The Rundown by inforMD | Week of 1.6.2020

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The U.S. Spent $812 Billion on Healthcare Administration in 2017

According to a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, America spent “insurers and providers spent $812 billion on administration” in 2017. This worked out to $2,497 per capita compared to $551 in Canada. Similarly, these administrative costs account for more than one-third of America’s “national health expenditures.” The complexity of billing multiple payers was a significant cost, and physician billing costs were five-times higher in American when compared to Canada. Furthermore, researchers noted that the “prices U.S. medical providers charge incorporate a hidden surcharge to cover their costly administrative burden.”
>> Read More: Health Care Administrative Costs in the United States and Canada, 2017

Online Reviews Less Important to Older Patients

Older adults are less likely to make healthcare decisions based on online ratings, a new poll suggests. Researchers from the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging found that less than half of adults age 50 to 80 had ever reviewed a doctor’s online ratings. “Among older adults who had looked up doctor ratings within the past year, 65 percent read reviews of a doctor they were considering, 34 percent read reviews to find a new doctor, and 31 percent read reviews for a doctor they had already seen.” Furthermore, only 7 percent of surveyed patients had left an online rating or review. “Ratings are important to some people, but are by no means the most important factor for choosing a doctor: appointment availability, physician credentials, and recommendations from other providers or family members were all more important factors for older adults,” researchers concluded.
>> Read More: Searching for a Good Doctor, Online

GAO Report: Veterans Health Administration Spent $4 Billion on Medical Facilities

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) “spent more than $4 billion staffing and equipping” medical facilities from the “fiscal year 2012 through 2018.” However, the VHA did not have “processes and clear definitions” to measure the spending’s effectiveness. In response, the federal watchdog recommended the VHA recommendations: develop and document processes “for estimating total activation costs” and “comparing actual activation costs” as well as defining and documenting “what items and services officials can purchase with activation funds” and “when facilities should cease to spend activation funds.”
>> Read More: VHA Should Improve Activation Cost Estimates and Oversight

Study: Five Habits to Increase Life Expectancy

A recent study published in BMJ found five healthy habits that are “associated with a longer life expectancy free of major chronic diseases.” Researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health ran a prospective cohort study “to examine how a healthy lifestyle is related to life expectancy that is free from major chronic diseases,” including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The lifestyle choices include: not smoking, maintaining a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9, at least half an hour of “vigorous physical activity” every day, “moderate alcohol intake,” and a “higher diet quality score.”
>> Read More: Healthy Lifestyle and Life Expectancy Free of Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, and Type 2 Diabetes: Prospective Cohort Study

States Can Do More to Lower Healthcare Costs for Residents

According to a recent report, states have the power to make healthcare more affordable for their residents. “State policymakers have a robust policy toolset they can use to ensure all residents have affordable healthcare coverage that features consumer-friendly cost-sharing and premiums that reflect efficient care delivery and fair pricing,” researchers from Altarum reported. Overall, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Oregon were the highest-scoring states in terms of policy actions to extend affordable coverage to all state residents. Researchers grouped findings into four categories for improvement: extend coverage to all residents, lower out-of-pocket costs, reduce low-value care, and curb excess prices.
>> Read More: Healthcare Affordability State Policy Scorecard

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