The Rundown | Week of 12.2.2019

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Medical Costs Impact Holiday Plans, Study Says

The 2019 Aflac Study Health Care Issues Study shows the negative impact of hospital costs on family holiday budgets over the holidays. The study, which consisted of a survey of more than 1,100 participants, concluded that “high medical costs led 71 percent of American families with children to make a sacrifice or hard decision during the holidays.” Hard decisions included increases in debt, canceled holiday plans, and avoiding purchasing gifts. The survey also reports that “almost half of Americans (49 percent) say they have been to a hospital in the past two years for an outpatient procedure, an overnight stay, or both.” Of those surveyed, 38 percent visited the hospital for “pre-scheduled surgery, such as but not limited to hip or knee replacement.”
>>Read More: Are Medical Costs Impacting Holiday Plans?

Study Shows Inequity Between Men and Women Physicians in the Workplace

A survey of 781 male and female physicians by CompHealth and Hanover Research reveals that women physicians are “more likely to experience discrimination, insubordination, retaliation, physical violence, and sexual harassment than men.” Additionally, the study reveals that “63 percent of women felt that men were more respected than women.” This same treatment extends to patients, as “87 percent of women feel patients treat them differently than men while only 58 percent of men feel they are treated differently.”
>>Read More: Survey Report: Female Physicians Receive Less Respect and More Harassment Than Their Male Counterparts

State Senators Ask Commercial Payers to Take a Closer Look at Their Algorithms

State senators Ron Wyden (D, OR) and Cory Booker (D, NJ) addressed the issue of racial bias in “a widely used algorithm for assessing healthcare needs” to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and are “seeking information to help determine the extent of the bias problem.” In their letter, the senators emphasized that the “creators of the algorithm did not take into account that health care needs are not the only contributing factor to an individual’s level of health care costs.” As a result, the algorithm was less likely to refer black patients for additional services even though “the black patients were typically sicker than their white counterparts at a given risk score developed by the algorithm.”
>> Read More: Senators Push CMS, Commercial Payers on Bias in Algorithms

Hospitals to Sue American Hospital Association Over New Price Transparency Rule

Hospitals are planning to push back against the American Hospital Association (AHA) in court over a newly mandated rule that would require them to publish “various pricing information, including gross charges, payer-specific rates, minimum and maximum negotiated charges, and the amount the hospital is willing to accept in cash from a patient.” The rule was created to “push price transparency to help patients make informed decisions.” Several hospitals have joined the lawsuit, which dictates that the new rule will “confuse patients, overwhelm hospitals, and thwart competition.”
>> Read More: Hospitals Sue HHS Over Price Transparency Rule

Study: More Americans Are Dying in Middle Age

A recent study shows that the average American lifespan is decreasing and has been since 2014. Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine compiled “longitudinal trends in life expectancy” of adults between the ages of 25 and 64 years from 1959 to 2016. Evidence shows that “the recent decrease in US life expectancy was largely related to increases in all-cause mortality in young and middle-aged adults.” The study links the all-cause mortality rate to “a large increase in fatal drug overdoses,” suicide, organ failure, and other causes.
>> Read More: Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates in the United States, 1959-2017

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