The Rundown | Week of 6.24.2019

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Out-of-Pocket Costs Continued to Rise

Patients’ out-of-pocket costs increased by 12 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to a new report from TransUnion Healthcare. The increases occurred “across all settings of care,” including inpatient, outpatient, and emergency services. The press release noted: “As out-of-pocket costs increase, the trend toward consumerism is growing as more patients, payers and providers transition to lower cost settings of care.” More than half of the patients paid more than $500 out-of-pocket for a healthcare visit in 2018, 20 percent more than the year before.
>> Read More: Out-of-Pocket Costs Rising Even as Patients Transition to Lower Cost Settings of Care

Trump Signs Executive Order for Price Transparency

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that he claimed would allow patients “to know the real price and quality of healthcare services.” The order directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to require hospitals to disclose prices paid by insurers and patients for routine procedures. However, some have noted that the mandate did not specify how detailed the disclosures should be. According to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the order contains five components, such as creating “a roadmap for consolidating quality measures across all federal healthcare programs” and “dramatically expanding access to de-identified healthcare claims data.”
>> Read More: Executive Order on Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First

Dementia Linked to Certain Prescription Drugs

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine linked certain medications to an increased risk of dementia. The nested case-control study of nearly 60,000 patients found that “exposure to anticholinergic antidepressants, antiparkinson drugs, antipsychotic drugs, bladder antimuscarinics, and antiepileptic drugs” increased the risk of dementia “after adjusting for confounding variables.” The drugs, which have short-term cognitive adverse effects, led to a nearly 50 percent increased risk of dementia. Researchers concluded that “these drugs should be prescribed with caution in middle-aged and older adults.”
>> Read More: Anticholinergic Drug Exposure and the Risk of Dementia

Some Types of Sitting Worse for Health

While an overly sedentary lifestyle has long been known to negatively affect health, a recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that leisurely sitting is worse than productive sitting. The study measured the health outcomes of more than 3,500 African American adults across eight years, during which time 129 had a heart issue and 205 died. “African Americans who watched more than four hours of television every day faced a 50% greater risk of heart disease and premature death compared with those who watched less than two hours,” the study noted. Researchers noted that exercise may “offset” potential harms and, while the study focused on African American participants, the results apply to all races.
>> Read More: Binge Watching TV Increases Heart Health Risks More Than a Desk Job Among African Americans

Study: Gut Bacteria Linked to Fibromyalgia

Canadian researchers recently linked 19 species of gut bacteria with increased or decreased risk of fibromyalgia (FM). The study, published in Pain, analyzed 156 women, 77 of whom have FM, which is “characterized by chronic widespread pain, fatigue, and impaired sleep.” Researchers used genome sequencing to find “variance in the composition of the microbiomes” that were “explained by FM-related variables.” Amir Minerbi, the study’s lead author, said: “The severity of a patient’s symptoms was directly correlated with an increased presence or a more pronounced absence of certain bacteria — something which has never been reported before.” An unrelated study in Nature Medicine found that endurance athletes may also have specialized gut bacteria.
>> Read More: Altered Microbiome Composition in Individuals with Fibromyalgia

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