High Deductible Plans Hit Chronically Ill Low-Income Patients Hardest

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Salam Abdus, PhD Division of Research and Modeling, Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Department of Health and Human Services Rockville, Maryland

Dr. Abdus

Salam Abdus, PhD
Division of Research and Modeling,
Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends,
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Department of Health and Human Services
Rockville, Maryland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 


Response:
High deductible health plans are more prevalent than ever.

Previous research showed that adults in low-income families or with chronic conditions are more likely to face high financial burdens when they are enrolled in high-deductible health plans, compared to adults in higher income families or healthier adults.

In this study we examined the financial burden of high-deductible health plans among adults who are both low income and chronically ill. We used AHRQ’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component (MEPS-HC) data from 2011 to 2015 to study the prevalence of high out-of-pocket health care spending burden of high deductible health plans among adults enrolled in employer-sponsored insurance. We included family out-of-pocket spending on premiums and health care services.

We found that among adults who had family income below 250% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL), had multiple chronic conditions, and were enrolled in high-deductible health plans, almost half (46.9%) had financial family out-of-pocket health care burden exceeding 20 percent of family disposable income.

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Most Health Care Costs Associated With Osteoporotic Fractures Occur in First Year

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kandice A. Kapinos, Ph.D. Economist Professor RAND Corporation Pardee RAND Graduate School 

Dr. Kapinos

Kandice A. Kapinos, Ph.D.
Economist
Professor
RAND Corporation
Pardee RAND Graduate School 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: The economic burden of osteoporotic fractures is substantial with studies estimating the annual healthcare cost burden between $10 to 17 billion. Although estimates from individual studies vary, most studies assessing costs after a fracture only explore up to twelve months following a fracture. There is little investigation of how fracture patients’ costs evolve over a longer post-fracture period.

As osteoporotic fractures are one of the most common causes of disability among older adults and can translate into greater medical costs, we focused on studying Medicare beneficiaries. In fact, previous research has suggested that most of the increase in Medicare spending over time can be explained from costs associated with treating higher risk Medicare beneficiaries.

Our objective in this study was to compare health care costs over a 3-year period of those who experienced a fracture to those who did not among a sample of Medicare beneficiaries who were at an increased risk of having a fracture.

Consistent with previous studies, we found a significant increase in expenditures in the year immediately following a fracture relative to controls: almost $14,000 higher for fractures relative to controls. However, at 2 and 3-years post-fracture, there were no significant differences in the change in expenditures between fracture cases and controls. We note that these findings may be different for beneficiaries living in skilled nursing facilities or other non-community-based settings.

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How Much Do Clinical Trials For New Medications Really Cost?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thomas J Moore Senior Scientist Institute for Safe Medication Practices Lecturer, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics The George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health Alexandria, VA 22314

Thomas J Moore

Thomas J Moore AB
Senior Scientist Institute for Safe Medication Practices
Lecturer, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
The George Washington University
Milken Institute of Public Health
Alexandria, VA 22314

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

  • The study provides realistic cost estimates of pivotal clinical trials that establish drug benefits to support FDA approval of 59 new drugs released for marketing in 2015-2016.
  • The median estimated cost was just $19 million, with half of the 138 trials studied clustered between $12 million and $33 million.
  • The highest cost trials–with estimates up to $345 million–were for new drugs that were similar to drugs already available and already proven in treating serious illnesses. 

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Who Has the Highest Rate of Readmission After Hospital Discharge?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"patient in hospital bed with nursing staff gathered around" by Penn State is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0Andrea Gruneir, PhD
Department of Family Medicine
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB Canada

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Hospital readmissions – when a patient is discharged from hospital but then returns to hospital in a short period of time – are known to be a problem, both for the patients and for the larger health system. Hospital readmissions have received considerable attention and there have been a number of initiatives to try to reduce them, but with mixed success. Older adults are among the most vulnerable group for hospital readmission. Older adults are also the largest users of continuing care services, such as home care and long-term care homes (also known as nursing homes). Yet, few large studies have really considered how older adults with different pathways through hospital compare on the risk of hospital readmission.

In our study, we take a population-level approach and use health administrative data to create a large cohort of older adults who were hospitalized in Ontario between 2008 and 2015. For each of the 701,527 patients in our study, we identified where they received care before the hospitalization (in the community or in long-term care) and where they received care after discharge (in the community, in the community with home care, or in long-term care).  Continue reading

Medicare Spends Hundreds of Millions Annually to Treat Precancerous Skin Lesions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Actinic Keratosis” by Ed Uthman is licensed under CC BY 2.0Howa Yeung, MD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology
Emory University School of Medicine
Atlanta, GA 30322 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain what is meant by actinic keratoses?

Response: Actinic keratoses are common precancerous skin lesions caused by sun exposure. Because actinic keratoses may develop into skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, they are often treated by various destructive methods. We used Medicare Part B billing claims to estimate the number and cost of treated actinic keratoses from 2007 to 2015.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? 

Response: While the number of Medicare Part B beneficiaries increased only moderately, the number of actinic keratoses treated by destruction rose from 29.7 million in 2007 to 35.6 million in 2015. Medicare paid an average annual amount of $413.1 million for actinic keratosis destruction from 2007 to 2015. Independently billing non-physician clinicians, including advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants, are treating an increasing proportion of actinic keratosis, peaking at 13.5% in 2015.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Readers should understand that the burden of actinic keratosis treatment is increasing in the Medicare population. There is also an increasing proportion of actinic keratoses being treated by advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants.  Continue reading

Access to Treatment for Head/Neck Cancer Patients Improved with Medicaid Expansion

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard B. Cannon, MD Division of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery School of Medicine University of Utah, Salt Lake City 

Dr. Cannon

Richard B. Cannon, MD
Division of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery
School of Medicine
University of Utah, Salt Lake City 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 Response: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a nationwide effort to reduce the number of uninsured individuals in the United States and increase access to health care. This legislation is commonly debated and objective data is needed to evaluate its impact.  As a head and neck cancer surgeon, I sought to evaluate how the ACA had specifically influenced my patients.  Main findings below:    

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This population-based study found an increase in the percentage of patients enrolled in Medicaid and private insurance and a large decrease in the rates of uninsured patients after implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This change was only seen in states that adopted the Medicaid expansion in 2014. The decrease in the rate of uninsured patients was significant, 6.2% before versus 3.0% after. Patients who were uninsured prior to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act had poorer survival outcomes.

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Scribes Can Reduce Documentation Burden for Primary Care Physicians, But Cost is High

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard W. Grant MD MPH Research Scientist III, Kaiser Permanente Division of Resarch Adjunct Associate Professor, UCSF Dept Biostatistics & Epidemiology Director, Kaiser Permanente Delivery Science Fellowship Program Co-Director, NIDDK Diabetes Translational Research post-doctoral training program

Dr. Grant

Richard W. Grant MD MPH
Research Scientist III, Kaiser Permanente Division of Resarch
Adjunct Associate Professor, UCSF Dept Biostatistics & Epidemiology
Director, Kaiser Permanente Delivery Science Fellowship Program
Co-Director, NIDDK Diabetes Translational Research post-doctoral training program

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Primary care in the United States is in a state of crisis, with fewer trainees entering the field and more current primary care doctors leaving due to professional burnout. Changes in the practice of primary care, including the many burdens related to EHR documentation, has been identified as a major source of physician burnout. There are ongoing efforts to reduce physician burnout by improving the work environment. One innovation has been the use of medical scribes in the exam room who are trained to enter narrative notes based on the patient-provider interview. To date, there have only been a handful of small studies that have looked at the impact of medical scribes on the provider’s experience of providing care.

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Increase In Measles in Italy Linked to Austerity Measures

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Measles

Veronica Toffolutti PhD
Research Fellow in Health Economics
Bocconi University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Austerity has been linked to several health damaging effects such as suicides, increase in unmet needs, disease outbreaks that affect vulnerable peoples such as malaria in Greece, HIV in Greece and Romania during the current economic crises or in the earlier economic crisis cuts in public health expenditure have been linked with diphtheria and TB.

Europe is experiencing declining vaccination rates and resurgences in measles incidence rates. Italy appears to be particularly affected reporting the second largest number, second to Romania, of infection in Europe in 2017. Starting from the point that the primary reason for the outbreak in the decline in the measles vaccination we test the hypothesis that large budget reductions in public health spending were also a contributing factor.

Using data on 20 Italian regions for the period 2000-2014 we found that each 1% reduction in the real per capita public health expenditure was associated with a decrease of 0.5 percentage points (95% CI: 0.36-0.65 percentage points) in MMR coverage, after adjusting for time and regional-specific time-trends.  Continue reading

Medicare’s Bundled Payment Program–Does it Change Hospital Volume or Case Mix?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Amol Navathe, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Medicine Perelman School of Medicine Penn Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

Dr. Navathe

Amol Navathe, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine
Penn Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Medicare’s voluntary Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative for lower extremity joint replacement (LEJR) surgery has been associated with reduced episode spending and stable-to-improved quality. However, BPCI may create unintended effects by prompting participating hospitals to increase the overall volume of episodes covered by Medicare. This could potentially eliminate Medicare-related savings or prompt hospitals to shift case mix to lower-risk patients.

Among the Medicare beneficiaries who underwent LEJR, BPCI participation was not significantly associated with a change in market-level volume (difference-in-differences estimate . In non-BPCI markets, the mean quarterly market volume increased 3.8% from 3.8 episodes per 1000 beneficiaries before BPCI to 3.9 episodes per 1000 beneficiaries after BPCI was launched. In BPCI markets, the mean quarterly market volume increased 4.4% from 3.6 episodes per 1000 beneficiaries before BPCI to 3.8 episodes per 1000 beneficiaries after BPCI was launched.

The adjusted difference-in-differences estimate between the market types was 0.32%. Among 20 demographic, socioeconomic, clinical, and utilization factors, BPCI participation was associated with changes in hospital-level case mix for only one factor, prior skilled nursing facility use in BPCI vs. non-BPCI markets.  Continue reading

What Happens When Pay for Performance Incentives Are Withdrawn?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof-Bruce Guthrie Head of Population Health Sciences Division Professor of Primary Care Medicine and Honorary Consultant NHS Fife

Prof. Guthrie

Prof. Bruce Guthrie PhD
Head of Population Health Sciences Division
Professor of Primary Care Medicine and Honorary Consultant NHS Fife 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The UK Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF)) is a primary care pay for performance programme (P4P) implemented in 2004. QOF was and still is the largest healthcare P4P programme in the world, initially having ~150 indicators and accounting for ~20% of practice income. QOF has been reduced in scale and scope over time, with 40 indicators retired in 2014. It was abolished in Scotland in 2016 and is due to be further reformed in England. There is some evidence that P4P (and QOF itself) is associated with modest improvements in quality when introduced, but little evidence about what happens when financial incentives are withdrawn.

Our study examined what happened when incentives were withdrawn in 2014 for 12 indicators where there is good before and after data. There were immediate reductions in documented quality of care, which were similar in size to improvements observed when incentives were introduced. These reductions were small to modest (~10%) for indicators relating to care that is already systematically delivered (eg routine diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease) and large for indicators which has historically been less systematically delivered (eg lifestyle advice).

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Medicaid Expansion May Increase Access to Birth Control and Family Planning Services

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michelle H. Moniz, MD, MSc Assistant Professor Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2800

Dr. Moniz

Michelle H. Moniz, MD, MSc
Assistant Professor
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2800

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We wanted to examine whether Medicaid expansion in Michigan was associated with improved access to birth control/family planning services in our state.  We conducted a survey of enrollees in the Michigan Medicaid expansion program (called “Healthy Michigan Plan”).

We found that 1 in 3 women of reproductive age reported improved access to birth control/family planning services after joining HMP.  Women who were younger, who were uninsured prior to joining HMP, and those who had recently seen a primary care clinician were most likely to report improved access.  Continue reading

Robotic Surgery More Expensive But May Not Have Better Outcomes Than Traditional Surgery

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
A robotically assisted surgical system: WikipediaChris Childers, M.D.

Division of General Surgery
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
10833 Le Conte Ave., CHS 72-247
Los Angeles, CA 90095

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The robotic surgical approach has gained significant traction in the U.S. market despite mixed opinions regarding its clinical benefit. A few recent randomized trials have suggested there may be no clinical benefit of the robotic approach for some surgical procedures over the more traditional open or laparoscopic (“minimally-invasive”) approaches.

Previous studies have also suggested the robotic approach is very expensive, but until our study, there was no benchmark for the true costs (to the hospital) of using the robotic platform.

Our study analyzed financial statements from the main supplier of robotic technology. We found that the use of robotic surgery has increased exponentially over the past decade from approximately 136 thousand procedures in 2008 to 877 thousand procedures in 2017. The majority of these procedures were performed in the United States. While most people think of the robotic approach in urologic and perhaps gynecologic surgery, the fastest growing segment has been general surgery, for procedures such as colorectal resections, hernia repairs and gallbladder removals. In total, over 3 billion dollars was spent by hospitals to acquire and use robotic platforms in 2017 with 2.3 billion dollars in the United States. This equates to nearly $3,600 per procedure performed.

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Oncologist-Authors Often Do Not Fully Disclose Financial Relationships with Pharmaceutical Companies

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Cole Wayant Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences ‐ Analytical and Institutional Research Tulsa, OK MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: New FDA-approved oncology drugs are essential to oncology practice. These drugs may immediately change clinical care by offering better treatments for common, lethal forms of cancer. But, new FDA-approved oncology drugs are expensive and have been shown to have variable efficacy. Given the importance of new FDA-approved oncology drugs to patients and physicians, the trials that underpin the FDA-approval of these drugs must be free from bias and transparent. Therefore, we investigated the financial relationships between oncologist-authors of clinical trials that underpin FDA-approvals. MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report? Response: The key takeaway from our study is that oncologist-authors often do not fully disclose their financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies. Financial disclosures are important for the reasons of transparency and trust between physicians and other stakeholders, such as patients. Disclosing conflicts of interest helps readers interpret the findings of a research study, especially given the fact that drug companies finance their own drug trials. MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? Response: In the future, beyond recommending that authors fully disclose all financial relationships with the sponsor of the trial, I recommend that journals use the Open Payments Database to verify the accuracy and completeness of author disclosure statements. Doing so is a small first step toward mitigating the potential for financial bias in the oncology literature.” Disclosures: I do not have anything else to add. None of the authors have conflicts of interest - financial or otherwise. Citation: Financial Conflicts of Interest Among Oncologist Authors of Reports of Clinical Drug Trials  <span class="last-modified-timestamp">Aug 30, 2018 @ 5:06 pm</span> The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

Cole Wayant

Cole Wayant BS
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences ‐ Analytical and Institutional Research
Tulsa, OK

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: New FDA-approved oncology drugs are essential to oncology practice. These drugs may immediately change clinical care by offering better treatments for common, lethal forms of cancer.

But, new FDA-approved oncology drugs are expensive and have been shown to have variable efficacy. Given the importance of new FDA-approved oncology drugs to patients and physicians, the trials that underpin the FDA-approval of these drugs must be free from bias and transparent. Therefore, we investigated the financial relationships between oncologist-authors of clinical trials that underpin FDA-approvals. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The key takeaway from our study is that oncologist-authors often do not fully disclose their financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies. Financial disclosures are important for the reasons of transparency and trust between physicians and other stakeholders, such as patients. Disclosing conflicts of interest helps readers interpret the findings of a research study, especially given the fact that drug companies finance their own drug trials.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: In the future, beyond recommending that authors fully disclose all financial relationships with the sponsor of the trial, I recommend that journals use the Open Payments Database to verify the accuracy and completeness of author disclosure statements. Doing so is a small first step toward mitigating the potential for financial bias in the oncology literature.” 

Disclosures: I do not have anything else to add. None of the authors have conflicts of interest – financial or otherwise.

Citation:

Wayant C, Turner E, Meyer C, Sinnett P, Vassar M. Financial Conflicts of Interest Among Oncologist Authors of Reports of Clinical Drug Trials. JAMA Oncol. Published online August 30, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.3738

Aug 30, 2018 @ 5:06 pm

The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

 

Combination Brand Name Drugs Cost Medicare Millions More Than Separate Generic Pills

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Chana A. Sacks, MD, MPH Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL) Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dr. Sacks

Chana A. Sacks, MD, MPH
Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL)
Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Combination pills combine multiple medications into a single dosage form. There have been case reports in recent years of high prices for certain brand-name combination drugs – even those that are made up of generic medications.

Our study looks at this phenomenon in a systematic way using recently released Medicare spending data. We evaluated 29 combination drugs and found that approximately $925 million dollars could potentially have been saved in 2016 alone had generic constituents been prescribed as individual pills instead of using the combination products.

For example, Medicare reported spending more than $20 per dose of the combination pill Duexis, more than 70 times the price of its two over-the-counter constituent medications, famotidine and ibuprofen.

The findings in this study held true even for brand-name combination products that have generic versions of the combination pill. For example, Medicare reported spending more than $14 for each dose of brand-name Percocet for more than 4,000 patients, despite the existence of a generic combination oxycodone/acetaminophen product. Continue reading

Low Risk Prostate Cancer Imaging More Common Outside of VA Hospitals

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Danil V. Makarov, MD, MHS Department of Urology and Department of Population Health New York University Langone School of Medicine VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service Cancer Institute, New York University School of Medicine, New York

Dr. Makarov

Danil V. Makarov, MD, MHS
Department of Urology and
Department of Population Health
New York University Langone School of Medicine
VA New York Harbor Healthcare System,
Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
Cancer Institute, New York University School of Medicine, New York

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Reducing prostate cancer staging imaging for men with low-risk disease is an important national priority to improve widespread guideline-concordant practice, as determined by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines. It appears that prostate cancer imaging rates vary by several factors, including health care setting. Within Veterans Health Administration (VHA), physicians receive no financial incentive to provide more services. Outside VHA, the fee-for-service model used in Medicare may encourage provision of more healthcare services due to direct physician reimbursement.

In our study, we compared these health systems by investigating the association between prostate cancer imaging rates and a VA vs fee-for-service health care setting. We used novel methods to directly compare Veterans, Medicare Recipients, and Veterans that chose to receive care from both the VA at private facilities using Medicare insurance through the Choice Act with regard to rates of guideline-discordant imaging for prostate cancer.

We found that Medicare beneficiaries were significantly more likely to receive guideline-discordant prostate cancer imaging than men treated only in VA.

Moreover, we found that men with low-risk prostate cancer patients in the VA-only group had the lowest likelihood of guideline-discordant imaging, those in the VA and Medicare group had the next highest likelihood of guideline-discordant imaging (in the middle), and those in the Medicare-only group had the highest likelihood of guideline-discordant imaging.  Continue reading

Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Medicare Annual Wellness Visit Utilization

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kim Lind, PhD, MPH Research Fellow Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research Australian Institute of Health Innovation Macquarie University, NSW 

Dr. Lind

Kim Lind, PhD, MPH
Research Fellow
Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research
Australian Institute of Health Innovation
Macquarie University, NSW

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Medicare Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) is a preventive care visit that was introduced in 2011 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Prior to this, the only preventive care exam covered by Medicare was the Welcome to Medicare Visit, which is only available for people in their first year of Medicare enrolment. The AWV is available each year to beneficiaries without co-payment to people who are past their first year of Medicare enrolment. The AWV focuses on prevention and early detection of disease.

Racial disparities in healthcare utilization and health outcomes have been well documented in the US. Prior expansions of Medicare coverage have had varied effects on reducing disparities. For example, in 2001 Medicare began to cover colorectal cancer screening which reduced racial disparities for some minority groups with respect to screening rates and improved early detection.

Expanding coverage of preventive care for people on Medicare may help reduce disparities in health outcomes, but we first needed to know if people were using the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit. Our goal was to assess AWV utilization rates and determine if utilization differed by race or ethnicity. We analyzed a nationally representative database of Medicare beneficiaries (the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey) that included self-reported race, ethnicity, income and education, linked to Medicare claims.

We found that Medicare Annual Wellness Visit use was low but increased from 2011 to 2013. We also found that people on Medicare who self-identified as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority group had lower AWV utilization rates than non-Hispanic white people. People with lower income or education, and people living in rural areas had lower Medicare Annual Wellness Visit utilization.  Continue reading

Decreased Cost-Sharing Increased Patient Adherence

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

A. Mark Fendrick, M.D. Professor, Division of General Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Health Management and Policy Director, University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2800

Dr. Fendrick

A. Mark Fendrick, M.D.
Professor, Division of General Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Health Management and Policy
Director, University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-2800

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: As Americans are being asked to pay more for the medical care, in terms of copayments and deductibles, one in four Americans reports having difficulty paying for their prescription drugs. One potential solution is “value-based insurance design,” or V-BID. V-BID, is built on the principle of lowering or removing financial barriers to essential, high-value clinical services. V-BID plans align patients’ out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments and deductibles, with the value of services to the patient. They are designed with the tenet of “clinical nuance” in mind— in that the clinical benefit derived from a specific service depends on the consumer using it, as well as when, where, and by whom the service is provided.

According to a literature review published in the July 2018 issue of Health Affairs,  The researchers found that value-based insurance design programs which reduced consumer cost-sharing for clinically indicated medications resulted in increased adherence at no change in total spending. In other words, decreasing consumer cost-sharing meant better medication adherence for the same total cost to the insurer. Continue reading

Single-Payer Option Feasible For New York – With $139 Billion in New Taxes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jodi L. Liu, PhD Associate policy researcher RAND Corporation

Dr. Liu

Jodi L. Liu, PhD
Associate policy researcher
RAND Corporation

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The New York Health Act (NYHA) would create a state-based single-payer plan called New York Health.

The NYHA has been proposed in the New York State Assembly for many years. New York Health would provide all residents with comprehensive health benefits with no cost sharing and create new taxes to help fund the program.

In this study, we used microsimulation modeling to analyze the impact of the NYHA on outcomes such as health care utilization and costs. We estimate that total health care spending could be similar or slightly lower if administrative costs and provider payment rates are reduced. The program would require substantial new taxes and would shift the types of payments people make for health care.

After the presumed redirection of federal and state health care outlays to New York Health, we estimate that the new taxes revenue needed to finance the program in 2022 would be $139 billion.

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Transitional Care Services from Hospital to Home Underutilized, Can Save Money and Readmissions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Andrew B. Bindman, MD Professor of Medicine PRL- Institute for Health Policy Studies University of California San Francisco

Dr. Bindman


Andrew B. Bindman, MD

Professor of Medicine
PRL- Institute for Health Policy Studies
University of California San Francisco

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  


Response:
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use and impact of a payment code for transitional care management services which was implemented by Medicare in.

The transition of patients from hospitals or skilled nursing facilities back to the community often involves a change in a patient’s health care provider and introduces risks in communication which can contribute to lapses in health care quality and safety. Transitional care management services include contacting the patient within 2 business days after discharge and seeing the patient in the office within 7-14 days. Medicare implemented payment for transitional care management services with the hope that this would increase the delivery of these services believing that they could reduce readmissions, reduce costs and improve health outcomes.

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Effects of Breast Density Notification Laws Vary By State

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michal Horný PhD Assistant Professor Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences Emory University Rollins School of Public Health Department of Health Policy and Management Atlanta, GA 30322

Dr. Horný

Michal Horný PhD
Assistant Professor
Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences
Emory University Rollins School of Public Health
Department of Health Policy and Management
Atlanta, GA 30322

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Increased breast tissue density is a common finding at screening mammography. Approximately 30-50% of women have so-called “dense breasts” but many of them are not aware of it. The problem is that the increased tissue density can potentially mask early cancers. In other words, if there is cancer hiding in dense breast tissue, it could be difficult to spot it.

To improve the awareness of breast tissue density, a patient group called Are You Dense Advocacy, Inc., started lobbying state and federal policymakers to pass laws mandating health care providers to notify women about their breast density assessments. As a result, 31 states have already enacted some form of legislation regarding dense breast tissue.

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Lay Health Workers Reduce Costs and Improve Cancer Patients’ Satisfaction

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Manali Patel MD MPH Assistant Professor of Medicine, Oncology Stanford Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System 

Dr. Patel

Manali Patel MD MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Oncology
Stanford
Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: In prior work, many patients with advanced stages of cancer report a lack of understanding of their prognosis and receipt of care that differs from their preferences.

These gaps in care delivery along with the unsustainable rise in healthcare spending at the end-of-life and professional healthcare provider shortages led our team to consider new ways to deliver cancer care for patients.  Based on input from focus groups with patients, caregivers, oncology care providers and healthcare payers, we designed a novel model of cancer care to address these gaps in care delivery.  The intervention consisted of a well-trained lay health worker to assist patients with understanding and communicating their goals of care with their oncology providers and caregivers.

We found that patients who received the six-month intervention reported greater satisfaction with the care they received and their decision-making, had higher rates of hospice use, lower acute care use, and 95% lower total healthcare expenditures in the last month of life.  The intervention resulted in nearly $3 million dollars in healthcare savings.

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Defensive Medicine is Real and Raises Health Care Costs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jonathan Gruber PhD
Department of Economics, E52-434
MIT
Cambridge, MA 02139

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: There is a large literature trying to estimate the extent of ‘defensive  medicine’ by looking at what happens when it gets harder to sue and/or  you can win less money. But there have been no studies of what happens if you just get rid of the right to sue.  That’s what we have with active duty patients treated on a military base.

The main finding is that when patients can’t sue they are treated about  5% less intensively.  Much of the effect appears to arise from fewer diagnostic tests.

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Both State and Federal Marketplaces Expanded Medicaid/Chip Coverage to Eligible Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Julie L. Hudson, PhD Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Rockville, Maryland

Dr. Hudson

Julie L. Hudson, PhD
Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Rockville, Maryland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Since 2013, public coverage has increased not only among low-income adults newly eligible for Medicaid but also among children and adults who were previously eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Recent research has shown that growth in public coverage varied by state-level policy choices.

In this paper we study the growth in public coverage (Medicaid/CHIP) for three population samples living in Medicaid Expansion states between 2013 and 2015: previously eligible children, previously eligible parents, and newly eligible parents by state-level marketplace policies (Note: eligibility refers to eligible for Medicaid/CHIP, eligibility for marketplace subsidized coverage). All marketplaces are required to assess each applicants’ eligibility for both the marketplace and for Medicaid/CHIP. States running state-based marketplaces are required to enroll Medicaid-/CHIP-eligible applicants directly into public coverage (Medicaid or CHIP), but states using federally-facilitated marketplaces can opt to require their marketplace to forward these cases to state Medicaid/CHIP authorities for final eligibility determination and enrollment. We study the impact of marketplace policies on public coverage by observing changes in the probability Medicaid-/CHIP-eligible children and parents are enrolled in public coverage across three marketplace structures: state-based marketplaces that are required to enroll Medicaid-/CHIP-eligible applicants directly into public coverage, federally-facilitated marketplaces in states that enroll Medicaid-/CHIP-eligible applicants directly into public coverage, and federally-facilitated marketplaces with no authority to enroll Medicaid-/CHIP-eligible applicants into public coverage.

Supporting the existing literature, we find that public coverage grew between 2013-2015 for all three of our samples of Medicaid-/CHIP-eligible children and parents living in Medicaid expansion states. However, we show that growth in public coverage was smallest in expansion states that adopted a federally-facilitated marketplace and gave no authority to the marketplace to enroll Medicaid-/CHIP-eligible applicants directly into public coverage. Additionally, once we account for enrollment authority, we found no differences in growth of public coverage for eligible children and parents living in expansion states that adopted a state-based marketplace versus those in states that adopted a federally-facilitated marketplaces with the authority to directly enroll Medicaid-/CHIP-eligible applicants Continue reading

With Aging Comes Increasing Cost of Life-Extending Medications

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jonathan H. Watanabe, PharmD, PhD, BCGP Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy National Academy of Medicine Anniversary Fellow in Pharmacy Division of Clinical Pharmacy | Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences | University of California San Diego La Jolla, CA 

Jonathan H. Watanabe, PharmD, PhD, BCGP
Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy
National Academy of Medicine Anniversary Fellow in Pharmacy
Division of Clinical Pharmacy | Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences | University of California San Diego
La Jolla, CA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: As a clinician in older adult care and as a health economist, I’ve been following the news and research studies on older patients unable to pay for their medications and consequently not getting the treatment they require. Our goal was to measure how spending on the medications Part D spends the most on, has been increasing over time and to figure out what prices patients are facing out-of-pocket to get these medications.

In 2015 US dollars, Medicare Part D spent on the ten highest spend medications increased from $21.5 billion in 2011 to $28.4 billion in 2015.  The number of patients that received one of the ten highest spend medications dropped from 12,913,003 in 2011 to 8,818,471— a 32% drop in that period.

A trend of spending more tax dollars on fewer patients already presents societal challenges, but more troubling is that older adults are spending much more of their own money out-of-pocket on these medications.  For patients without a federal low income subsidy, the average out-of-pocket cost share for one of the ten highest spend medications increased from $375 in 2011 to $1,366 in 2015.  This represented a 264% increase and an average 66% increase per year.  For patients receiving the low income subsidy, the average out-of-pocket cost share grew from $29 in 2011 to $44 in 2015 an increase of 51% and an average increase of 12.7% per year.  This may not sound like much, but for those living close to the federal poverty level this can be the difference between foregoing necessities to afford your medications or choosing not to take your medications.   Continue reading

Targeting Breast Cancer Screening To Higher Risk Patients Reduces Overdiagnosis, Costs and Side Effects

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Nora Pashayan PhD Clinical Reader in Applied Health Research University College London Dept of Applied Health Research London 

Dr. Pashayan

Dr Nora Pashayan PhD

Clinical Reader in Applied Health Research

University College London

Dept of Applied Health Research

London 

MedicalResearch.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: Not all women have the same risk of developing breast cancer and not all women have the same potential to benefit from screening.

 

If the screening programme takes into account the individual variation in risk, then evidence from different studies indicate that this could improve the efficiency of the screening programme. However, questions remain on what is the best risk-stratified screening strategy, does risk-stratified screening add value for money, and what are benefit and harm trade-offs.

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