus for CES 2021

In the U.S., the latest read on supply-and-demand for COVID-19 vaccines illustrates a gap between what had been promised for the first phase of vaccine rollout versus the reality of supply chain challenges, cold storage, and 50-state and local fragmentation at the last mile for U.S. health citizens. An op-ed published in yesterday’s Washington Post by Dr. Robert Wachter of UCSF and Dr. Ashish Jha of Brown University found these two wise physicians feeling “punched in the face” with the state of coronavirus vaccination in America. As a result, they soberly, pragmatically recommended administering just the first jab of vaccine

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The Fastest-Growing Brands of 2020 Are All About the Pandemic and Health

Staying home, being clean, staying entertained, eating well, and self-caring for healthcare….these are the major factors underpinning the twenty fastest-growing brands of 2020, based on Morning Consult’s annual look at the topic. Let’s look into these categories by brand, and connect the dots for health, medical care, and well-being… Connectivity as a social determinant of health. Zoom was the fastest-growing brand of the year, with 26% of U.S. consumers saying they would consider purchasing the service in November compared with 11% in January. Zoom morphed from a business meeting platform to a consumer and family-connecting service spiking on holidays like

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Will 2021 Be the Year of Sicker Americans? Pondering Late 2020 Data from IQVIA

Yesterday, IQVIA presented their end-of-year data based on medical claims in the U.S. health care system tracking the ups, downs, and ups of the coronavirus in America. IQVIA has been tracking COVID-19 medical trends globally from early 2020. The plotline of patient encounters for vaccines, prescribed medicines, foregone procedures and diagnostic visits to doctors begs the question: in 2021, will Americans be “sicker,” discovering later-stage cancer diagnoses, higher levels of pain due to delayed hip procedures, and eroded quality of life due to leaky guts? Here are a few snapshots that paint a picture for greater morbidity and potentially more “excess

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Vaccine Hesitancy Is Greatest Among Those at Highest Risk of Dying from COVID-19: Black People

While 85% of people are open to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, over one-half of them would want to wait some time to observe if after-effects developed in people who took the jab, according to a new study from Acxiom, the data analytics-marketing company. Not all people are as enthused about getting a coronavirus vaccine at all, Acxiom discovered: in fact, those hardest hit by the virus — Black people — would be the least-likely to want to get a COVID-19 vaccine, discussed in in Vaccine Hesitancy in the U.S., a survey the company conducted among 10,000 people in the U.S.

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Rebuilding Resilience, Trust, and Health – Deloitte’s Latest on Health Care and Sustainability

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated health care providers’ and plans’ investment in digital technologies while reducing capital spending on new physical assets, we learn in Building resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. What must be built (or truly re-built), health care leaders believe, is first and foremost trust, followed by financial viability to ensure long-term resilience and sustainability — for the workforce, the organization, the community, and leaders themselves. For this report, Deloitte interviewed 60 health care chief financial officers to gauge their perspectives during the pandemic looking at the future of

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Will We See A Field of Dreams for the COVID-19 Vaccine in the U.S.?

“If you build it, he will come,” the voice of James Earl Jones echoes in our minds when we recall the plotline of the film, Field of Dreams. A quick summary if you don’t know the movie: the “it” was a baseball field to be built in a rural cornfield. The “he” was a baseball player, ultimately joined by a dream-team of ball players who would convene on that dreamy field to play an amazing game. Today, the day after Pfizer announced a 90% benefit for its coronavirus vaccine, bolstering Wall Street returns on 9th November 2020, two new consumer

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Americans Worry About Medical Bankruptcy, As Prescription Drug Costs Play Into Voters’ Concerns

One in two people in the U.S. are concerned that a major health event in their family would lead to bankruptcy, up 5 percent points over the past eighteen months. In a poll conducted with West Health, Gallup found that more younger people are concerned about medical debt risks, along with more non-white adults, published in their study report, 50% in U.S. Fear Bankruptcy Due to Major Health Event. The survey was fielded in July 2020 among 1,007 U.S. adults 18 and older. One of the basic questions in studies like these is whether a consumer could cover a $500

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The Next-Normal Health Care Consumer After the Pandemic

McKinsey invites us to Meet the next-normal consumer in a recently-published research report describing changing consumer behavior responding to the COVID-19 lockdown and aftermath. The report gives us insights into the next-normal health consumer, which I’ll discuss in today’s post. Note the massive digital shift every person living in a country touched by the coronavirus has experienced, illustrated in the first graphic from the report. Tele-work, tele-education, ecommerce, and streaming entertainment all grew so fast within a matter of a few weeks. And telemedicine, McKinsey points out, was adopted at a rate of ten times growth over 15 days, the

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Saving Money as a Financial Vaccine: BlackRock Finds Consumer Savings Drain and Etsy Sellers Not Saving Much

“Americans are feeling incredible financial pressure as a result of the COVID outbreak,” John Thompson, Chief Program Officer with the Financial Health Network. One in three people in the U.S. has skipped or stopped paying a bill, and over half of Americans have used emergency savings, according to a survey from the BlackRock Emergency Savings Initiative (ESI). BlackRock, the investment firm, allocated $50 million in February 2019 to form the ESI, focused on helping people with lower incomes to bolster savings and financial health. BlackRock partners in the ESI with the Financial Health Network, CommonWealth, the Center for Advanced Hindsight Common

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

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

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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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Pharmacies Continue to Earn Consumer-Love

Among industries that consumers frequent, one continues to delight people more than most: pharmacies. J.D. Power’s 2018 ratings on U.S. pharmacies finds that consumers do indeed still love their pharmacies after ten years of rating customer satisfaction with brick-and-mortar and mail order channels. “U.S. consumers love their pharmacies,” J.D. Power asserts in its first study finding. In terms of total points across all pharmacies, Wegmans pharmacy was the overall top-ranked Rx retail channel with a total ranking of 906 out of 1,000 points. J.D. Power evaluated four categories of pharmacy: Brick-and-mortar chain drug stores, ranking Good Neighbor Pharmacy number one.

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How Emotions and “Nocebos” Get in the Way of Preventive Healthcare

There are health facts that are based on rigorous scientific evidence. And, there are people who, for a variety of reasons, make irrational healthcare decisions without regard to those health facts. An important new report discusses the all-too-human aspects of people-as-patients, who often make health decisions based more on emotions than on the cold, hard truths that could save their lives and protect the well-being of loved ones. Preventative care and behavioural science: The emotional drivers of healthcare decisions is that report, sponsored by Pfizer Vaccines and written by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The report analyzes the psychological factors that shape consumers’ health

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A Health Consumer Perspective on CVS+Aetna

  A response to Amazon’s potential moves in healthcare and pharmacy…strategic positioning for the post-Trump healthcare landscape…vertical integration to better manage healthcare utilization and costs…these, and other rationale have been offered by industry analysts and observers of the discussions between CVS and Aetna, for the former to acquire the latter. “A pharmacy chain buying a health insurance company?” many have asked me over the past few days. These inquiring minds include people who work both inside and outside of health/care. I ask back: in 2017 and in the future, “What is a pharmacy? What is a health plan?” See the

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More Consumers Use Retail Health Clinics for Healthcare Management, Harris Finds

1 in 5 U.S. adults used a retail clinic in 2016. Increasingly, health consumers seek care from retail clinics for more complex healthcare services beyond flu shots and pre-school exams, according to the Harris Poll’s survey, One in Five Adults Turn to Retail Health Clinics for Treatment, Prevention, and More, published January 5, 2017. Additional points the poll revealed are worth attention for public health policy purposes: Twice as many people who identify as LGBT turn to retail clinics than others (35% vs. 18%) Older people frequent retail clinics for flu vaccines more than younger people do More younger men

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Health care as a retail business

The health care industry is undergoing a retail transformation, according to Retail Reigns in Health Care: The rise of consumer power and its organization & workforce implications from Deloitte. Deloitte’s report published in October 2014 focuses on the health insurance business, which is newly-dealing with uninsured people largely unfamiliar with how to evaluate health plan options. This by any definition requires new muscles for both buyers and sellers on a health insurance exchange: new product access + uninformed consumer = retail challenge. Deloitte notes another supply and demand challenge, and that’s with the health insurance company workforce: while 93% of health

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Health care and survey taking at the Big Box Store

Where can you shop the health and beauty aisles, pick up some groceries and a prescription, get a flu vaccine, and weigh in on Obamacare and what digital health tools you like? Why, at one of several thousand retail stores where you can find a SoloHealth kiosk. As of yesterday afternoon, over 32 million encounters were recorded on SoloHealth kiosks, based on an app I saw on the company CEO Bart Foster’s smartphone. Kiosks are locatted around the United States in retailers including Walmart and Sam’s Clubs, along with major grocery chains like Schnuck’s and Publix, and the CVS pharmacy

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A tale of vaccines, public school, and family medical rights

This is a personal post about a very personal idea: medical rights and freedom of choice. When it has to do with your child, especially when she is a minor, then it’s ever-the-more personal. I have permission to use my daughter’s name, Anna, for this post. Anna’s public high school hosted a flu vaccine clinic this week. As I believe and live the mantra that health is where we live, work, play and pray — that health is not locked up isolated in a doctor’s office or hospital bed — I embrace the role that schools can play to bolster

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