The Rundown | Week of 8.7.2017

Est. Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Are you a busy provider looking for healthcare news? Check out The Rundown.

Healthcare is a rapidly evolving industry and it’s difficult to keep up with the news, but the success of your practice can depend on how knowledgeable you are about changes in the healthcare landscape. Privia has compiled a list of stories to keep you up to date on what you need to know about all things healthcare.

  • Trump’s response to the opioid crisis

In a pivot from his previous decision, President Trump has announced that he is ordering up the paperwork required to declare the opioid crisis a national state of emergency, the Atlantic reports. Earlier this week, President Trump was joined by Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, for a briefing on the growing opioid crisis in America. At that time, Trump promoted a message of “law-and-order” to fight the epidemic plaguing communities, stopping short of declaring it an emergency.  Though Trump was light on the specifics of what his declaration could mean, it could potentially result in the mobilization of federal agencies to respond to the crisis quicker.

Read more about Trump’s response: Trump Informally Declares the Opioid Crisis a National Emergency

  • Employers (and employees) should expect to pay more for healthcare in 2018

CNBC reports that the total average per-employee cost for health insurance benefits is on the rise for large employers. This number is expected to rise from $13,482 to $14,156 next year. Employers cover about 70% of costs, so employees should be expected to pay 30% or $4,200.  A driver for these increases? CNBC shares that many of these employers cite the cost of “specialty pharmaceuticals” that can often costs thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

See how large employers are combatting high health insurance costs: Employers to spend about $10,000 on health care for each worker

  • How did the United States become the opioid outlier?

CNBC’s new report examines how the United States became the outlier with opioid prescriptions. According to CNBC, the standard daily dose per million people in the U.S. is 50,000 doses of opioids and the U.S. is at the top of the list of the top 25 countries that consume opioids. This report chronicles Dr. Eriko Onishi’s study into why Americans consumed so many opioids. Dr. Onishi, who was medically trained and practiced in Japan, was shocked to see how often American patients requested opioids and wanted to examine why this difference existed. She found that American doctors were far likely to prescribe opioids than their Japanese counterparts. The results included that 50% of 461 Japanese doctors prescribed opioids for patients with acute pain versus the 97% of the 198 American doctors who were surveyed. Onishi notes that Japan has different cultural views on treatment, particularly for acute pain, and many Japanese people fear becoming addicted.

Read more about this difference: Why it’s so much easier to get an opioid prescription in the US than in Europe or Japan

Generic drugs cost…more?

Conventional wisdom dictates that as a consumer, choosing the generic version of any drug will net you the most cost savings. Not so with many off-brand pharmaceuticals on the market, however. The reason? Some drug companies are making backdoor deals with insurance companies not to cover generic prescriptions in favor of their pricier counterparts, this report by Propublica, in partnership with the New York Times, reveals.

Read the full report: Take the Generic Drug, Patients Are Told — Unless Insurers Say No

  • The separation of mental health and medicine

Perhaps this biggest medical cost to date is the separation of mental health from medical services, reports Politico. This piece describes the story of Southcentral Foundation, an Alaskan practice that integrated mental health services with the rest of its offerings well ahead of the curve and reaped tremendous benefits to its patients’ health as a result.

Get the full story: The Doctor Will Analyze You Now

  • Amazon’s covert healthcare vertical

According to a new report by Business Insider, Amazon is exploring the realm of digital health with a secret team called 1492.

Learn more about the secret mission: Here’s what to make of Amazon’s potential connected health play

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