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Concept: Insurance

175

BACKGROUND: Since the late 1980s, genetic discrimination has remained one of the major concerns associated with genetic research and clinical genetics. Europe has adopted a plethora of laws and policies, both at the regional and national levels, to prevent insurers from having access to genetic information for underwriting. Legislators from the United States and the United Kingdom have also felt compelled to adopt protective measures specifically addressing genetics and insurance. But does the available evidence really confirm the popular apprehension about genetic discrimination and the subsequent genetic exceptionalism? METHODS: This paper presents the results of a systematic, critical review of over 20 years of genetic discrimination studies in the context of life insurance. RESULTS: The available data clearly document the existence of individual cases of genetic discrimination. The significance of this initial finding is, however, greatly diminished by four observations. First, the methodology used in most of the studies is not sufficiently robust to clearly establish either the prevalence or the impact of discriminatory practices. Second, the current body of evidence was mostly developed around a small number of ‘classic’ genetic conditions. Third, the heterogeneity and small scope of most of the studies prevents formal statistical analysis of the aggregate results. Fourth, the small number of reported genetic discrimination cases in some studies could indicate that these incidents took place due to occasional errors, rather than the voluntary or planned choice, of the insurers. CONCLUSION: Important methodological limitations and inconsistencies among the studies considered make it extremely difficult, at the moment, to justify policy action taken on the basis of evidence alone. Nonetheless, other empirical and theoretical factors have emerged (for example, the prevalence and impact of the fear of genetic discrimination among patients and research participants, the importance of genetic information for the commercial viability of the private life insurance industry, and the need to develop more equitable schemes of access to life insurance) that should be considered along with the available evidence of genetic discrimination for a more holistic view of the debate.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, United Kingdom, Discrimination, Insurance, Redlining, Underwriting

171

Income disparities in mortality are profound in the United States, but reasons for this remain largely unexplained. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of health behaviors, and other mediating pathways, separately and simultaneously, including health insurance, health status, and inflammation, in the association between income and mortality.

Concepts: United States, Actuarial science, United Kingdom, Poverty in the United States, U.S. state, Insurance, At-large, Economic inequality

169

The dramatic rise in chronically ill patients on permanent disability benefits threatens the sustainability of social security in high-income countries. Social insurance organizations have started to invest in promising, but costly return to work (RTW) coordination programmes. The benefit, however, remains uncertain. We conducted a systematic review to determine the long-term effectiveness of RTW coordination compared to usual practice in patients at risk for long-term disability.

Concepts: Medicine, Risk, Randomized controlled trial, Investment, Insurance, Finance, Social security, Social insurance

121

In the United States, health insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorder treatments has been historically limited. In response, as of 2015, 40 states and Washington, DC, have passed state autism insurance mandates requiring many health plans in the private insurance market to cover autism diagnostic and treatment services. This study examined five states' experiences implementing autism insurance mandates. Semi-structured, key-informant interviews were conducted with 17 participants representing consumer advocacy organizations, provider organizations, and health insurance companies. Overall, participants thought that the mandates substantially affected the delivery of autism services. While access to autism treatment services has increased as a result of implementation of state mandates, states have struggled to keep up with the demand for services. Participants provided specific information about barriers and facilitators to meeting this demand. Understanding of key informants' perceptions about states' experiences implementing autism insurance mandates is useful for other states considering adopting or expanding mandates or other policies to expand access to autism treatment services.

Concepts: United States, U.S. state, Autism, Pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum, Insurance, United States Marshals Service

93

The Massachusetts 2006 health care reform has been called a model for the Affordable Care Act. The law attained near-universal insurance coverage and increased access to care. Its effect on population health is less clear.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Public health, Health insurance, Health, Demography, Insurance, Massachusetts health care reform

54

About 28 million Americans are currently uninsured, and millions more could lose coverage under policy reforms proposed in Congress. At the same time, a growing number of policy leaders have called for going beyond the Affordable Care Act to a single-payer national health insurance system that would cover every American. These policy debates lend particular salience to studies evaluating the health effects of insurance coverage. In 2002, an Institute of Medicine review concluded that lack of insurance increases mortality, but several relevant studies have appeared since that time. This article summarizes current evidence concerning the relationship of insurance and mortality. The evidence strengthens confidence in the Institute of Medicine’s conclusion that health insurance saves lives: The odds of dying among the insured relative to the uninsured is 0.71 to 0.97.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Healthcare reform, Universal health care, Actuarial science, Investment, Insurance, Single-payer health care

36

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

35

Honesty is a fundamental pillar for cooperation in human societies and thus for their economic welfare. However, humans do not always act in an honest way. Here, we examine how insurance coverage affects the degree of honesty in credence goods markets. Such markets are plagued by strong incentives for fraudulent behavior of sellers, resulting in estimated annual costs of billions of dollars to customers and the society as a whole. Prime examples of credence goods are all kinds of repair services, the provision of medical treatments, the sale of software programs, and the provision of taxi rides in unfamiliar cities. We examine in a natural field experiment how computer repair shops take advantage of customers' insurance for repair costs. In a control treatment, the average repair price is about EUR 70, whereas the repair bill increases by more than 80% when the service provider is informed that an insurance would reimburse the bill. Our design allows decomposing the sources of this economically impressive difference, showing that it is mainly due to the overprovision of parts and overcharging of working time. A survey among repair shops shows that the higher bills are mainly ascribed to insured customers being less likely to be concerned about minimizing costs because a third party (the insurer) pays the bill. Overall, our results strongly suggest that insurance coverage greatly increases the extent of dishonesty in important sectors of the economy with potentially huge costs to customers and whole economies.

Concepts: Economics, Experiment, Sales, Insurance, Society, Service, Economy, Goods

34

On October 1, the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will open for business. Administrators must complete myriad tasks if they are to serve the millions of individuals - many of whom will be eligible for subsidies - and employees of small businesses who are ready to buy insurance. Initial glitches are likely. Some may be serious. But with good will and persistence, they can be corrected, as Massachusetts' experience with a law similar to the ACA has shown. That is not the end of the story, however. After the exchanges are up and running, they . . .

Concepts: Health care, Health insurance, Economics, Insurance, Small business, Debut albums, Business, The End

29

We describe the patterns of coverage gains associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expansions and use these patterns to assess the potential impact of alternative repeal or repeal and replace strategies because Congress and the president are weighing options to repeal or replace the ACA. We find that specific provisions of the ACA, including the Medicaid expansion and the structure of premium subsidies, have been associated with large and robust gains in insurance coverage. We evaluate the impact of retaining dependent coverage and high-risk pool provisions and show, on the basis of the ACA experience, that these provisions would have little effect on coverage. We find that many replacement proposal components, including flat tax credits and maintaining cost savings provisions, could jeopardize the ability of many of the ACA’s primary beneficiaries, as well as other Americans, to access coverage and care. By leading to a deterioration of the safety net, these strategies could also imperil population health activities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print February 16, 2017: e1-e3. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2017.303665).

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Public health, Health, President of the United States, Population health, Insurance, Taxation in the United States