Beautiful infographics on global trends in life expectancy, disease burden, and child and maternal mortality. It is truly striking how much improvement we have made over the last 50 years, and continue make. Continue reading Health Policy Updates: January 1 2017
The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a series of charts explaining various aspects of drug costs – the impact of the new hepatitis C drugs, the “doughnut hole” closure, etc. My personal favorite was this one, showing the high amounts that Medicare beneficiaries have to pay out-of-pocket for some drugs, despite having Part D coverage.
After this study made the news several years ago, it became common knowledge that “doctors die differently” from the rest of us. Having been behind the scenes in providing care to dying patients, the story went, doctors know how ineffective and truly painful such care can be. As a result, they are more interested in Hospice care, and they forgo such interventions such a CPR when they finally reach the end. If only everyone knew what doctors know, then they could be spared the agony and indignity of dying in a hospital!
In contrast, a more recent study finds that doctors really don’t differ from everyone else. It seems like they spend just as much time in the hospital, and in the ICU. I was surprised by this finding; if true, it makes me more pessimistic about the ability of more information or education to help people to avoid painful, costly, low-value care at the end of life.
“They found that the majority of physicians and non-physicians were hospitalized in the last six months of life and that the small difference between the two groups was not statistically significant after adjusting for other variables. The groups also had the same likelihood of having at least one stay in the ICU during that period”
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: June 11 2016
There have been rumblings over the last week about anticipated price hikes in health insurance next year. Of course, many of the rumblings have started with the insurance industry itself, whose self-interests align with such claims; claiming that “we are losing so much money on ACA/Obamacare plans that we are going to have to jack up prices” is an implicit plea for the government to tweak existing policy in their favor.
On the other hand, there certainly are many components of the ACA that would be expected to drive up insurance costs – the end of the existing condition exclusion, and minimum requirements for what services health insurance has to cover, as examples. However, these provisions have been in place for several years now, and overall health care spending (and health insurance costs) have been growing close to historical levels. Will 2017 be the year this changes? Only time will tell.
“The law created a robust set of regulations for insurance plans…All those rules cost money. The idea was that this costly restructuring of the insurance market would be offset by an influx of healthy customers, so that insurers would be kept in business. That hasn’t happened as people hoped it would.” Continue reading Health Policy Updates: May 7 2016
The big story of the week was new data and reports on increasing death rates in the US, particularly for poor, rural white people. Here are some of the best I’ve found:
The “data journalism”-supported story in the Washington Post at the beginning of the week that kicked things off.
Report on the relationship of income and health, in the New York Times. Great infographics.
This cool feature of the above story will allow you to see how your area compares in terms of life expectancy and income.
A social/economic explanation offered in the NYTimes.
“And here is one solution to the death-rate conundrum: It’s likely that many non-college-educated whites are comparing themselves to a generation that had more opportunities than they have, whereas many blacks and Hispanics are comparing themselves to a generation that had fewer opportunities.”