The annual Milliman Medical Index measures the total cost of health care for a typical family of four covered by a preferred provider plan, or PPO. According to new data released today, the 2012 MMI cost is $20,728, an increase of $1,335, or 6.9% over 2011. The rate of increase is not as large as previous years, but the total dollar increase was still a record. This is the first year the average cost of health care for the typical American family of four has surpassed $20,000. More here.
One of four working-age U.S. adults experienced a gap in health insurance coverage during 2011, often because they lost or changed jobs, according to a new Commonwealth Fund study released today.
About seven of 10 survey respondents who went through a period without health insurance lacked coverage for a year or longer. More than half were uninsured for two years or more, according to the 2011 Commonwealth Fund Health Insurance Tracking Survey of U.S. Adults.
Major provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will go into effect starting in 2014 are expected to help bridge coverage gaps and make insurance more affordable, according to the study’s authors. These include an expansion in eligibility for Medicaid, subsidies for purchasing private plans through new health insurance exchanges, and rules preventing insurers from denying coverage or charging more based on gender or a preexisting condition.
Around a third of US adults use social media as a health resource, according to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers – whether seeking out medical info, sharing symptoms and experiences or rating drugs, devices, doctors, hospitals and health plans. The consulting giant surveyed 1,060 US adults and found that 42% have viewed health-related consumer reviews (more or less evenly split between reviews of treatments, doctors, hospitals and health insurers) through social networks like Twitter and Facebook. A third have read of friends’ or family members’ health experiences through social media, while 29% have read of other patients’ experience with a disease they have and 24% have viewed health-related videos and images posted by other patients. Not surprisingly, perhaps, those users skew young. Where more than four-fifths of 18-24-year olds said they’d share health information through social media, fewer than half (45%) of those 45-64 said the same. And across the board, users choose community sites over company-sponsored ones, which see hundreds of posts and comments per day where community sites see thousands. “In fact, community sites had 24 times more social media activity on average than any of the health industry companies” over the one-week timeframe studied, said the PwC report.
If patients treated at an emergency department for a condition treatable or preventable through care from an ambulatory care clinic were seen at a clinic instead, cost savings could reach 66 to 84 percent, according to a new research published in the April issue of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Research Activities.
The researchers looked at 2007 data from three primary care safety-net clinics and four emergency departments that were part of Carolinas HealthCare System. The study found that 59 percent of 191,622 outpatient ER visits in the Charlotte, N.C. area were for ambulatory-care-sensitive conditions – those that are potentially preventable – 11.2 percent were for necessary emergency care and 20.8 percent were related to injury.
Groups most likely to go to an emergency for an ambulatory-care-sensitive condition were blacks and Hispanics, people without health insurance or those insured by Medicare or Medicaid, females, children 2 years or younger, and children ages 3 to 18 years old.
Total hospital charges – not including physician charges – ambulatory-care-sensitive conditions to the ED were nearly $125 million – average per-visit charge of $1,099 – with emergency department costs 320 to 728 percent higher than for care at a primary care clinic.
No concensus among Americans about their expected outcome of the Supreme Court’s discussion on healthcare reform.
The Supreme Court’s decision on the health care case is more than just a simple yes or no. View this handy chart for possible SCOTUS decisions.
It’s a big week for health care, and it’s sure to be interesting. Supreme Court justices today began hearing arguments regarding the constitutionality of some provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the controversial federal health care reform law signed by President Barack Obama in March 2010.