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Concept: Health care in the United States


Last December, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin ended a 4-year initiative to create a single-payer health care system. The plan was abandoned because of legitimate political considerations, and any other state considering single payer will face similar obstacles.

Concepts: Health economics, Healthcare reform, Universal health care, Health care in the United States, Single-payer health care


In 2013 US health care spending increased 3.6 percent to $2.9 trillion, or $9,255 per person. The share of gross domestic product devoted to health care spending has remained at 17.4 percent since 2009. Health care spending decelerated 0.5 percentage point in 2013, compared to 2012, as a result of slower growth in private health insurance and Medicare spending. Slower growth in spending for hospital care, investments in medical structures and equipment, and spending for physician and clinical care also contributed to the low overall increase.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Medicine, Health insurance, Hospital, Investment, Health care in the United States, Canada Health Act


In 2011 US health care spending grew 3.9 percent to reach $2.7 trillion, marking the third consecutive year of relatively slow growth. Growth in national health spending closely tracked growth in nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010 and 2011, and health spending as a share of GDP remained stable from 2009 through 2011, at 17.9 percent. Even as growth in spending at the national level has remained stable, personal health care spending growth accelerated in 2011 (from 3.7 percent to 4.1 percent), in part because of faster growth in spending for prescription drugs and physician and clinical services. There were also divergent trends in spending growth in 2011 depending on the payment source: Medicaid spending growth slowed, while growth in Medicare, private health insurance, and out-of-pocket spending accelerated. Overall, there was relatively slow growth in incomes, jobs, and GDP in 2011, which raises questions about whether US health care spending will rebound over the next few years as it typically has after past economic downturns.

Concepts: Health care, Medicare, Health economics, Medicine, Health insurance, Gross domestic product, Health care in the United States, Government spending


BACKGROUND: Previous research has shown that tobacco control funding in California has reduced per capita cigarette consumption and per capita healthcare expenditures. This paper refines our earlier model by estimating the effect of California tobacco control funding on current smoking prevalence and cigarette consumption per smoker and the effect of prevalence and consumption on per capita healthcare expenditures. The results are used to calculate new estimates of the effect of the California Tobacco Program. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Using state-specific aggregate data, current smoking prevalence and cigarette consumption per smoker are modeled as functions of cumulative California and control states' per capita tobacco control funding, cigarette price, and per capita income. Per capita healthcare expenditures are modeled as a function of prevalence of current smoking, cigarette consumption per smoker, and per capita income. One additional dollar of cumulative per capita tobacco control funding is associated with reduction in current smoking prevalence of 0.0497 (SE.00347) percentage points and current smoker cigarette consumption of 1.39 (SE.132) packs per smoker per year. Reductions of one percentage point in current smoking prevalence and one pack smoked per smoker are associated with $35.4 (SE $9.85) and $3.14 (SE.786) reductions in per capita healthcare expenditure, respectively (2010 dollars), using the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) measure of healthcare spending. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Between FY 1989 and 2008 the California Tobacco Program cost $2.4 billion and led to cumulative NIPA healthcare expenditure savings of $134 (SE $30.5) billion.

Concepts: Costs, Cigarette, Economics, Cost, Statistical terminology, Percentage point, Health care in the United States, Per capita income


Accurately documenting the current and future costs of hypertension is required to fully understand the potential economic impact of currently available and future interventions to prevent and treat hypertension. The objective of this work was to calculate the healthcare costs attributable to hypertension in Canada and to project these costs to 2020. Using population-based administrative data for the province of Alberta, Canada (>3 million residents) from 2002 to 2010, we identified individuals with and without diagnosed hypertension. We calculated their total healthcare costs and estimated costs attributable to hypertension using a regression model adjusting for comorbidities and sociodemographic factors. We then extrapolated hypertension-attributable costs to the rest of Canada and projected costs to the year 2020. Twenty-one percent of adults in Alberta had diagnosed hypertension in 2010, with a projected increase to 27% by 2020. The average individual with hypertension had annual healthcare costs of $5768, of which $2341 (41%) were attributed to hypertension. In Alberta, the healthcare costs attributable to hypertension were $1.4 billion in 2010. In Canada, the hypertension-attributable costs were estimated to be $13.9 billion in 2010, rising to $20.5 billion by 2020. The increase was ascribed to demographic changes (52%), increasing prevalence (16%), and increasing per-patient costs (32%). Hypertension accounts for a significant proportion of healthcare spending (10.2% of the Canadian healthcare budget) and is projected to rise even further. Interventions to prevent and treat hypertension may play a role in limiting this cost growth.

Concepts: Cohort study, Medicare, Alberta, Provinces and territories of Canada, Canada, Health care in the United States, British Columbia, History of Canada


The purpose of this lecture is to challenge librarians in clinical settings to leverage the opportunities presented by the current health care environment and to develop collaborative relationships with health care practitioners to provide relevant services.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Public health, Health, Clinical trial, Medical ethics, The Current, Health care in the United States


Background Spending and quality under global budgets remain unknown beyond 2 years. We evaluated spending and quality measures during the first 4 years of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Alternative Quality Contract (AQC). Methods We compared spending and quality among enrollees whose physician organizations entered the AQC from 2009 through 2012 with those among persons in control states. We studied spending changes according to year, category of service, site of care, experience managing risk contracts, and price versus utilization. We evaluated process and outcome quality. Results In the 2009 AQC cohort, medical spending on claims grew an average of $62.21 per enrollee per quarter less than it did in the control cohort over the 4-year period (P<0.001). This amount is equivalent to a 6.8% savings when calculated as a proportion of the average post-AQC spending level in the 2009 AQC cohort. Analogously, the 2010, 2011, and 2012 cohorts had average savings of 8.8% (P<0.001), 9.1% (P<0.001), and 5.8% (P=0.04), respectively, by the end of 2012. Claims savings were concentrated in the outpatient-facility setting and in procedures, imaging, and tests, explained by both reduced prices and reduced utilization. Claims savings were exceeded by incentive payments to providers during the period from 2009 through 2011 but exceeded incentive payments in 2012, generating net savings. Improvements in quality among AQC cohorts generally exceeded those seen elsewhere in New England and nationally. Conclusions As compared with similar populations in other states, Massachusetts AQC enrollees had lower spending growth and generally greater quality improvements after 4 years. Although other factors in Massachusetts may have contributed, particularly in the later part of the study period, global budget contracts with quality incentives may encourage changes in practice patterns that help reduce spending and improve quality. (Funded by the Commonwealth Fund and others.).

Concepts: Health care, Massachusetts, Health care in the United States, Incentive, Budget, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Edward Harkness, Commonwealth Fund


For the fourth consecutive year, growth in health care spending remained low, increasing by 3.7 percent in 2012 to $2.8 trillion. At the same time, the share of the economy devoted to health fell slightly (from 17.3 percent to 17.2 percent) as the nominal gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 4.6 percent. Faster growth in hospital services and in physician and clinical services was mitigated by slower growth in prices for prescription drugs and nursing home services. Despite an uptick in enrollment growth, Medicare spending growth slowed slightly in 2012, mainly due to lower payment updates. For Medicaid, slowing enrollment growth kept spending growth near historic lows. Growth in private health insurance spending also remained near historically low rates in 2012, largely influenced by the nation’s modest economic recovery and its impact on enrollment.

Concepts: Health care, Medicare, Health economics, Medicine, Health insurance, Hospital, Gross domestic product, Health care in the United States


Drug manufacturers have developed “evergreening” strategies to compete with generic medication after patent termination. These include marketing of slightly modified follow-on drugs. We aimed to estimate the financial impact of these drugs on overall healthcare costs and also to examine the impact of listing these drugs in hospital restrictive drug formularies (RDFs) on the healthcare system as a whole (“spillover effect”).

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Drug, Pharmaceutical drug, Generic drug, Patent law, Health care in the United States, Public domain


Background:Despite evidence that improved outcomes are associated with more distal lower extremity amputations (LEA), the impact of recent advances in the orthopedic approach to diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) on the use and anatomic level of LEAs is unknown.Methods:We queried the complete Medicare Part B claims database (2000-2010) for volume and reimbursement of all codes designating LEAs (hip and below) as well as a selection representing orthopedic treatments for DFU. Procedures were grouped for analysis; utilization rates per 100,000 Medicare enrollees and compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of payments were calculated. Data are presented in the context of national health care spending trends.Results:LEA utilization rates declined from 282.5 to 201.0 per 10(5) enrollees (-28.8%) over the decade. In general, declines were greatest for the most proximal levels and smallest for the most distal sites. Use of orthopedic treatments for DFUs, including Achilles tendon release and total contact casting, rose from 26.0 to 63.3 per 10(5) enrollees (+143.3%). Payment trends mirrored utilization data. During this period, total health care spending in the United States increased at a CAGR of 6.5%, whereas total Medicare payments rose at a CAGR of 8.9%.Conclusion:The last decade saw a marked decline in the use of LEA in the Medicare population, despite unfavorable demographic changes. Furthermore, it became more likely for LEAs to occur at distal, limb-conserving locations. Over the same period, use of orthopedic treatments for DFU increased sharply.

Concepts: Medicare, Health insurance, Tendon, Health care in the United States, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, Money, Compound annual growth rate, Single-payer health care