Healthcare costs, among top financial problems for Americans, query finds

Healthcare costs, among top financial problems for Americans, query finds

Healthcare costs are on the top of the most important financial problems and issues list that Americans say their families are more likely to face. The query showed that these costs deeply worry many respondents; 17 percent named healthcare related spending when asked about their main financial struggles. Healthcare costs were more important than even lack of money or low wages, which were named by 11percent of respondents. Those two issues, along with personal debt, tied for first place a year ago. In 2017, healthcare costs were the clear leader in people’s concerns. College expenses, house related costs and taxes are the next most commonly mentioned problems in this year’s survey, with 8 percent of Americans citing each factor.

Even in a positive financial situation, healthcare remains costly

Americans’ personal financial situations are among the most positive Gallup has measured in years. Underlining that, the April 17-30 survey was conducted during a high economic confidence period, when relatively few Americans say economic matters are the most important problem the country is facing.

Twenty percent of Americans, one of the highest such percentages in Gallup’s 14-year trend on the question, said they do not have a “most important financial problem.” Not since February 2005 was the percentage higher. At that time, 21 percent of Americans said they had no financial problem.

Healthcare has remained on the top of the major concerns for Americans, even in more auspicious economic periods. Americans have very good reasons to feel so, since healthcare costs remain high for both the country and individuals.

Healthcare costs are rising far faster than inflation and have become a major driver for health care reform in the United States. As of 2016, the US spent $3.3 trillion (17.9% of GDP), or $10,438 per person; major categories included 32 percent on hospital care, 20 percent on physician and clinical services, and 10 percent on prescription drugs.

Coverage is not not easy for families to cover, either. According to data gathered by eHealth, the average health insurance cost for single coverage premiums in 2018 is $440 per month. For family coverage, the cost for premiums in 2018 is $1,168 per month.

Since 2005, healthcare costs among three recurrent financial issues

Gallup has asked the “most important family financial problem” question on 48 separate occasions since 2005. Only three issues – healthcare costs, energy costs/oil and gas prices and lack of money/low wages – have been recurrent on the top of the list in every single poll.

Healthcare costs ranked first in two of the past three surveys, and have at least tied for first in each poll since 2014.

Healthcare costs were typically tied with energy costs as the top problem prior to the Great Recession, mostly because of gasoline prices. In July 2008, a record-high 29% mentioned gas prices as their top financial issue. The ensuing unemployment periods and a slow economic recovery between 2009 and 2014 situated lack of money or low wages as the top personal financial problem. Since 2005, healthcare costs (14%) and lack of money (13%) have been most frequently mentioned as financial concerns for families. Those were the highest averages for any financial problem, and the only two above 10 percent.

People have to sacrifice other commodities to pay for healthcare

Healthcare is difficult to pay for, even in better economic conditions. Millions of American families are experiencing the pressure of soaring deductibles and medical bills. All social classes feel it, from middle-class households to the poor and uninsured.

In the last 12 years, annual deductibles in job-based health plans have nearly quadrupled and now average more than $1,300.

Even insurance gotten through employers is not easily covered, since one in six Americans who get it say they’ve had to make “difficult sacrifices” to pay for healthcare in the last year, including cutting back on food, moving in with friends or family, or taking extra jobs. One in five Americans say healthcare costs have taken all or most of their savings.

Older Americans name healthcare costs as top problem

Some subgroups, for instance older Americans, are more likely to name healthcare related costs as their top financial problem. Twenty-five percent of adults between the ages of 50 and 64, and 23 percent of those aged 65 and older, say healthcare costs put the biggest strain on their family’s budget.

Lack of money, college expenses and housing costs are the greatest financial challenges for adults younger than 50, who are about as likely to name healthcare costs among these top problems. Debt and the high cost of living are the most troubling financial issues for adults under 30.

For those in the pre-retirement years (aged 50 to 64) insufficient retirement savings are the top issue, but one which is less important for young adults or senior citizens.

Different incomes do not shift people’s points of view on healthcare costs

Even though lack of money is, obviously, a greater concern for lower-income Americans, people of different income levels are about equally likely to name healthcare as the most important financial problem, with percentages varying between 17% and 19% for each income group. Upper- and middle-income Americans are more inclined to say college expenses, taxes and retirement savings as the main financial challenges they face.

Healthcare costs remain a consistent concern over time, and are now standing above all other concerns. This makes healthcare a likely candidate for becoming a major focus point in politics, national elections and the 2020 presidential election included. Since the older generation, who is more likely to need healthcare, is also the most likely to vote, its members are going to pay special attention to the candidates’ plans to manage healthcare costs.

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Source: Healthcare costs, among top financial problems for Americans, query finds

Cigna launches program to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $25/month

Cigna launches program to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $25/month

(Reuters) – Health insurer Cigna Corp on Wednesday launched a program aimed at ensuring some diabetes patients pay no more than $25 for a 30-day supply of insulin in the wake of heightened public scrutiny over soaring prices of the life-saving drug.

U.S. lawmakers have pulled up healthcare companies over rising costs of medicine, with powerful committees in Congress holding hearings in January on insulin affordability.

The annual cost of insulin for treating a type 1 diabetes patient in the United States nearly doubled to $5,705 in 2016 from $2,864 in 2012, according to a recent study.

The program will be for eligible people with diabetes in participating health plans, the company said.

Cigna, which bought pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts last year, said it was partnering with insulin manufacturers to lower copayments to $25 at the point of sale.

For users of insulin plans managed by Cigna and Express Scripts, the average out-of-pocket cost for insulin was $41.50 for a 30-day supply in 2018, the company said.

Eli Lilly last month announced plans of selling a half-price version of its popular insulin injection, Humalog.

Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

Source: Cigna launches program to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $25/month

Fewer COPD Patients Readmitted After Video Rehabilitation, Study Says

Fewer COPD Patients Readmitted After Video Rehabilitation, Study Says

Photo source: shutterstock

Video telehealth rehabilitation reduced the rates that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) had to be readmitted within 30 days after they were hospitalized for a pulmonary exacerbation, according to a study.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in a study titled “Video Telehealth Pulmonary Rehabilitation Intervention in COPD Reduces 30-day Readmissions.”

According to the researchers, hospitalizations as a result of exacerbations in COPD patients are linked with respiratory morbidity and high healthcare costs, and accounts for nearly two-thirds of the total COPD healthcare costs. About one in five patients with COPD are readmitted within 30 days after hospital admission.

Although several hospitals have started intervention programs to lower the number of readmissions, the attempts have had minimal to modest success. However, studies have shown that pulmonary rehabilitation (multidisciplinary services aimed at improving the quality of life in patients) managed to reduce readmissions by 56%.

Consequently, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) tested the effect of a program using video telehealth rehabilitation.

The team enrolled COPD patients that were hospitalized for acute exacerbations, and identified through a daily hospital census (hospital-admitted patients). Except for specific conditions preventing them from participating in the exercises, all patients were included regardless of disease severity.

For 12 weeks, the patients attended a real-time video-conferencing intervention with 36 exercise sessions, following guidelines for conventional pulmonary rehabilitation. A physiologist provided the exercises that were based on outpatient exercise assessments, and adapted to the patient’s baseline functions.

Through the regimen, including stretching, breathing, and aerobic exercises, the goal was to reach heart rates between 60% and 80% of the maximum baseline recorded in a six-minute walk test.

Results showed a significant decrease in the 30-day all-cause readmissions among COPD patients who participated in the telehealth intervention (6.2% readmission), compared with patients who did not participate (18.1% readmission).

“Participating in an exercise program soon after hospitalization for an acute exacerbation of COPD is associated with a substantially lower readmission rate within 30 days of discharge,” Surya P. Bhatt, MD, associate professor in the division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at UAB, stated in a university news release written by Adam Pope.

“The video telehealth pulmonary rehabilitation program, by overcoming many barriers to early initiation of pulmonary rehabilitation, can expand access to pulmonary rehabilitation, especially for patients who live in rural areas,” Bhatt added.

Furthermore, the researcher emphasized that “by reducing COPD readmissions, this intervention has the potential to substantially reduce healthcare costs.”

Apart from COPD, the intervention approach can also be applied to the rehabilitation of patients with other chronic lung diseases. However, according to the team, the results need to be confirmed through randomized clinical trials.

Source: Fewer COPD Patients Readmitted After Video Rehabilitation, Study Says

Reducing Healthcare Costs in America.

Reducing Healthcare Costs in America.

#senators, if you pass a law forbidding any healthcare healthplan from neotiating network discounts greater than 20%. People will never pay more than 20% of what an insurer pays! Prices will drop dramatically over night!

Why? Health plans contract to pay doctors 40% and hospitals 10% of billed prices. So a day in the hospital is billed at $25,000 per day and the contracted “reimbursement” pays hospitals $2,500! If you are a consumer? You pay the full rate! The effect? You must get insurance.

New models of healthcare? HSAs are great, major medical (catastrophic only coverage) and pre-tax deposits to cover outpatient services. This is much more cost effective. Future Crypto-HSA might be even better!

Today Healthplans and the government have deployed ACOs (accountable care organisations) and imagine these as smaller subcontracted HMOs of older days. The problem, insurers are delegating the risk to ACOs which are micro ecosystems of hospitals, clinics and doctors. This creates higher risks for managing smaller patient populations. Many of these are failing, hospitals going bankrupt.

None of these newer directions of healthcare are curing our $3.2 Trillion health insurance bill. 95% of payments are through insurance claims (e billing) and adjudication, repricing, authorizations, network leasing and fees. 45% of healthcare $$ are wasted!! In addition, fraud accounts for $250 billon (FBI) in losses! We need new identity management systems to AUTHENTICATE patients, doctors, facilities and insurance claims!!!

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