Health care spending continues to increase – the rate of increase in 2016 was 4.3%, down from 5.8% in 2015 but still greater than inflation. Health care now takes up 17.9% of the US economy. The out-of-pocket costs borne by patients, though, are up more sharply.
“A shift toward insurance plans that transfer more of the burden of health care costs onto patients helped fuel the rise in out-of-pocket costs. In 2016, 29 percent of people who receive insurance through employers were enrolled in high-deductible plans, up from 20 percent in 2014. The size of the deductibles also increased over this time period, a 12 percent increase in 2016 for individual plans, compared with a 7 percent increase in 2014.”
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: December 10 2017
New data from the Kaiser Family Foundation on prescription drug spending in Medicare. I found the out-of-pocket cost burden to be particularly notable – over $3,000 on average for patients hitting the catastrophic threshold, which will include most cancer patients.
A couple of pieces this week analyzing what the White House could do (if it truly wanted) to lower drug prices. This comes in the wake of the nomination of Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, for HHS secretary.
The first, from three separate, feasible policy strategies that could lower prices:
“Finally, Trump and Azar could bring the pharmaceutical industry to the negotiating table for excessively priced essential drugs covered by government payers such as Medicare and Medicaid. Current law allows federal programs to seek competitive bids for patented medicines, even if they come from companies other than the patent holder.”
The second describes and analyzes the actions that White House has already taken to start to address drug prices:
“Several health policy experts noted that although the new policies spare pharmaceutical companies any direct intervention, they are aimed at fixing real market distortions and are grounded in evidence. They may also reflect the levers the government can easily pull without legislative action.”
Bad news for the ACA: dropout rates from the health care plans on the exchanges is pretty high. Can people just not afford the monthly premiums, even with the subsidies? That’s what this NYTimes piece seems to suggest.
“About 9.9 million people were enrolled in the federal and state marketplaces at the end of June, a drop of about 15 percent from the 11.7 million who the Obama administration said selected plans during the open enrollment period that ended in February.” Continue reading Health Policy Updates: October 18 2015
Recently, I’ve given some attention in this space to growing out-of-pocket costs to patients. This week, Health Affairs posted a great summary of the history of this trend.
“Overall out-of-pocket spending has been on the rise for some time, growing nearly 40 percent from 1996-2005. While it has since slowed due to enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage provisions, National Health Expenditure projections call for increased growth over the next decade.” Continue reading Health Policy Updates: October 3 2015