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Concept: Health insurance in the United States

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Opioid-related mortality increased by 15.6% from 2014 to 2015 and increased almost 320% between 2000 and 2015. Recent research finds that the use of all pain medications (opioid and nonopioid collectively) decreases in Medicare Part D and Medicaid populations when states approve medical cannabis laws (MCLs). The association between MCLs and opioid prescriptions is not well understood.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicare, U.S. state, Cannabis, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare Part D

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Decisions by states about whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have implications for hospitals' financial health. We hypothesized that Medicaid expansion of eligibility for childless adults prevents hospital closures because increased Medicaid coverage for previously uninsured people reduces uncompensated care expenditures and strengthens hospitals' financial position. We tested this hypothesis using data for the period 2008-16 on hospital closures and financial performance. We found that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion was associated with improved hospital financial performance and substantially lower likelihoods of closure, especially in rural markets and counties with large numbers of uninsured adults before Medicaid expansion. Future congressional efforts to reform Medicaid policy should consider the strong relationship between Medicaid coverage levels and the financial viability of hospitals. Our results imply that reverting to pre-ACA eligibility levels would lead to particularly large increases in rural hospital closures. Such closures could lead to reduced access to care and a loss of highly skilled jobs, which could have detrimental impacts on local economies.

Concepts: Health insurance, Hospital, Economics, Hypothesis, Medicaid, Health insurance in the United States, Closure, Expansion team

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Nonadherence to taking prescribed antihypertensive medication (antihypertensive) regimens has been identified as a leading cause of poor blood pressure control among persons with hypertension and an important risk factor for adverse cardiovascular disease outcomes. CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services analyzed geographic, racial-ethnic, and other disparities in nonadherence to antihypertensives among Medicare Part D beneficiaries in 2014.

Concepts: Medicare, Blood pressure, Vital signs, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act

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Background From 2011 through 2014, the Federally Qualified Health Center Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration provided care management fees and technical assistance to a nationwide sample of 503 federally qualified health centers to help them achieve the highest (level 3) medical-home recognition by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a designation that requires the implementation of processes to improve access, continuity, and coordination. Methods We examined the achievement of medical-home recognition and used Medicare claims and beneficiary surveys to measure utilization of services, quality of care, patients' experiences, and Medicare expenditures in demonstration sites versus comparison sites. Using difference-in-differences analyses, we compared changes in outcomes in the two groups of sites during a 3-year period. Results Level 3 medical-home recognition was awarded to 70% of demonstration sites and to 11% of comparison sites. Although the number of visits to federally qualified health centers decreased in the two groups, smaller reductions among demonstration sites than among comparison sites led to a relative increase of 83 visits per 1000 beneficiaries per year at demonstration sites (P<0.001). Similar trends explained the higher performance of demonstration sites with respect to annual eye examinations and nephropathy tests (P<0.001 for both comparisons); there were no significant differences with respect to three other process measures. Demonstration sites had larger increases than comparison sites in emergency department visits (30.3 more per 1000 beneficiaries per year, P<0.001), inpatient admissions (5.7 more per 1000 beneficiaries per year, P=0.02), and Medicare Part B expenditures ($37 more per beneficiary per year, P=0.02). Demonstration-site participation was not associated with relative improvements in most measures of patients' experiences. Conclusions Demonstration sites had higher rates of medical-home recognition and smaller decreases in the number of patients' visits to federally qualified health centers than did comparison sites, findings that may reflect better access to primary care relative to comparison sites. Demonstration sites had larger increases in emergency department visits, inpatient admissions, and Medicare Part B expenditures. (Funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.).

Concepts: Better, Medicare, Health insurance, The Higher, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicaid, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare and Medicaid

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OBJECTIVE To compare health insurance coverage and type of coverage for adults with and without diabetes. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS The data used were from 2,704 adults who self-reported diabetes and 25,008 adults without reported diabetes in the 2009 National Health Interview Survey. Participants reported on their current type of health insurance coverage, demographic information, diabetes-related factors, and comorbidities. If uninsured, participants reported reasons for not having health insurance. RESULTS Among all adults with diabetes, 90% had some form of health insurance coverage, including 85% of people 18-64 years of age and ∼100% of people ≥65 years of age; 81% of people without diabetes had some type of coverage (vs. diabetes, P < 0.0001), including 78% of people 18-64 years of age and 99% of people ≥65 years of age. More adults 18-64 years of age with diabetes had Medicare coverage (14% vs. no diabetes, 3%; P < 0.0001); fewer people with diabetes had private insurance (58% vs. no diabetes, 66%; P < 0.0001). People 18-64 years of age with diabetes more often had two health insurance sources compared with people without diabetes (13 vs. 5%, P < 0.0001). The most common private plan was a preferred provider organization (PPO) followed by a health maintenance organization/independent practice organization (HMO/IPA) plan regardless of diabetes status. For participants 18-64 years of age, high health insurance cost was the most common reason for not having coverage. CONCLUSIONS Two million adults <65 years of age with diabetes had no health insurance coverage, which has considerable public health and economic impact. Health care reform should work toward ensuring that people with diabetes have coverage for routine care.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Healthcare reform, Health insurance, Health insurance in the United States, Preferred provider organization

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To identify the characteristics of the most profitable US hospitals, we examined the profitability of acute care hospitals in fiscal year 2013, measured as net income from patient care services per adjusted discharge. Based on Medicare Cost Reports and Final Rule Data, the median hospital lost $82 for each such discharge. Forty-five percent of hospitals were profitable, with 2.5 percent earning more than $2,475 per adjusted discharge. The ten most profitable hospitals, seven of which were nonprofit, each earned more than $163 million in total profits from patient care services. Hospitals with for-profit status, higher markups, system affiliation, or regional power, as well as those located in states with price regulation, tended to be more profitable than other hospitals. Hospitals that treated a higher proportion of Medicare patients, had higher expenditures per adjusted discharge, were located in counties with a high proportion of uninsured patients, or were located in states with a dominant insurer or greater health maintenance organization (HMO) penetration had lower profitability than hospitals that did not have these characteristics. These findings can inform policy reforms, while providing a baseline against which to measure the impact of any subsequent reforms.

Concepts: Health insurance, Patient, Hospital, Physician, Health maintenance organization, Health insurance in the United States, Profit

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A growing body of literature describes how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded health insurance coverage. What is less well known is how these coverage gains have affected populations that are at risk for high health spending. To investigate this issue, we used prescription transaction data for a panel of 6.7 million prescription drug users to compare changes in coverage, prescription fills, plan spending, and out-of-pocket spending before and after the implementation of the ACA’s coverage expansion. We found a 30 percent reduction in the proportion of this population that was uninsured in 2014 compared to 2013. Uninsured people who gained private coverage filled, on average, 28 percent more prescriptions and had 29 percent less out-of-pocket spending per prescription in 2014 compared to 2013. Those who gained Medicaid coverage had larger increases in fill rates (79 percent) and reductions in out-of-pocket spending per prescription (58 percent). People who gained coverage who had at least one of the chronic conditions detailed in our study saw larger decreases in out-of-pocket spending compared to those who did not have at least one condition. These results demonstrate that by reducing financial barriers to care, the ACA has increased treatment rates while reducing out-of-pocket spending, particularly for people with chronic conditions.

Concepts: Health care, Pharmacology, Health insurance, Gain, Medicaid, Medical prescription, Insurance, Health insurance in the United States

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Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than 30 states have expanded Medicaid, with some states choosing to expand private insurance instead (the “private option”). In addition, while coverage gains from the ACA’s Medicaid expansion are well documented, impacts on utilization and health are unclear.

Concepts: Health care, Economics, Health insurance in the United States, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

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The U.S. Physician Payments Sunshine Act mandates the reporting of payments or items of value received by physicians from drug, medical device, and biological agent manufacturers. The impact of these payments on physician prescribing has not been examined at large scale.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicare, Medicine, Physician, Anatomy, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act

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Over half of patients diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are 65 years or older. We examined patient characteristics, treatment patterns, and survival among elderly patients in routine clinical practice. We utilized a retrospective cohort analysis of first primary AML patients in the linked Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database. Patients were diagnosed between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2009, >66 years, and continuously enrolled in Medicare Part A and B in the year prior to diagnosis. Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox proportional hazards regression assessed overall survival by treatment. There were 3327 (40 %) patients who received chemotherapy within 3 months of diagnosis. Treated patients were more likely younger, male, and married, and less likely to have secondary AML and poor performance indicators and comorbidity score compared to untreated patients. In multivariate survival analysis, treated patients exhibited a significant 33 % lower risk of death compared to untreated patients. Significant survival benefits were noted with receipt of intensive and hypomethylating agent (HMA) therapies compared to no therapy. A survival benefit with allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation was seen in younger Medicare patients. This real-world study showed that about 60 % of elderly AML patients remain untreated following diagnosis. Use of anti-leukemic therapy was associated with a significant survival benefit in this elderly cohort.

Concepts: Cohort study, Clinical trial, Proportional hazards models, Bone marrow, Leukemia, Acute myeloid leukemia, Hematopoietic stem cell, Health insurance in the United States