The Rundown | Week of 4.29.2019

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Study: Childhood Mortality Decreased While Morbidity Increased

A recent study in JAMA Pediatrics indicates “child and adolescent mortality decreased throughout the world from 1990 to 2017, but morbidity has increased as a proportion of total disease burden.” Furthermore, the “major causes of nonfatal health loss during childhood and adolescence have not changed dramatically.” The study examined boys and girls from 195 countries who were younger than 20 between 1990 and 2017. Researchers concluded the increased disease burden “has the potential to increase already overburdened health systems, [and] will affect the human capital potential of societies.”
>> Read More: Child and Adolescent Health, 1990 to 2017 — Findings From the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors 2017 

ACA Buffer Against Future Economic Recession

As part of their healthcare industry assessment, researchers at Moody’s Investors Service concluded the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could protect insurers in the event of an economic recession. “[H]ealthcare insurers would show more resilience in the next economic downturn than they did in 2008,” the researchers noted. “Makers of generic drugs would benefit and makers of branded drugs would be largely unaffected.” Analysts believed that, if unemployment rose as a result of an economic downturn, health insurers would see enrollment growth. While hospitals are more “recession-resistant,” they would still see declines in volume and “an unfavorable shift in the payer mix.”
>> Read More: Moody’s – Healthcare Quarterly Assesses Strength of US Healthcare Industry in a Downturn

Survey: Prior Authorizations Postpone Life-Saving Medicine

A new survey by the American Society for Radiation Oncology contends that prior authorizations harm cancer patients by delaying necessary care. Ninety-three percent of the 3,882 oncologists polled said postponements due to prior authorizations have prevented patients from life-saving treatments. More than 10 percent of patients were forced into alternative therapies because of prior authorizations. Furthermore, the majority of oncologists said they required additional staff to handle the amount of paperwork.
>> Read More: Prior Authorization and Cancer Patient Care

Small Businesses’ Deductibles Growing Steeply

A recent survey from eHealth found that deductibles increased steeply for small businesses’ health plans from 2017 to 2018. The average employee’s deductible increased by 14 percent while the average per-person premium decreased by 2 percent. Companies with five or fewer employees and groups with between six and 29 employees had almost identical average individuals deductibles of $3,140 and $3,141, respectively. Point of Service (POS) and Health Maintenance Organizations comprised nearly three-quarters of employer plans. The most common reason for offering health benefits to workers was to “hire and retain the best employees.”
>> Read More: Small Businesses Health Insurance: Costs, Trends and Insights 2018

Genetics Play Small Role in Dental Health

A recent study in Pediatrics found that one-third of children have tooth decay before starting school, though the reasons are primarily habitual, not genetic. Researchers collected “demographic, health, and phenotypic data” from 250 Australian twin pregnancies beginning in utero through age six. Of the 345 children who visited dentists, more than half showed signs of either early-stage or advanced decay. When researchers accounted for variables, such as lack of fluoridated water and maternal obesity, they concluded: “environmental rather than genetic factors drive dental caries risk and arise as early as prenatal life.”
>> Read More: Genetic and Early-Life Environmental Influences on Dental Caries Risk: A Twin Study

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